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How to limit reservable bandwidth in Windows 10 to increase download speeds

By default, Microsoft reserves the right to limit network bandwidth by as much as 80% to accommodate system activities. You have the power to change this setting, if you need to.

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Whether it is through Ethernet or over Wi-Fi, download and upload speeds are vitally important to the overall performance of your Windows 10 PC. The sooner you can pull down a large file from the cloud to start work on it, the more productive you will be. Therefore, any tweak you can make to squeeze more performance out of your network communications has got make your life better—right?

SEE: 69 Excel tips every user should master (TechRepublic) 

By default, as part of its quality assurance package, Microsoft Windows 10 reserves the right to limit network bandwidth by as much as 80% to accommodate system activities such as security updates and OS license checks. Under normal use, you will likely not even notice, but when downloading large files, the limit may kick in and constrict your PC’s network performance. There are two ways to tweak the setting.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to limit or disable the default setting that allows Windows 10 to reserve your network bandwidth for its own purposes.

SEE: Checklist: Securing Windows 10 systems (TechRepublic Premium)

How to limit reservable bandwidth to increase download speeds in Windows 10

Disclaimer: Editing the Windows Registry file is a serious undertaking. A corrupted Windows Registry file could render your computer inoperable, requiring a reinstallation of the Windows 10 operating system and potential loss of data. Back up the Windows 10 Registry file and create a valid restore point before you proceed. This disclaimer also applies to changes made with the Group Policy Editor.

How to use the Group Policy Editor

For users of Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, the most effective way to change the default settings for reservable bandwidth is through the Group Policy Editor. Type “group policy” into the desktop search box and select the appropriate app (gpedit.msc) from the results. Navigate to this entry (Figure A) in the editor using the left-hand navigation bar:

Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | Network | QoS Packet Scheduler

Figure A

a-limit-reservable-bandwidth-win10.jpg

In the right-hand pane, select the entry labeled Limit Reservable Bandwidth and double-click it to reveal the settings screen, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

b-limit-reservable-bandwidth-win10.jpg

Click the Enabled button and change the default value of 80 to a smaller percentage or to zero if you prefer to turn it off. Note, clicking the Disabled button just changes it back to the default, so that will not work. Click Apply then OK to complete the process and then exit the editor.

How to use the Registry Editor

For users of Windows 10 Home, changing the default setting for reservable bandwidth requires an edit of the Windows Registry File. Type “regedit” into the desktop search box and select the appropriate item (regedit.msc) in the results. Using the left-hand windowpane, navigate to this specific key, as shown in Figure C:

ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindowsPsched

Figure C

c-limit-reservable-bandwidth-win10.jpg

In the right-hand windowpane, select and then double-click the entry labeled: NonBestEffortLimit and click the decimal radio button, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

d-limit-reservable-bandwidth-win10.jpg

Now, you can change the reservable bandwidth percentage to whatever setting you’d like. Again, choosing a setting of zero will disable the feature completely. Click OK to complete the process then exit Regedit.

An explanation and a warning

Keep in mind that Microsoft is not looking to reserve network bandwidth out of spite. This feature plays an integral part in Microsoft’s Quality of Service (QoS) package. Zero-day security patches, for example, may need to use that bandwidth, regardless of the inconvenience it may cause, to keep your system safe from would-be malicious hackers. So, this is not a setting you should make changes to on a whim.

If your productivity is dependent on high-performance network communications, then turning off or limiting reservable bandwidth may make sense. However, if you are at home using your laptop to surf websites and check social media, then leaving the default setting as is, is probably not going to impact your day-to-day activity.

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