One of Windows 10’s new features is its optimized update delivery system. If Microsoft’s servers are busy, Windows 10 can grab updates for the operating system and for Windows Store apps from other computers — either on your local network or over the Internet. The new peer-to-peer (P2P) delivery update mechanism holds the potential to save you a ton of wasted download bandwidth. Using the P2P option, you could download a Windows update once, then use that machine to spread the update to all the PCs on your local network. Yay efficiency!
It’s basically how torrents work: your computer is used as part of a peer to peer network to deliver updates faster to others. It’s a great idea, unless your connection is restricted. The catch, however, is that if this feature is turned on (which it is, by default), your computer also turns into an update-sharing hub, feeding updates to other devices both on and off your network.
Peer-to-peer file-sharing opens up some security concerns, even if it’s only for Windows updates. According to Microsoft, Delivery Optimization uses the same security measures as Windows Update and the Windows Store to ensure no privacy breaches occur; the system checks the authenticity of each part of an update or app downloaded from other PCs against information obtained from Microsoft before installing it. Delivery Optimization cannot access your personal files or folders or change any files on your device.
There’s also a very nasty side effect to this however : Windows 10’s P2P sharing eating into your upload bandwidth and slowing down your network connection. If your PC is feeding updates to other computers over the Internet, it might be eating through your data limit or tying up your bandwidth. Delivery Optimization won’t run if you’re using a metered connection, but you may still want to turn it off just in case. Here’s how to do that.
You’ll find this setting where all the other Windows Update settings now exist, in the Settings app. Open it by clicking the Start button and selecting “Settings” at the bottom-left corner of the Start menu.
1. In the Settings window that appears, click (or tap) the “Update & security” icon.
2.Click the “Advanced options” option at the bottom of the Windows Update pane.
3. Scroll down to the bottom of this pane again and select “Choose how updates are delivered.”
4. Select the option you prefer under “Updates from more than one place.” I recommend just selecting “PCs on my local network” here.
- Off: This disables the peer-to-peer update feature entirely. Updates will only be downloaded from Microsoft’s servers, and won’t be uploaded to anywhere.
- PCs on my local network: This is the best option. With this enabled, you’ll benefit from peer-to-peer updates on your home or work network. This means faster downloads and less download bandwidth used. You’ll only have to download the updates once and they’ll be shared amongst all your PCs. Your PC will never upload updates over the Internet.
- PCs on my local network, and PCs on the Internet: This option is the default, although it probably shouldn’t be. With this enabled, Windows 10 will upload updates from your PC to other computers over the Internet. These computers would normally just download updates from Microsoft, but Microsoft will save on bandwidth because they’re getting some updates from your Internet connection.
You Can Also Set Your Connection as Metered
You could also set your current Wi-Fi connection as “metered.” When you set a connection as metered, you’re telling Windows it’s a connection with restricted data — such as a mobile data connection or a Wi-FI hotspot from a smartphone you’re tethered to. Windows won’t upload updates on a metered connection — it won’t even automatically download Windows updates.
To set your current Wi-FI network as a metered connection, open the Settings app and navigate to
- Network & Internet
- Wi-Fi > Manage known networks
- Select your network and click properties
- Activate the toggle under “Set as metered connection.” The current Wi-Fi network will become a metered connection.
This isn’t necessary if you’ve already disabled peer-to-peer updates in general. It will also prevent your Windows 10 PC from sharing updates with other computers on the same local network.