Many travelers use their cellular devices as Wi-Fi hotspots. For example, we have smartphones with a Verizon Data Plan for Internet access. We turn a phone into a hotspot and connect our computers’ Wi-Fi to that hotspot. When the computer is working on the Internet, it is consuming Internet resources from our Verizon Data Plan. Many other people have a mobile hotspot called a MiFi or a Jetpack that their computers connect to. These are also powered by a cellular contract for data (Internet usage.) If your cellular contract has data limits, Windows 8 refers to it as a “Metered” connection. That means it is not free and usage needs to be watched.
Everyone’s limits are different. You need to know what your cell provider contract specifies. Let’s say you have a 5 Gigabytes/month plan. If you download a 2 Gigabyte Windows update, and watch a 2 hour movie on Netflix, you’ve used up the majority of your plan – and you may only be 2 days into your month! If you go over your limits, there will probably be a charge. This also depends on your contract. Some mobile internet providers do not charge for overage, they throttle your connection, meaning they slow it way down.
Other Wi-Fi connections, like a free RV Park Wi-Fi hotspot, or a home network, may be unlimited. That would be considered an UNmetered connection to the Internet.
There are three things that Windows 8.1 can do for you:
- Track the amount of data (Internet usage) that is happening over a given connection
- Define a connection as metered or unmetered
- Limit the Internet usage when connected to a metered connection
You can see your possible Wi-Fi network connections by clicking on the 5-bar Network icon in the task bar (bottom right.)
If you don’t see the taskbar, just move your mouse to the bottom of your screen and it will appear.
Settings while using a Metered Connection
Updates: While connected to a metered connection, Windows Update will only download priority updates, not all updates.
Store: The Windows Store will pause downloading apps — including updates for apps.
Start Screen: live tiles on your Start screen won’t update.
Search: Bing search will not automatically give search suggestions or web results
OneDrive Synchronizing: You can choose to allow (or not) OneDrive to upload and download files while using a metered connection. Open (or search for) your PC Settings->OneDrive->Metered Connections.
- Upload and Download files over metered connections. Turn that OFF
- Sync and backup settings over metered connections. Turn that OFF (although this uses less bandwidth and you may choose to leave it on)
Learn more about Wi-Fi and Mobile Internet
If you use Internet while you travel there is a lot to know. If you like using public Wi-Fi hotspots and want to learn how to get better results, we recommend the booklet from our friends at TechnoRV titled: Guide to Boosting your RV’s WiFi. It’s a quick read with plenty of pictures. You will understand a lot more of what’s involved in connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot so you can be an educated consumer. The booklet also details the 3 levels of solutions that TechnoRV sells. We know that they use everything they sell and they know what they’re talking about.
If you want to learn everything about mobile Internet – not just Wi-Fi, but cellular and satellite as well, check out our Technomadia friends. They are devoting themselves to keeping up with all the options and they have a website and a book focused on RV Mobile Internet. See RVMobileInternet.com