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How to Check if Something Is Downloading in the Background in Windows 10

If you’re connected to the internet and want to check if something is being downloaded in the background, the first step is to rule out the obvious.

Depending on what browser you’re using, see if it’s fetching anything online. If it is, pause or stop/cancel the download. If not, it’s time to get a little bit more investigative in our approach.

Checking Background Network Usage

Part of being connected to the internet means there is constant data exchange between the applications in your computer and the online world. This isn’t necessarily true only in the instance when you’re actually browsing or downloading, but even if you aren’t, there is always some activity (critical or non-critical) taking place.

To evaluate your applications’ live network activity, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Open Windows 10 Resource Monitor by pressing the Windows Key + R, typing “resmon” (without the quotes) in the resulting pop-up, and pressing enter (or hitting the OK button).

opening windows 10 resource monitor via the run command
As shown, type resmon, and press enter in the Windows 10 run command pop-up.

Step 2: Next, expand the “network activity” tab by clicking on the drop-down arrow, and sort the by ‘Receive (B/sec) column,’ descending, to see which applications have higher usage.

resource monitor network activity
Sorting the list by Receive (B/sec) will allow you to quickly look at applications that are using up the most bandwidth.

Checking Overall Data Usage in Windows 10

What we learned above lets you glimpse at the live data; however, if you want to know about overall data usage, Windows 10 has a system setting where it stores such information.

To get there:

Step 1: Search for “data usage overview” in your start menu, and open the setting by the same name.

opening data usage overview in Windows 10
As demonstrated, search for “data usage overview” as step 1.

Step 2: When you open this setting, you’ll notice a list of the applications arranged by network data usage (descending).

Windows 10 data usage overview
Windows 10 data usage overview.

Scroll your list to see which applications are capturing how much network data. If you see something out of turn, or unexpected, investigate more, or perhaps uninstall and reinstall the application. Alternatively, if you want to limit your data, check out Windows’ Data Limit.

Stopping Background Applications

A secondary approach to uninstalling applications is that you can also stop some of the background processes you think are hogging your network, by going to the Task Manager’s Processes tab.

In there, you’d see a section for “Background Processes” that lists out the processes, as the name suggests, running in the background. From that list, select the one you don’t want running anymore, then right-click on it, and eventually, select “End Task.”

windows 10 task manager processes tab
Right-click on the process you don’t want to be running, and then select “End task.”

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Conclusion

In essence, if you need to look and stop other services and applications that are eating away at your network data, you’d have to use the combination of the resource monitor and then the task manager to end such processes.

Although, as advised, the first & foremost step is to rule out the obvious by ensuring that your browser isn’t downloading anything in the background — especially something you are not expecting.