Further Configuring a Cellular Data Connection
As with a wireless (Wi‑Fi) connection, you can right‑click (or tap on and hold) a cellular data connection to view additional options. These include the following:
We’re not sure why this isn’t enabled by default for a cellular data connection, since it is such useful information. Our advice is to enable it and, especially on connections with a limited data allowance, keep an eye on usage.
• Show/Hide estimated data usage: This option is actually a toggle. When it’s enabled, you’ll see a data usage estimate whenever you select the connection.
• Set as metered/non‑metered connection: This option is enabled by default for cellular data connections, meaning that Windows 8 correctly treats such networks as metered. A metered connection is one that is limited to a certain amount of bandwidth for a certain period of time, typically a month. Most wireless carriers offer tiers of service, with monthly allotments of 250 MB, 2 GB, 5 GB, and so on. So most users will want to ensure that their device isn’t sopping up the available bandwidth each month. And this is where Windows 8 provides some interesting functionality.
When you’re connected to the Internet with just a metered connection, Windows 8 changes its behavior to be less data hungry. For example, Windows Update will not automatically download updates in the background, even if you have Auto Updates enabled (as you should). There’s no exception to this: If Microsoft feels that a security update is particularly important, it will enable the downloading of that fix regardless of the connection type.
And just in case it’s not clear why this ability to configure a connection as metered is important, consider this example: In the writing of this book, your authors of course spent a lot of time testing things–a process that involves reinstalling Windows 8 again and again and reconfiguring the OS from scratch to ensure that the behaviors we see and describe aren’t colored by other user or application configurations. While doing that for this chapter, the process of updating the OS and the bundled Metro‑style apps (through Windows Store) consumed an entire 250 MB monthly cellular allotment in about half an hour. The ability to configure a metered connection isn’t just useful, it’s necessary.
• Forget/Remember this network: Cellular data networks are configured to be remembered by default. If you’d like to forget the network for some reason, you can do so.
• View connection properties: Choosing this option displays an old‑school desktop‑type configuration window, as it does for wireless networks. However, there is one useful option in this window when used with a cellular data connection: You can enable a PIN for the PC or device’s SIM card to help protect against theft.
Comparing this list to that of a wireless network, you may have noticed that the Turn sharing on or off option is unavailable. This makes sense since a cellular data connection, by definition, cannot connect you to your local network. It is instead used to connect to the Internet directly and thus will always be public.
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