Windows 10 allows you to set a Wifi connection as a “Metered” connection, but no such GUI option existed for Ethernet (LAN) networks. In Windows 8 and Windows 10 v1607 and earlier, you needed to apply a registry edit to set Ethernet or LAN connection as metered. Thankfully, with Windows 10 Creators Update, it’s a built-in option that can be configured using the Settings UI — no registry edit required.
Wi‑Fi network connections are set as non-metered by default. However you can change set it to metered in order to limit data usage by the user as well as the Operating System, if your ISP charges you by the amount of data traffic you use.
Mobile broadband networks, on the other hand, are set to metered by default. There are mobile broadband service providers that allow unlimited data plans with full speed for a fixed fee monthly. In such cases, you may want to change the setting to non-metered.
Coming to Ethernet networks, because one uses an Ethernet connection, it doesn’t mean it has no data usage limit. Ethernet is just the medium you use to access or share an internet connection which can be capped, too.
I have two different setups. One uses a mobile broadband modem which plugs into a power socket using a travel adapter. The connection is shared via Wi-Fi. Another setup uses a fiber network whose endpoint connects to my TP-Link router. The connection is shared via Ethernet (with three computers) as well as through Wi-Fi so that my tablets and mobiles can connect to it when at home. In either case, my providers charge me by data usage given the plan I opted for.
How to Set Ethernet (LAN) connection as metered in Windows 10
If you access the internet via Ethernet whose source connection is capped, you can still set it as a metered connection to reduce data usage by the Operating System and the Apps.
For Windows 10 v1703 and higher
Windows 10 Creators Update and higher versions have an option to set ethernet connection as metered, without needing to edit the registry. The setting is incorporated into the Settings UI. To access the setting, use these steps:
- Click Start, Settings (or press Winkey + i)
- Click Network & Internet
- Click Ethernet, and click the network connection listed.
- Click to enable the option “Set as metered connection”
For Windows 10 v1607 (Anniversary Update) and earlier
Here is how to set an Ethernet connection as Metered, using the registry in Windows 10. The instructions should apply to Windows 8 as well.
- Start the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) and go to the following key:
This key is owned by TrustedInstaller by default. You’ll need to take ownership of the key and assign full control permissions for “Administrators” group.
- Double-click Ethernet and set its value data to
2. (Value data of
1means non-metered and
- Once done, revert back the ownership to TrustedInstaller (“
NT Service\TrustedInstaller“) for that branch.
- Exit the Registry Editor.
What happens when using a metered internet connection?
When on metered connection, Microsoft Outlook would show the notification “Outlook is working offline to prevent data charges..” and offers the “Connect Anyway” option.
Whereas other apps may reduce their data usage but won’t necessarily show you a notification.
When you set a connection as metered, Windows Update won’t automatically download updates, except perhaps the priority updates. You’ll need to click the “Download” button manually to install updates. Start screen tiles might stop updating. Offline files automatic sync may not work. Also, Windows Store won’t update apps automatically.
Image credits: Martinelle, pixabay.com
About the author
Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in Windows — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP (2003-2012) who contributes to various Windows support forums.