Did you know that Microsoft is using your Windows 10 PC and essentially stealing your internet bandwidth, without your consent, to distribute Windows updates to other Windows 10 users? All this thanks to the "Windows Update Delivery Optimization", which is enabled on Windows 10 Home and Pro by default.
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Table of Contents
What is the Windows Update Delivery Optimization
In previous versions of Windows, whenever a Windows update was available, the operating system downloaded it from one of Microsoft's servers.
This method comes at a cost for the company, as it requires a significant amount of bandwidth, which doesn't come cheap. And if a server were overloaded, the download speed would be slow for all connected users.
So, in Windows 10 Microsoft introduced the Windows Update Delivery Optimization. Instead of users downloading all the Windows update data from Microsoft's servers, users that had already downloaded the updates will automatically upload them for other users to download.
If that sounds familiar, it's because the BitTorrent protocol works similarly. When we are downloading a movie via torrent, we aren't downloading it from a central server or a website. We are getting it from other users, who have already downloaded the movie and are now sharing it.
This method of file sharing is called Peer-to-Peer, or P2P because the main exchange of data is done between users (peers). Beyond BitTorrent, it has been used for a bunch of protocols.
In theory, it is a great system. Most of us at home don't fully utilize our full upload bandwidth - unless we are seeding torrents, that is. The peer to peer method can help everyone get their updates much faster, with little bandwidth cost for any individual user. 10KB/s times 1 million users would give a total bandwidth of 10GB/s.
There is one major problem, though.
Microsoft never asked us. Ever.
It's one thing if we want to donate part of our bandwidth to Microsoft or any other project. But having us participate in this peer-to-peer network by default is an entirely different thing. After all, there is no torrent client that doesn't tell us when we are seeding.
Microsoft claims that the Windows Update Delivery Optimization "does not slow down your internet connection" and uses a "limited portion" of idle upload bandwidth. As if Microsoft knows our internet connection speed or the available bandwidth. In any case, this is irrelevant.
They could have asked during the account customization.
They could have it disabled by default, and ask through a pop-up window the first time Windows Update run.
To not ask at all, and have it as the default behavior is akin bandwidth theft, plain and simple. And it shows that Microsoft only cares about its bandwidth costs, and not how fast we will be getting the updates. Or else, if it were for the users, they would have advertised this feature, instead of bury it.
What's worse, if someone is on a metered connection, this upload could work against their data cap, without them even knowing it.
So, let's see how to disable this feature.
How to disable the Windows Update Delivery Optimization
As it can be expected for such a shady feature, Windows Update Delivery Optimization isn't particularly easy to find.
First, we need to search for "Windows Update" and select the "Advanced Windows Update options'.
Then, we click on "Choose how updates are delivered"
Finally, we can turn it off.
We can also leave it on and change it to "PCs on my local network". This way, if we have two or more PCs on an LAN, only one PC needs to get the latest updates from the internet, and the rest will get the updates through the local network. With at least 100Mbps bandwidth, that will pose no problem to the network.
How do you feel about the Windows Update Delivery Optimization?
If Microsoft had asked consent for this feature, would you have been OK with it? Will you leave it enabled anyway to help other Windows users get their updates faster? Leave us a comment.
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