Mobile and broadband data caps alike have made people very conscientious of their data usage. Windows 10 includes a built-in network usage monitor that, unlike its predecessor, is actually a pretty useful way to keep an eye on your bandwidth consumption. Read on as we show you how.
What Does (And Doesn’t) The Windows 10 Network Usage Monitor Do?
In Windows 8 Microsoft introduced new ways to monitor your network usage, albeit the initial incarnation of the built-in feature was shortsightedly limited to just Windows Store apps (such that if you used Skype from the Windows Store it would count that data but if you used Skype for Desktop, aka “normal” Skype then it would not).
The network usage and bandwidth monitoring in Windows 10 significantly improves upon the Windows 8 system by including data for all apps, not just Windows Store supplied applications. As such it’s an excellent way to easily check which apps are using the most (or least) data over the previous 30 day window.
As handy and improved as the Windows 10 network usage apps are there’s an important thing to note: they only monitor, as you would expect, the data consumption for the computer you access them on. If you need more advanced network-wide monitoring to keep tabs on all the computers and devices on your network (and not just a single PC) we suggest checking out our article: How to Monitor Your Internet Bandwidth Usage and Avoid Exceeding Data Caps.
If all you need is a quick check to see what is using the most bandwidth over the last 30 day period, however, the built-in tools are fast, easy, and always on.
How To Check Network Usage In Windows 10
There are two ways to natively check the network usage in Windows 10, but we strongly prefer one method over the other. None the less we’ll highlight both methods and explain why one offers a clear benefit.
The first method is a holdover from the Task Manager update in Windows 8. To view network usage via the Task Manager access the Task Manager via keyboard shortcut (CTRL+SHIFT+ESC) or type “task manager” in the Start Menu search box.
In the Task Manager select the “App history” tab. There you’ll find two columns related to data consumption: “Network” and “Metered network”. (Metered network was a feature introduced in Windows 8.1 to help manage data use on capped/paid data connections, you can read more about it here.)
While it’s great this information is right at hand in the Task Manager, you’ll notice something in our screenshot above. All the visible apps are either core Windows apps are Windows Store apps. Maddeningly, the Task Manager still does not display data usage for regular old traditional Windows applications.
In fact if we sort the apps in the Task Manager by name and then compare the list to the other place you can check network usage, in the network settings menu, you’ll see that Chrome appears on the “Network Usage” list and not the list in Task Manager. Why they couldn’t use the same data they clearly have in both panels is a mystery.
As such if you want to get a better picture of the data use on your computer you rely on the information in the network settings section. Navigate to Settings -> Network & Internet. Select the top item on the left hand navigation pane “Data usage”.
Here you’ll see a general overview of the last 30 days. The circular graph will show you data used over different connections (in the case of our screenshot we’ve just used Ethernet but on a laptop you’ve used on both wired and Wi-Fi networks you’ll see a mix of sources).
You can dig deeper and get a more granular overview by clicking on the small link under the the graph labeled “Usage details”.
Here we find the missing data on apps from outside the Windows Store (which is most of the apps most people are using). Chrome, missing from the Task Manager list altogether, shows up right at the top as expected.
Have a pressing Windows 10 question? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to answer it.