Tech by VICE

Automatic Windows 10 Updates Chewing Through Data Caps

Gee, thanks for asking.

by Nicholas Deleon
Aug 24 2015, 8:42pm

Image: Microsoft

Privacy activists and software pirates aren't the only people who have a bone to pick with Windows 10.

A number of users have taken to social media in recent days to complain about the amount of data they're blowing through thanks to the operating system's default setting of automatically downloading updates and using users' own bandwidth, BitTorrent-style, to upload patches for other users.

Microsoft's defense of the feature is that automatically downloading and installing updates better keeps users safe from malware, but ignores the legitimate concerns of people on metered bandwidth plans.

While Microsoft does let Windows 10 users turn off automatic updates, doing so requires some effort. Another setting can be toggled to temporarily turn off automatic updates, but does not apply to hardwire connections.

Microsoft has so far released three significant Windows 10 updates since its July 29 release, which, depending on user settings, can total up to 5GB in size. For some users, that equals about one-third of their monthly bandwidth allocation for a couple of patches.

"While broadband caps are a problem," lamented one Reddit user, "there's no good reason your OS should be eating through that much data on top of other uses."

Data caps for home broadband connections are not altogether uncommon in the US: Comcast, the nation's largest broadband provider, implements 300GB caps in select cities, while satellite broadband providers routinely implement more strict caps.