How to Limit Internet Data and Bandwidth Usage on Windows

By | August 5, 2022

Limiting bandwidth on your computer will stop you from wasting data. It’s helpful to manage this setting if you have a certain data limit as it can stop you from overcharging.

We’ll show you how to control your bandwidth usage with the built-in Windows 10 features, then offer some additional third-party tools that offer even more features to help you limit your bandwidth.

How to Limit Data Usage in Windows 10

First, let’s take a look at how to control your network usage and enforce bandwidth limits using the tools included with Windows 10.

Enable Metered Connection in Windows 10

One way to limit bandwidth in Windows 10 is to enable Metered Connection.

Enabling this feature means that some updates for Windows will not install automatically (except critical updates) and some Microsoft Store apps may lose some functionality or not function properly. It will also disable peer-to-peer updates designed to help with Microsoft server loads.

To activate Metered Connection, press the button Windows + I to open Settings and click Network & Internet. choose Wi-Fi or Ethernet, depending on what method you use to connect to the internet.

If you select Wi-Fi, click Manage known networks, select your network from the list, click Properties, and slide Set as metered connection to On.

If you choose Ethernet, click your connection from the list and swipe Set as metered connection to On.

Set Data Usage Limits in Windows 10

Alternatively, you can set a custom data usage limit. This will automatically enable the Metered Connection feature. It will not disconnect your internet connection when you reach its limit, but you will receive a warning notification when you approach it.

To get started, press the button Windows + I to open Settings and go to Network & Internet > Data usage.

In the Overview, you will see your different internet connections and how much data each has used in the last 30 days. Click one if you want to see that grouping per application.

Select the connection you want to limit using the dropdown Show settings for. Once selected, click Set limit.

Here you can choose the time period for the data limit and what the MB or GB limit looks like. Click Save after it finishes.

You will now see a bar graph showing how much data has been used and how much is left. Click Edit limit to change settings or Remove limit to delete it.

Below is part Background data. Here you can limit what Store apps and Windows features can do in the background. It can be enabled at any time or when you are close to hitting your data limit (if you have one set).

How to Restrict Data Usage Using Third Party Tools

Windows 10 has some useful features to help you set bandwidth limits and use less data, but you may need something more advanced. If so, this third-party tool is a great option.

NetBalancer will show you a list of all active processes on your system and any associated network usage. Below is a live graph so you can see at a glance where the bandwidth spikes are. Hover your mouse over the graph and you’ll be able to see which process is sucking up your bandwidth at that moment.

To limit the bandwidth of the program, find it in the list and click on it twice. You can use the dropdown Download Priority and Upload Priority to customize its use based on predefined filters. This is useful if, for example, you still want an unrestricted program, but want other programs to use up the bandwidth first if they need it. Or, choose Custom from the dropdown to define your own limit.

You can also do the same thing back in the main window, using the green and red arrow icons at the top of the window. One handy feature here is clicking the red arrow pointing to the right with a vertical line, which will block all network traffic. More advanced users can use filters and rules.

NetBalancer gives you a free trial for 15 days, after which you have to pay a one-time fee of $49.95 to keep using the program. Or, you can keep using it outside of the trial as a network monitor only.

When you launch NetLimiter you will see a list of all your open applications, along with their current bandwidth usage. Of course, some applications will naturally use more bandwidth than others, but it will be easy to identify those that are consuming more than they need.

The default limit is set to 5 KB/s for downloads and uploads, which you can enable by checking the boxes for specific rows. To edit that default, right click number limit to open the rules editor. On tab Rules, you can change the bandwidth limit.

Switch to tab Scheduler and you can set start and stop time conditions. To get started, click Add and then create the rules you need. For example, you can stop your web browser from consuming bandwidth between certain hours.

NetLimiter comes with a 28 day trial period. One user license for the Lite version costs $19.95, while the Pro version costs $29.95.

Net-Peeker has a very simple user interface. At the top, you can see active uploads and download usage, along with access to a brief Settings screen and some of the other features the program offers as a system guard. We will only focus on the ability to limit bandwidth.

The table below lists all active processes on your system, along with their bandwidth consumption. You can click twice process to get very detailed information on tab Network Sessions and Loaded Modules.

Whether on the whole process from the main window or on a specific network session, you can right click to set up the connection. you can speed limit to define a defined bandwidth limit and Abort connection to disconnect everything together (until you open it again).

Net-Peeker gives you a 30 day trial to experience all its features. After that time, you can continue to use the program for $25. If you want the ability to control multiple systems, you’ll need to purchase a group license which starts at $125 for five computers.

SoftPerfect Bandwidth Manager is a good program, but difficult to handle. When you first launch it, you’ll need to enter your network address and password before you can start monitoring traffic.

If you’re comfortable with that, it’s a program worth trying thanks to its decent rule adjustments. Press Ctrl + N to start creating your rules. Move between tabs to see all options, but be sure to mention your rules and define Rate limits what do you want. When finished, click OK to activate your rule.

Use dropdown Tools to manage your bandwidth quota and schedule. Also useful to check Usage Report, which will give you an overview of all your traffic and help you identify specific issues that need to be addressed.

SoftPerfect Bandwidth Manager has a 30 day trial period. After this, you can continue to use the Lite version for free, with a limit of only being able to set five rules. Alternatively, you can pay $49 to upgrade to the Standard version.

Monitor Your Network Usage

These are all great methods to control your bandwidth when using Windows 10. Start with the default Windows 10 tools, then move on to third-party programs if they don’t prove sufficient.

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