Windows Update takes a lot of internet bandwidth, whether you believe or not. Sometimes, if the updates are the build releases, which often could be a few Gigabit, it could use up all your internet bandwidth to take down your network for a while. While getting updates is inevitable, here are a few tips that could help you minimize the impact of the update.
When the update already started
If the update has already begun to choke up your internet bandwidth, rather than shutting down the computer, you can suspend the svchost process to hold the update until you are ready to resume. But which one exactly since multiple svchost processes are running at any moment? It’s the one called svchost (netsvcs) that needs to be suspended.
Open Resource Monitor, sort the Image name in CPU tab, right-click svchost (netsvcs) and choose Suspend Process.
Confirm the action, and you will see that the process is in Suspended mode and network traffic drops down to the flat.
The drawback is, while you can still work on your files to get some jobs done some network-related application may be interrupted until the service resumed.
Two great network apps
Since Windows doesn’t have a built-in app or setting that can throttle particular type of network, here come two 3rd part apps to fill the gap. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any free or open-sourced app that does the same as these two paid apps. If you know any, feel free to share in the comment.
NetBalancer blocks or limits internet access to any process, or set custom rules and filters based on IP, network protocol, time of day or any of the dozens of available parameters. They used to offer a free version that allows to limit up to 3 type of network processes, but not anymore. However, you can still try it our for free for 15 days. After that, it costs you about $50 to continue using the app.
NetLimiter provides you the full network control over your computer, not only for internet usage but local area network as well, with features like:
- Full internet bandwidth control over applications and computers
- Powerful connection blocker
- Long-term internet traffic statistics
- Fully customizable behaviour using user-defined Rules and Filters
It offers a 30-day free trial and costs about $20 to continue using the app after the free trial.
Personally, I like NetLimiter a bit more than NetBalancer, though both of the apps are great at what it does. NetLimiter offers more network features, and it costs less than NetBalancer.
Change active hours
Setting up the active hours in Windows 10 makes the download only happen in the inactive window, which will minimize the impact to the whole network.
Open Settings app, go to Update & security, then Change active hours under Update settings to make sure the time range setup matches your work schedule.
A Group Policy settings to help out
If a paid app isn’t your thing and you are still using Windows 7 or 8.1, you can try this Windows Update related Group Policy setting to remedy the situation.
Open Group Policy Editor, and navigate to the following location:
Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Windows Update
Configure Automatic Update has a few options to control how the computer receives the updates and other important downloads.
Enable the setting and choose the second option to only notify but not download the update so you have more control when to start downloading the big updates.
Also, some of the websites mention this Group Policy setting that may help the situation, but I find it’s not working on my Windows 10 computer. Maybe it works in Windows 7 but not Windows 10. Feedback is also welcomed here.
The setting is called “Limit the maximum network bandwidth for BITS background transfers” under
Computer Configuration / Administartive Templates / Network / Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)
Disable Windows Update
Windows 10 Update Disabler is a free little tool that runs as a service at the background and terminates attempts by Windows Update to install any updates. Thanks to Winero for bringing up this tool.
According to the author, it does not rely on Windows Registry values because Windows can overwrite them anytime without your knowledge or consent. Instead, it uses an undocumented system call to check the current state of Windows Update and tries to terminate it immediately. Once started, it also disables all scheduled tasks related to Windows Update, including the task which automatically restarts your PC while you are in the middle of something important.
That’s about it for now. Hope it helps. Feel free to share your experience in the comment below to help others.
/Update on July 10, 2017/
As of Windows 10 Build 16237, you can limit the bandwidth used for Windows Update right from Settings.