Protect your cellphone data from Windows 10 updates

Last Update: Jan 29, 2017


When I used to tether my cellphone to my laptop to get internet access through my 4G connection, I sometimes got a nasty surprise in that hundreds and hundreds of megabytes were getting downloaded in the background. The culprit was Windows 10 updates.

There are two ways to connect your laptop to the internet through your cellphone:

1. You can connect them with a USB cable and enable tethering on the cellphone.

While this provides a quick and convenient way to get internet access through your phone, it does have a serious downside. The internet connection appears to Windows 10 as an Ethernet connection. Windows 10 updates can silently download whenever they'd like and can put quite a drain on your cellphone's data.

2. You can enable your cellphone as a Wifi hotspot and connect to that hotspot from your laptop.

One of the properties that can be set for Wifi connections in Windows 10 is to designate the connection as "metered". A metered connection prevents updates from being downloaded in the background.

Designating your Wifi hotspot as a metered connection is a simple process:

First, click on the "Properties" link on the connections pane:

On the Properties page that opens, scroll down to the "Set as metered connection" setting and turn it on.

Recent Comments


Thanks for sharing; I still find this part of my education sadly lacking, I think it is a defensive mechanism to keep my creative batteries charged.

I have metered connection set on my computer anyway because the updates were sometimes slowing down my computer. I would go to switch it on and it would sometimes spend ages installing updates on bootup.

Now I manually update my computer on Fridays, along with other similar tasks.

You would think a company as big as Microsoft, who has been around this long, would not still be making such stupid mistakes, wouldn't you?

When you say you have it "set on my computer", do you mean that there's a way to make all of your connections metered with just one setting?

Sorry, no, I meant main main Wifi internet connection.

Thanks for the clarification. I was wondering if there was some setting that I had missed.

You would think there would be, wouldn't you? Over 30 years of Windows and they still miss things like this.

Wow, that's great information.

Thanks for sharing, Bob.

Thanks for the heads up and for the useful information about how to deal with this.

While I was a little slow on catching this, the fix turned out to be quite simple.

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