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I almost exclusively play hardcore mode, and I much prefer it. The only downside, as I see it, is that lagging out or disconnecting may kill you (I'm fine with any other kind of death).

Now, I recently updated to Windows 10, and with that comes the fact that you cannot disable automatic updates. Now, I could totally see a situation where a download suddenly starts and causes me to lag in-game. This could apply to other online games as well.

Is there anything built into Windows 10 that prevents this from happening with online games? I could imagine they would want to disrupt the user experience as little as possible. If no, is this something I should realistically worry about, and what (if anything) can be done about it?

(I'm not interested in answers suggesting switching from Windows 10)

Edit: As said in comments, online games have different needs from other types of media, such as being more dependent on latency than bandwidth. This question was specifically intended to ask how gaming is affected by the changes presented in Windows 10, and for this particular question I'm only interested in facts about the operating system as a gaming platform, and how it directly affects my gaming experience.

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    This is a question about Windows 10, not really about gaming. – Frank Sep 1 '15 at 12:10
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about how Windows 10 works, which isn't a gaming specific problem. – Frank Sep 1 '15 at 12:19
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    I think the more important question is - will Windows 10 force restart your PC while you're fighting that super difficult elite pack, because it decided that your update is more important? – Elise Sep 1 '15 at 12:23
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    I think it's a gaming question, as it is specifically about how gameplay quality is affected by the platform the game is played on. However, I agree that it's close to the border between Super User and Arqade, as it could easily be extended to "a generic application" instead of a game. That said, games may require different standards of connectivity compared to other applications (you can't buffer a game, for instance). – Svj0hn Sep 1 '15 at 12:49
10

Honestly, Windows Update shouldn't lag your game, unless your internet connection is slow. I have a 256kB/s connection, and it doesn't seem to have any effect while playing games online.
If at all, Windows Update tries not to affect the speed of your any other connections to the internet while it's updating.

If you're really worried about Windows Update lagging up your system by downloading updates in the background, you can disable it by disabling the wuaserv service.

Note: You cannot disable it through the Control Panel or Settings App. The only way to do it is to go "under the hood".
This answer applies both to Windows 7, 8, 10 Home/Professional/Ultimate/whatever-fancy-name-they-use/Home Premium/Basic/Enterprise


  1. Open the services manager.
    Try pressing Win + R then typing services.msc
  2. Look for Windows Update (or its actual name, wuauserv) and right click on it.
  3. Select "Properties"
  4. Change "Startup Type" to Disabled in the Property dialog box.
  5. Select the "Stop" button if it is running and select "OK" to confirm your changes.
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    Useful, +1... Do you have a source for the "Windows Update tries not to affect the speed of your any other connections to the internet while it's updating." claim? I would be interested to read more about that functionality. – Svj0hn Sep 1 '15 at 12:50
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    I can tell you that Windows Update seems to use a fixed rate, but this rate is not scaled to your connection! So if you have something in the range of 5 to 20Mb/s, there might be some issues with updates. I have measured in two computers, one connected to a 1Mb/s connection and another to a 50Mb/s connection, and both of them updated at around 100kb/s. Note that 100kbps is almost 80% of 1Mb/s (remember that ISPs measure speed in megabits), so depending oun your connection, it might be quite fatal for gaming. – Kroltan Sep 1 '15 at 14:30
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    When Windows 10 decides to download some new Bluetooth drivers, it manages to use all of my 10mbit/s connection to the point that other devices on the network can't even browse websites. Since Windows 10 uses peer-to-peer update distribution by default, it is capable of dramatically impacting one's internet connection. – Jesan Fafon Sep 1 '15 at 15:19
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    256 MB/s is way more than your average person will have... @Kroltan 100 kb is about 10% of 1 Mb. If you are referring to kilobytes, please use kB. – Jacob Raihle Sep 1 '15 at 15:53
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    @Kroltan This is a matter of bytes vs. bits, not base 2 vs. base 10. And there's a big difference between 10% and 80%. – Jacob Raihle Sep 1 '15 at 16:46
5

Windows Update uses BITS (Background Internet Transfer Service). This service is designed with several goals in mind, one of which is minimizing impact to other network applications.

Background transfers are optimal in that BITS uses idle network bandwidth to transfer the files and will increase or decrease the rate at which files are transferred based on the amount of idle network bandwidth available. If a network application begins to consume more bandwidth, BITS decreases its transfer rate to preserve the user's interactive experience.

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa362708(v=vs.85).aspx

The landing page for BITS provides the link to its usage in Windows Update:

Note: BITS is most commonly used by Windows to download updates to your local system.

All that said, Windows 10 should not impact your network gaming experience.

  • Does BITS back off to avoid impacting latency, though? Most games don't use a lot of bandwidth, and are just sensitive to latency. If windows can de-prioritize BITS relative to everything else, that might help some, too. – Peter Cordes Sep 1 '15 at 20:21
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    Don't know if it can de-prioritize like you say, but I think with group policies you can restrict BITS to a certain schedule so that it does nothing during certain times of the day and/or week. – Jeremy Wiebe Sep 1 '15 at 20:34
1

If you are a bit more technically savvy then you can block inbound/outbound connections to the actual update websites:

http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com

http://*.windowsupdate.microsoft.com

https://*.windowsupdate.microsoft.com

http://*.update.microsoft.com

https://*.update.microsoft.com

http://*.windowsupdate.com

http://download.windowsupdate.com

http://download.microsoft.com

http://*.download.windowsupdate.com

http://wustat.windows.com

http://ntservicepack.microsoft.com

http://stats.microsoft.com

https://stats.microsoft.com

^ Source

You should be able to configure this within your OS but if not then the router-level would work just as well or maybe better.

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    Routing all these domains to 127.0.0.1 in the hosts file used to do the trick, is that still possible in Windows 10? – Mast Sep 1 '15 at 15:27
  • @Mast I do not have Windows 10 but if you wanted to try it out then it should still be viable. howtogeek.com/howto/27350/… – MonkeyZeus Sep 1 '15 at 15:52
  • I know how to do it and I don't have Windows 10 either. I'm waiting with my upgrade till I know how to prevent trouble like this from happening ^^ – Mast Sep 1 '15 at 16:30
  • @Mast I tried that. It killed all my Metro/Modern UI app traffic. (No metro app could connect to the internet without Fiddler, even with the hosts file cleared). | That didn't fix itself until I did a full reinstall. Refreshing the system doesn't seem to help. – aytimothy Sep 8 '15 at 10:26
  • @aytimothy Yes, Windows Metro apps use those same domains so you lose a lot of traffic at once. It's a hardcore solution for a hardcore problem :-) – Mast Sep 8 '15 at 10:31
0

I had the same problem. If BITS is designed not to cut into existing bandwidth, it sucks at it: I've upgraded two machines to Windows 10, and in each case Windows Update would crush the network connection (about 3 Mbps).

In the end I decided to throttle BITS using the Group Policy editor, which you can access by typing 'Edit group policy' from the Start menu. Set it to something reasonable during your typical work/gaming hours; no more problems and you still get updates.

-1

This answer covers QoS (Quality of Service) settings that most routers have. Some don't, so check if your router support QoS.

3 articles covering QoS :

  1. PcWorld
  2. lifehacker
  3. How to Geek

These settings will vary from routers to routers, so read your router manual to use QoS in a way that will provide you with the best gaming experience.

I recommend only setting the games you want as highest priority and let the router manage the rest. From there, your router will make sure the packets the games you set as highest priority will be treated before any other packets. This should let your games' latency be low even if Windows decide to update.

You could set windows update as a lower priority so that you further control the download speed of the updates but that would slow it down whenever something else use bandwidth, not just when you're gaming.

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