Important - Windows Spotlight may be taking up your bandwidth

Bandwidth consumption from Windows Spotlight

For the last few days, a number of our customers have been experiencing far slower Internet performance than they should have been, with low speeds reported even for schools using ultrafast connections. We spent some time looking into our customers’ problem which, concerningly, turned out to be a result of a default setting on Windows 10 PCs.

If you’re using Windows 10, you’ll have seen Windows Spotlight in action - it’s the program that displays a range of background images on the lock screen. It turns out that Spotlight frequently takes up a large amount of bandwidth downloading the next image to display (usually between 5 and 10 Mbps - we’ve seen one computer use a staggering 20 Mbps) on every computer it runs on.

As you can imagine, even for those using our ultrafast connections, the bandwidth that Spotlight eats up can quickly become a problem. We’ve put together this post to let you know what’s going on, and show you how you can turn off Spotlight and avoid a major bandwidth drain.

Turning off Windows Spotlight

If there are multiple computers on your network, or if you have a low bandwidth cap (more of a problem outside of the UK, but still worth considering), then we’d absolutely advise turning off Spotlight. It’s probably worth doing in pretty much all situations, but that’s more of a personal choice.

Fortunately, turning off Spotlight is easy for administrators. On a local machine, just click through Settings, Personalisation, and into Lock Screen. Click on the Background box, and you’ll be able to choose a different background, turning off Spotlight.

If there’s a lot of PCs on your network, there’s a few more efficient solutions - the Microsoft Technet page for Spotlight demonstrates how to turn the program off for a few different circumstances.

Exa Customers using Spotlight

Right now, our tech team are checking through SurfProtect filtering logs to see how many of our customers are having their bandwidth affected by Spotlight. We hopefully should be able to get in touch with everyone using the program in the near future, letting you know about the issues we’ve discussed here.

We should have fixed the Spotlight issue for every one of our customers who has got in touch with us about it - if you want a step-by-step guide to fixing the problem, or want to talk to us about anything else, just get in touch as always at 0345 145 1234!