Manage your mobile broadband data usage

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

Applies to

Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro.

Applies to

Surface 2, Surface RT.

Applies to

Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro.

Applies to

Surface 2, Surface RT.

Operating system:

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 data on your plan.

Managing your data usage can help you stay within your total allotted 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 pinning apps, see Pin apps to Start.

Important
If you leave your mobile broadband operator’s service area, you could be charged roaming fees in addition to your data usage. 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 mobile broadband. 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 use can help you avoid extra charges and select the right data plan for your needs.

Note
The data usage that shows up in the Networks list is only an estimate. Your actual data usage is measured by your mobile operator. If you have a mobile broadband app, check it, because some apps show data usage estimates.

To view estimated data usage:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, or select Action center Notification icon in taskbar in the taskbar.
Step 2:Press and hold (or right-click) Cellular, and select Go to settings.
Step 3: Select Data usage to see your total usage for the past 30 days.
Step 4: To see how much data each of your apps has used, select Usage details.

Set your mobile broadband 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 live tiles, and restricting other things that send and receive data. For example, low priority Windows updates will not download, and app downloads from the Windows Store may be paused until a Wi-Fi connection is available.

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, or select Action center Notification icon in taskbar in the taskbar.
Step 2: Press and hold (or right-click) Cellular, and select Go to settings.
Step 3: Select your mobile operator, and select Advanced Options.
Note
If Cellular is off, you'll see a status of Radio off. Select Cellular in the Action center to turn it on.
Step 4: Under Data usage, see whether Set as metered connection is on or off. You can select the slider to change the setting.

Use OneDrive over unmetered connections

When you sign in with a Microsoft account, your personal settings, preferences, and files stored on OneDrive 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.

If you’re using a metered connection when you open OneDrive, you’ll get a notification reminding you that you’re on a metered network and suggesting that you exit OneDrive. You’ll get a similar notification if you switch to a metered connection while you’re using OneDrive. To save network charges, press and hold (or right click) OneDrive in the taskbar, and select Exit.

See Using OneDrive on Surface for more details.

Download maps over unmetered connections

By default, maps are downloaded only over unmetered connections like free Wi-Fi, to save data usage. If you need another map while you’re on the road, you can change the setting and download a new map over mobile broadband.

To download a map:

Step 1: Sign in where you have an unmetered Internet connection.
Step 2: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or select Action center Notification icon in taskbar in the taskbar, and select All Settings > System > Offline maps.
Step 3: Select Download a map, then select a continent and country. For some countries you’ll need to select a region. The map will start to download immediately.

To download maps over metered connections:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or select Action center Notification icon in taskbar in the taskbar, and select All Settings > System > Offline maps.
Step 2: Under Metered connections, set the slider to On.
Note
Map updates are downloaded only when your Surface in plugged in and on an unmetered network, even if you are set up to download new maps over a metered connection.

Restrict location tracking

Some apps and services transmit your location. You can choose which apps can transmit your location both for privacy and to save on data charges. Or, turn off location detection altogether, and switch it back on when you want it.

Here’s how to toggle location detection on or off:

  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or select Action center Notification icon in taskbar in the taskbar, and select Location to toggle location on or off.
  • If Location won’t turn on, it has probably been turned off for everyone using this Surface. Here’s how to turn it back on.

    Step 1: Sign in with an Administrator account.
    Step 2: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or select Action center Notification icon in taskbar in the taskbar, press and hold (or right click) Location, and select Go to settings.
    Step 3: If you want to turn location detection off or on for everyone using your Surface, select Change, and select the slider in the popup box. To close the popup, select anywhere outside the box.

    Here’s how to choose which apps transmit your location:

    Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or select Action center Notification icon in taskbar in the taskbar, press and hold (or right click) Location, and select Go to settings.
    Step 2: Scroll down to choose which apps can use your location info.

    Limit 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 sharing your connection or doing data-intensive activities over mobile broadband. Apps that stream data to your Surface and sharing your connection are especially data-intensive. Some examples include:

    • Streaming music or video
    • Playing online games
    • Video calling and chat
    • Sharing a mobile hotspot
    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 select Connect Anyway in the warning bar. For more info, see Install and use Microsoft Office on Surface Pro and Surface 3.

    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. For info on how to change these settings, see Set up and use email 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 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 avoid extra charges and 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 select Settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and select Settings.)
    Step 2: select Change PC settings > Network, and select your mobile broadband connection.
    Step 3: Turn on Show my estimated data use in the Networks list.
    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, because some apps show data usage estimates.

    To view estimated data usage:

    Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and select Settings.
    Step 2:Select the network icon.
    Step 3: Select 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 select Settings.
    Step 2: Select Change PC settings > Network > Connections.
    Step 3: Select the connection you want to change, and under Data usage, turn Set as a metered connection on or off.

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

    Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and select Settings.
    Step 2: Select 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 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 select Settings > Change PC settings > OneDrive.
    Step 2: Select Metered connections, and 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 select Settings > Change PC settings > PC and devices > Devices.
    Step 2: 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, such as using apps that stream data to your Surface or 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 select 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: Select the Mail app.
    Step 2: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and select Settings > Accounts.
    Step 3: Choose the email account you want to modify.
    Step 4: Select the box under Download new email, and select how often you want your email to download.

    The Manual setting means that email will sync only when you ask it to and uses the least amount of data.
    Step 5: Select Download email from, and select how many days of email you want to download.

    The setting The last 3 days will download only your most recent email and uses the least amount of data.
    Note
    To download email from an account that is set to sync manually, swipe up from the bottom of the Mail app, select More, and select Sync.

    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 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 avoid extra charges and 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 tap Settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Settings.)
    Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click Network, and tap or click your mobile broadband connection.
    Step 3: Turn on Show my estimated data use in the Networks list.
    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, because some apps show data usage estimates.

    To view estimated data usage:

    Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and 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 tap Settings.
    Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click Network, and tap or click Connections.
    Step 3: Tap or click the connection you want to change, and under Data usage, turn Set as a metered connection on or off.

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

    Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap or 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 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 tap Settings.
    Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, and tap or click OneDrive.
    Step 3: Tap or click Metered connections, and 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 tap Settings.
    Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click PC and devices, and 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, such as using apps that stream data to your Surface or 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 tap 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 tap or click how often you want your email to download.
    The Manual setting means that email will sync only when you ask it to and uses the least amount of data.
    Step 6: Tap or click Download email from, and tap or click how many days of email you want to download.
    The setting The last 3 days will download only your most recent email and uses the least amount of data.
    Note
    To download email from an account that is set to sync manually, swipe up from the bottom of the Mail app, tap or click More, and tap or click Sync.

    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 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 avoid 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 tap Settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Settings.)
    Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click Network, and tap or click your mobile broadband connection.
    Step 3: Turn on Show my estimated data use in the Networks list.
    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, because some apps show data usage estimates.

    To view estimated data usage:

    Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and 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 tap Settings.
    Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click Network, and tap or click Connections.
    Step 3: Tap or click the connection you want to change, and under Data usage, turn Set as a metered connection on or off.

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

    Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap or 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 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 tap Settings.
    Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, and tap or click OneDrive.
    Step 3: Tap or click Metered connections, and 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 tap Settings.
    Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click PC and devices, and 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, such as using apps that stream data to your Surface or 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 tap 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 tap or click how often you want your email to download.
    The Manual setting means that email will sync only when you ask it to and uses the least amount of data.
    Step 6: Tap or click Download email from, and tap or click how many days of email you want to download.
    The setting The last 3 days will download only your most recent email and uses the least amount of data.
    Note
    To download email from an account that is set to sync manually, swipe up from the bottom of the Mail app, tap or click More, and tap or click Sync.

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