Monitor Your Data Usage in Windows 10

Track and limit the amount of data you use on Windows 10

A man with a backpack using Wi-Fi on his laptop

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While browsing the web, playing an online game, chatting in a collaboration tool like Slack or doing anything that requires us to be on the internet, we often take for granted the fact that we're sometimes sending and receiving a significant amount of bits and bytes over our service provider's network with our Windows 10 devices. Whether on Wi-Fi or plugged in directly to a broadband modem or other network connection, the amount of data used on a regular basis might shock you.

In most cases, our plans grant us unlimited access so it's not something people often think about. However, if you're subscribed to an internet plan that limits the amount of data you can use each month then this is something that you have to pay careful attention to. Thankfully, Windows 10 offers the ability to monitor your data usage on-the-fly and make sure that you aren't close to or over your ISP plan's designated cap.

How to Check Data Usage in Windows 10 Task Manager

Take the following steps to monitor data usage through the Windows Task Manager.

You'll notice that not all of your applications are displayed here, most notably any web browsers other than Microsoft Edge. To see data usage for these other programs, you'll need to utilize the Settings interface outlined below.

  1. Right-click on any blank space within your Windows taskbar, preferably on the far-right hand side of your shortcut icons. 

  2. When the pop-up menu appears, select the Task Manager option.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 Taskbar menu
  3. The Task Manager interface should now be displayed, overlaying your desktop. Click on the App history tab, located towards the top of the Task Manager window.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 Task Manager
  4. A list of applications should now be visible, along with the following sortable columns for each: CPU time, Network, Metered network and Tile updates. The Network column contains the actual data usage figures for each respective application, represented in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). If your data connection is metered you may also be interested in the figures shown in the Metered network column. 

By default, the data shown in the App history tab is compiled over the last 30 days. To reset this counter and start anew, click on the 'Delete usage history' link.

How to Monitor Data Usage in Windows 10 Settings

Take the following steps to check data usage via the Windows Settings interface.

  1. Enter the following text in the Windows Search box, located in the lower left-hand corner of the screen next to the Start button: settings

    A screenshot of Windows 10 search results
  2. When the pop-out menu appears, click on the Settings: Trusted Microsoft Store app option, found under the Best match heading.

  3. The Windows Settings interface should now be displayed, overlaying your desktop. Select Network & Internet.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 Settings interface
  4. Click on Data usage, located in the left menu pane.

    A screenshot of Windows 10 Network settings
  5. An overview of both your Wi-Fi and Ethernet usage will now be shown, containing the total amount of data (MB or GB) utilized on each network over the last 30 days. To see a breakdown by application, click on the View usage per app link, located directly below these figures. To see data spent on a different network, select a different option from the Show usage from drop-down menu.

    A screenshot of Windows 10 Data Usage details

    Unlike in the Task Manager, you cannot reset usage statistics within the Windows Settings interface.

  6. A list of all applications will now be displayed, each accompanied by the amount of data used over the last 30 days along with a bar indicating relative usage compared to your other apps. This list is ranked from highest to lowest in terms of recent data usage.

How to Limit Your Windows 10 Data Usage

Aside from simply utilizing data-hungry applications less often, there are restrictions that can be put in place to help alleviate some of your usage concerns.

  1. Return to the Data usage settings interface by repeating steps 1-4 above.

  2. Click on the Set limit button, located in the Data limit section.

  3. The Set data limit dialog should now appear, overlaying the main Settings window. From here you can choose to set a usage limit (in MB or GB) for a specific time interval, the most common being monthly to correspond with your particular data plan. 

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 Set data limit interface
  4. Once satisfied with your data limit settings, click on the Save button.

  5. Below the Data limit section is Background data, containing two radio buttons labeled Always and Never. Even while you're idle or using another application, many built-in Windows features and apps that originate from the Microsoft Store often perform tasks in the background that involve sending and receiving data over your Wi-Fi network. You can limit this hidden data usage by selecting the Always option, which is disabled by default.