Surface Updates Over Metered Connection – aka Mobile Broadband

Surface updates on metered connection

You already know that your Surface tablet or book is running the Windows Operating System (OS). And you, also, know that this means that you have to keep up with the updates for both the OS and the device itself, right? Well, I hope you do.

There are three basic types of updates that you will see:

  • Operating System
  • Firmware (hardware and driver)
  • Software

The top two are especially important and exceptionally so, if you have one of the new Surface Pro 4s or Surface Books.


Simply put it’s because both the OS and the hardware are brand new on these devices and, hence, Microsoft is applying fixes and improvements as they are made aware of glitches and bugs. Some folks have experienced problems with their new devices and applying the latest updates often fixes them. Normally, updates are applied to your Surface device automatically.

Unfortunately, they are often large and take quite a bit of bandwidth and time to download them.

But, what if you’re traveling a lot and don’t have access to fast WiFi? And worse yet, you depend on a metered connection, like Data sharing through your phone?

In this type of scenario Microsoft updates can get tricky.

By default, if you use mobile broadband to connect to the Internet on your Surface, your connection is automatically set to metered. This means that updates likely won’t download. This is by design, so that your Surface doesn’t accidentally gobble up all of your Data bandwidth and cause you to have to pay extra. It’s basically a builtin safety precaution. So, it’s best to connect to Wi-Fi to make sure you get all updates. However, that is not always possible.

If you are sure that you have plenty of mobile broadband (like you have unlimited data plan) and you want to update your Surface device, you can allow the updates.

To do so, do the following:

  • Log into your metered connection.
  • Go to Start and select Settings\Network & Internet

updates over metered connection

  • Select Advanced options and change Set as metered connection to OFF


Keep in mind that this could take a while. The amount of time it takes to download and install updates will vary on the speed of your connection and the size and number of the updates. So, be patient. When I’m traveling, I like to do this before I go to bed and let it go until it’s finished.

Beware that when this setting is activated, it is set on connection by connection basis. So, the minute you are off that connection, everything goes back to defaults.

Alternatively, you can also perform the steps above in reverse. You can do it on a WiFi connect and set it to metered.

Why would you want to do that?

Well, this way updates won’t auto-download and tie up your WiFi bandwidth. It’s a way to delay updates if you don’t want them.



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