How to force Windows to use 100% of your network bandwidth [How-To Guide]

The speed of your Internet connection largely depends on external factors you cannot control. However, sometimes there are software elements that influence your connection speed. Once such factor is Windows reserving 20% of your network bandwidth for special QoS (Quality of Service), essentially capping you at using 80% of your total available bandwidth. This guide shows you how to remove this limitation and force Windows to use 100% of your network bandwidth.

Food For Thought

Before you jump on the bandwidth bandwagon, there are a few things to consider.

Firstly, the 20% reserved bandwidth is for QoS traffic. This traffic includes stuff like streaming videos, Windows Update, VoIP, etc. — anything that makes use of the QoS Packet Scheduler. Windows has this reserved bandwidth to ensure a smooth experience with QoS traffic because this type of traffic typically needs a high amount of reliable bandwidth. If you go ahead and disable this reserved bandwidth, you may experience issues with QoS tasks.

Secondly, 20% of your bandwidth is reserved only when QoS tasks are running. When no QoS task is running, by default you have access to 100% of your bandwidth. So by going forward with removing the 20% reserve, essentially you wouldn’t be recovering all 20% of your bandwidth; you would be recovering the piece of the 20% that is wasted and unused when a QoS task is running.

Thirdly, having access to 100% of your bandwidth does not ensure faster connection speeds. First of all, as I mention in my second point above, you already have access to 100% of your bandwidth when no QoS task is running; as such, if you rarely run QoS tasks, manually removing the 20% reserve will do much of nothing because you already typically have all 100%. More importantly, however, if you aren’t using all 80% of your bandwidth with the 20% reserve, then removing the 20% reserve will do nothing — you will just have extra bandwidth you are not using. I am not saying removing the reserve will do absolutely nothing; I am saying keep your expectations in check.

Take a few minutes and think about the three points I mention above. Personally speaking I leave the 20% reserve as-is because I see no major advantages of removing it. However, if you insist on recovering that 20% reserve, continue reading to learn how.

How to force Windows to use 100% of your network bandwidth

Making Windows use 100% of your network bandwidth can be done one of two ways. You can change a setting in Windows’ Group Policy Object Editor or you can make a simple registry tweak. Group Policy Object Editor is available in only some versions of Windows (Vista Business and higher and Windows 7 Pro and higher); the registry tweak works on all editions of Windows XP, Vista, and Win7. As such, this guide describes how to remove the 20% reserve using the registry tweak.

To remove the 20% bandwidth reserve in Windows, do the following:

  • Press Win + R on your keyboard, type regedit.exe in the Run box that pops up, and hit OK:

  • Once you hit OK the registry editor will open. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows folder:

  • Right-click on the Windows folder, go to New, click on Key, and name the new folder that is created Psched:

  • Click (single left-click) on the new Pshed folder you just created.
  • Right-click in the right-pane (the white space), go to New, click on DWORD (32-bit) Value, and name the registry entry that was created NonBestEffortLimit:

  • Right-click the NonBestEffortLimit key you just created and select Modify:

  • At the window that pops up make sure the Value data is 0 and and the base is Decimal:

Take note instead of 0 you can put whatever number you want. The number in the Value data box corresponds to the percentage of your bandwidth you want to reserve for QoS traffic. So, for example, if I wanted to keep the QoS traffic reserve but wanted make the reserve 10% instead of 20%, I would enter 10 in the Value data box.

Hit OK when ready.

  • Restart your computer.
  • Done.

How To Restore The 20% Reserve

If at a later date you decide you no longer like removing/modifying the 20% reserve, you can simply edit the NonBestEffortLimit key in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Psched and enter 20 in the Value data box to restore the reserve back to its default 20%; or you can delete the whole Psched folder, which makes it like you never modified the reserve in the first place (it goes back to its default 20%). Then restart your computer and you are good to go.

Conclusion

At this point I would typically make a snide comment about how you can now commit 100% of your bandwidth to downloading… stuff… but that would be insensitive considering the mega events that have transpired this past week. Instead I’ll finish off this post with a signature, Enjoy!

[via Speed Up PC | Thanks buckoooo, alalata | Image credit: Shaymus22]

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21 comments

  1. adi

    after i try the tweak, for regedit, make Pshed my speed slowing down 10KBps, why this happen? then i’ve restore the regedit to before tweak change and my speed not coming back to normal still slowing down about 10KBps.. help me?

  2. sconr002

    Thank you Ashraf I have been looking for this solution for a couple hours now, since Windows 8 Core/Home does not come with the Snap-In Extensions in the Microsoft Management Console. I personally think this is an awesome tweak, and it kind of seems like most of these comments are people worried about removing a Quality of Service Reserve…weird, Well I did this during a 1.0 GB download and my download went from approximately 120 KB/sec up to approximately 400 KB/sec. So Thanks again for the nice write-up! Now for everyone else, unless you still have dial-up or are doing 5 VoIPs at once, you will only see increase bandwidth from doing this. Microsoft solely wanted the reserve for All of their Updates back in 2002 when 56k modems were not rare.

  3. CaptainTweek

    For those of you who are concerned with gaining faster speeds for your applications don’t turn down the reserved QoS bandwidth.
    Instead, give reserved QoS a little more and create a QoS policy for your applications or even web browser add-ons. Online games, popular social networking sites that use all sorts of apps and add-ons, skipe, voip, web chat, anything that uses your connection can have a QoS policy made for it. Now if your thinking this won’t speed up your connection or give you more bandwidth, your right. As mentioned in the original post you only have the bandwidth your ISP provides you and when no QoS aplications are running you have 100% of your bandwidth. The idea here is to let other programs into the elite members only QoS club by giving them a policy. Now a word of caution. Removing QoS polices from the default windows applications or any other applications that have it by default will, I repeat WILL cause you problems so don’t mess with them! Also don’t go nuts creating policies for every app on your system or trying to give your whole browser a policy, it will do one or both of two things. 1. Not a damn thing and piss you off. (and or) 2. bring all your upload and download speeds to crawling pace that would make dial up from 1994 seem amazingly fast, and piss you off. Consider this, chances are most applications your wanting to perform better are being hindered by a lack of memory, processor speed, video or audio hardware limitations, out of date drivers, too many unnecessary background tasks or services running, other computers on your network, using wireless where the distance is over 20ft and there are things like walls, furniture, other electronics that use radio signal, people who claim to “know computers” and have 50 million different antimalware real-time protection agents and more then one antivirus program. Also cats. Cats by the way don’t naturally hinder your computer or it’s applications unless however you anger or ignore kitty, or if it’s just generally a kitty that runs amok wreaking havoc on everything in your home.

  4. spredo

    @Ashraf:
    Thank you for an interesting solution.
    Based on your own advice, I’ll keep away from messing with my computer this time, but I may try it later on.
    So what I am actually saying “thank you” for is the “food for thought”-section. I have messed up (and repaired) my computer more times than i am comfortable counting, but I think this is the FIRST time I have seen a non-biased analysis of the proposed action in the same post as the description of “how to…”.

    I am not totally computer illiterate, and I’ll remember what you just taught me. If I need it in the future. Thank you.

  5. Rob (Down Under)

    @jumbi:
    Thanks for link.
    The author must think that the usage is ‘idiot proof’
    This idiot wouldn’t mind a wee link to a users guide.
    (I have browsed the Help file)

    Thanks,
    Rob
    PS I network (just via a router) a few PCs, and some die, and get replaced by other PCs.
    I have come up against the Connections Limit (which blocks you from File Sharing), a couple of times, and have Googled/hacked/Pulled Hair/prayed and manged to get them going.
    His Help file shows a wee dialog for investigating/fixing this problem.
    Is that his dialog, or one that XP has available ?
    How do you get to it ?

  6. Giovanni

    Alternative and easier method:

    1) Go to RUN and type gpedit.msc it will open a dialog box.
    2) Go to Local computer policy > computer configuration > administrative templates > network > Qos Packet Scheduler.
    3) On the right hand side you will find Limit Reservable Bandwith open it.
    4) Enable it and set the percentage to zero.
    5) And u have your 100% bandwidth.

    I applied this tweak last week and honestly didn’t notice any remarkable improvement to the speed of my connection.

    Maybe this trick works better on high speed broadband connections?? Who knows…

  7. Frank

    @Locutus:
    Well, Locotus,
    as long as that bleeding Windows Update (which is BY FAR the least priorized application using my internet – it doesn’t matter if that update is downloaded 30 min earlier or not) sucks up my bandwith I am happy to disable that feature.

    Cheers, Franky

  8. gjohnson

    Well I very much appreciate this item because I took advice from another site recently & changed the setting – this explanation has enabled me to restore the setting to the default.
    Thanks Ashraf.

  9. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Samuel: Good idea. Done.

    @david roper: I’m with you on that one. I don’t do this tweak myself.

    @Locutus: This is a quote from the above article:

    Secondly, 20% of your bandwidth is reserved only when QoS tasks are running. When no QoS task is running, by default you have access to 100% of your bandwidth. […]

    And AFAIK as I know once a QoS task requests it, is becomes a reserve but I may be wrong.

  10. Locutus

    @Ashraf: But it’s not “reserved” for it. It’s given priority, sure, but if there’s no QoS apps (or if they aren’t using the full 20%) then the other apps can still use that. It’s really a recipe for disaster when you do this, IMHO.

  11. david roper

    What about this adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ?

    I have gotten into more trouble in my life tweaking and untweaking settings than I care to remember.

    Just me – saying.

  12. Locutus

    http://lifehacker.com/5033518/debunking-common-windows-performance-tweaking-myths

    Disabling QoS to Free Up 20% of Bandwidth
    This tip made the rounds with people believing that Microsoft always allocates 20% of your bandwidth for Windows Update. According to the instructions, you were supposed to disable QoS in order to free up bandwidth. Unfortunately this tip was not only wrong, but disabling QoS will cause problems with applications that rely on it, like some streaming media or VoIP applications. Rather than taking my word for it, you can read the official Microsoft response: “There have been claims in various published technical articles and newsgroup postings that Windows XP always reserves 20 percent of the available bandwidth for QoS. These claims are incorrect… One hundred percent of the network bandwidth is available to be shared by all programs unless a program specifically requests priority bandwidth.”

    This isn’t really a very good tip at all.