Reports Emerge of Windows 10 Mobile Abusing Cell Data

Posted on January 26, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows Phones with 0

Reports Emerge of Windows 10 Mobile Abusing Cell Data

A number of readers are reporting that Windows 10 Mobile is using cell data even when Wi-Fi is available and causing them to exceed their monthly limits. Microsoft is aware of these reports and has provided a quick workaround.

To be clear, this story is emerging, and it’s not yet clear where the blame lies. But I feel like I should warn anyone using Windows 10 Mobile just in case, so you can take steps to minimize your data usage, especially over cellular data. It doesn’t appear related to the Insider Program. (Meaning it also impacts those not on Insider.)

For me, this is issue is a bit clear-cut because I’ve been comparing the Google Nexus 6P to the Apple iPhone 6S Plus this past month, and that means that my Windows 10 Mobile-based Lumia 950 has been only used at home, where there is Wi-Fi access. Despite that, the handset has used almost 1 GB of cellular data over this billing period. And I can’t explain that.

Because I’m an AT&T user, I can see that the exact data usage for the Lumia 950 and other handsets I use on the network. I can also examine the 950’s data usage in Data Usage (Settings, Network & Wireless, Data Usage), which provides usage for both cellular and Wi-Fi. And I’ve used almost 1 GB of cell data somehow. The biggest culprit? The vaguely-named “System.” (Which I assume includes OS updates, but it’s unclear.)

A non-scientific poll on Twitter reveals similar results for many, though I of course did hear from some on Twitter who have experienced nothing unusual. (Remember: Most people do of course use wireless data regularly.)

A few people pointed me to a Reddit forum related to this issue. There, a Microsoft employee acknowledges the problem and offers some advice.

The Data team is actively investigating your reports of this issue – thanks for bringing it to my attention … As some users already noted, turning off app backup and messaging sync should help reduce the data usage you’re seeing, but if it doesn’t please let us know.

You can turn off app backup in Backup: Settings, Update & Security, Backup, “More options.” Here, you can disable automatic backups across the board, or just select the apps you don’t want to backup anymore.


You turn off Messaging sync by opening the Messaging app, choosing More (“…”) in the menu at the bottom and then Settings. In Settings, change “Sync messages between devices” to Off.


I’ll report back when I know more.


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