Whether you’re trying to preserve your battery, your bandwidth, or your bottom line, there are a number of reasons you might want to limit the data usage of your PC. Here’s how to watch or curb your data usage in Windows 8 for any wifi network.

Wait!  These instructions are for Windows 8, so if you’ve updated to Windows 8.1, these instructions no longer apply.  See Monitor or Limit Data Usage in Windows 8.1 instead.

From the Settings charm, tap the connection button to display your wireless networks. Tap and hold on the current connection to receive the menu below.

the wifi context menu in Windows 8
Tap and hold (or right-click) the WiFi network name for additional options.

From here you can choose Show estimated data usage to see how much data has been used through this network. This information displays whenever you tap your wifi network in the list.

With data usage enabled, you can view or reset your usage anytime from the network name.
With data usage enabled, you can view or reset your usage anytime from the network name.

You can also choose Set as metered connection, which will reduce the amount of data that is used through this connection. Windows will not download automatic updates or automatically transfer SkyDrive uploads over a metered connection. Other apps can take advantage of this as well and do their part to use less data, such as refreshing less frequently (or only manually within the app).

If you do not see the set as metered connection option, you’ll need to sign into Windows using an administrator account to make the change. You can change your account type in the Control Panel.

Even for those of you lucky enough to have unlimited data plans can benefit from using metered connections. These are greatly useful on the road using mifi or other shared hotspots where bandwidth – and power – are at a premium.