Applies to

Surface RT, Surface 2, Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1.


Manage your mobile broadband data usage

Here are some tips and tricks for minimizing your mobile broadband data usage on Surface.


Connecting to the Internet via mobile broadband lets you just grab your Surface and go without worrying about finding Wi-Fi connections out on the road but it will use up data on your plan.

Managing your data use can help you stay within your total allotted data use for the month. Some mobile operators have apps available in the Windows Store that allow you to track your estimated data usage. Pin the app to Start for quick access. For more info on using and pinning apps, see Adding apps, websites, and more to Start.

Important
If you leave your mobile broadband operator’s service area, you could be charged roaming fees in addition to your data use. Check with your mobile operator to find out about its service area and to learn about the options you may have when you travel outside of it.

Connect to Wi-Fi

Connect to a Wi-Fi network whenever one is available. Wi-Fi is typically faster and less expensive than using a mobile broadband connection. If you’re connected to both Wi-Fi and mobile broadband, Surface will use the Wi-Fi connection. For steps and tips for connecting to Wi-Fi, see Connect Surface to a wireless network.

Keep track of your data usage

Keeping track of how much data you’ve used can help you prevent extra charges and can help you select the right data plan for your needs. To see how much data you’ve used, you can set it to show up in your Networks list. Here’s how:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Settings.)
Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, and tap or click Network, and then tap or click your mobile broadband connection.
Step 3: Turn Show my estimated data use in the Networks list on.
Note
The data usage that shows up in the Networks list is only an estimate—your actual data use is measured by your mobile operator. If you have a mobile broadband app, check it as some apps show data usage estimates.

To view estimated data usage:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap or click Settings.
Step 2: Tap or click the network icon.
Step 3: Tap or click the name of your mobile broadband network to display the network information including your estimated usage.

Change your network connection to metered

By default, your Surface will apply a metered setting when you are connected to mobile broadband. This setting can help you reduce the amount of data you use by doing things like limiting updates, pausing downloads, not updating Start screen tiles, and restricting other things that send and receive data. See Metered Internet connections: FAQ for details.

You can check to see if your connection is set to metered, and change it if you like. Here’s how:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Settings.)
Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click Network, and then tap or click Connections.
Step 3: Tap or click the connection you want to change, and then, under Data usage, turn Set as a metered connection on or off.

You can also set a limit to how much data tile updates use. To do this:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap or click Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Settings.)
Step 2: Tap or click Tiles.
Step 3: Under Data used for tile updates, select the data limit you want from the dropdown box.

Limit OneDrive syncing

When you sign in with a Microsoft account, your personal settings, preferences, and files stored on OneDrive (formerly called SkyDrive) are synced to any PC that you sign in to. Because moving files to or from OneDrive involves data transmission and counts against your data plan limit, you may want to use OneDrive only when you are connected to Wi-Fi, not mobile broadband. See Using OneDrive on Surface for more details.

To choose not to sync settings over a metered connection:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Settings.)
Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, and then tap or click OneDrive.
Step 3: Tap or click Metered connections, and then under Sync settings, turn off both sliders.

Manage Windows and Surface updates and app downloads

When you’re using a mobile broadband connection, low priority Windows updates will not download and app downloads from the Windows store may be paused until a Wi-Fi connection is available. To see if you’re using a metered connection:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Settings.)
Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click PC and devices, and then tap or click Devices.
Step 3: To reduce data use, Download over metered connections should be Off.
If your mobile broadband service is unlimited, you could consider leaving this option on.

Limit your data-intensive activities

If you’re concerned about running out of data before the end of the month, consider reducing the amount of time you spend doing data-intensive activities. These are primarily apps that stream data to your Surface and sharing your connection. Some examples include:

  • Streaming music or video
  • Playing games
  • Sharing a mobile hotspot
  • Video calling and chat
  • Real-time mapping with GPS
Note
Data used by any device connected to a mobile hotspot hosted by your Surface counts against your data plan.

Manage email

Changing your email download settings to manual instead of automatic can help reduce your data usage. Here’s how:

Outlook

If you are using Outlook on the Desktop to manage some or all of your email, it will automatically switch to working offline when you are connected to a metered connection in order to limit data usage. To change this, open Outlook and tap or click Connect Anyway in the warning bar.

Mail app

If you are using the Mail app to manage the rest or all of your email, you can choose how often to sync your email, how many days’ of email to sync, and more. To do this:

Step 1: Tap or click the Mail app.
Step 2: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Settings.)
Step 3: Tap or click Accounts.
Step 4: Choose the email account you want to modify.
Step 5: Tap or click the box under Download new email, and then tap or click how often you want your email to download.
The Manual setting means that email will only sync when you ask it to and uses the least amount of data.
Step 6: Tap or click Download email from, and then tap or click how many days of email you want to download.
The setting The last 3 days will only download your most recent email and uses the least amount of data.
Note
To download email from an account that is set to manually sync, swipe up from the bottom of the Mail app, tap or click More, and tap or click Sync.


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