Windows 10 Tutorial: Stop Using Your Bandwidth to Share Updates

With Windows 10’s release, Microsoft implemented a new method of acquiring updates via an integrated peer-to-peer system. This system enables you to share updates you download with other computers in your network or with completely unrelated computers on the Internet. Likewise, updates you receive might come from Microsoft, another computer on your network or an unknown user on the Internet.

Supposedly, Microsoft’s reason for this move is to optimize download speeds by downloading from the fastest available location and not requiring networked computers from downloading the same update multiple times. However, many users suspect the real reason is simply to reduce strain on Microsoft servers by deferring the bandwidth requirement to its customers.

Although there is merit to this feature, there are also considerable concerns. First, you are using your own bandwidth to provide a service for which Microsoft is responsible, and that is especially problematic if you’re on a metered connection where overages cost you money. Second, you are creating a peered connection with unknown computers, theoretically creating a privacy or security risk. Finally, any time you download files from a peered source, you run the risk of viruses or spoofed packages. Surely Microsoft has considered the latter two issues and has likely taken precautions, but the threat is an unacceptable non-zero risk with virtually no upside.

Unless you’re feeling altruistic, you might consider disabling shared updates or at least restricting them to trusted computers on your own network. This option is buried deep in the system settings, which might make you wonder how badly Microsoft wants you to keep it enabled.

Access Update Settings

1. Click the Start button on the taskbar and select Settings.

2. Click Update & Security from the Settings pane.

3. Click the Windows Update tab and select Advanced Options at the bottom of the right pane.

4. Click Choose How Updates Are Delivered near the bottom of the window.

5. Move the Updates From More Than One Place slider to the Off position to disable updating sharing entirely.

Alternatively, leave the slider in the On position, but select PCs on My Local Network to restrict sharing to trusted computers.

Selecting PCs on My Local Network, and PCs on the Internet opens sharing up to/from virtually any Windows 10 computer in the world. Given that downloads happen in the background anyway, you’re unlikely to ever notice any speed improvement from this setting, if any improvement exists at all, so it’s highly recommended you don’t select this option. The only time you might consider enabling it is if you’re in a country or on a network that blocks Windows update servers (rare), so your only option is acquiring updates through peers.