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With assorted iPhones, iPads and Macs a wi-fi connection has become a standard criteria for selecting houses and apartments when my wife and I go on holiday. We haven’t had any problems with this until a recent holiday in Australia. Because of problems with their broadband provider the owners of one place we rented had opted to use a pocket hotspot rather than a conventional router, and thus arose the issue of data caps. They warned us about this and we said “no problem, we only need it for some web browsing and email”.

We blew through 5gb in not much more than a day.

I started looking at what was happening and quickly realised that the majority of data was going up not down. We added some credit, I paused Dropbox and Crashplan, which I had identified as the main culprits, and quit Sophos AV, which also likes to upload a lot of data as part of the on-demand scanning option.

Next night we ran out of data again. During the night Crashplan had passed the 24 hour pause, the maximum that the interface allows, and started up again. We added more credit and I quit Crashplan completely, or so I thought.

The following morning we were out of credit again. Poking around in Activity Monitor I realised that Crashplan was still running. Some research on the internet revealed that Crashplan is actually TWO programmes: an interface and the backup engine itself. I had only quit the interface. Fortunately I also found a way to pause the backup programme for custom periods and thus ensured that it remained asleep until we got home.

So, what are the lessons?

  • Know your devices & what software is running
  • Check usage before you leave
  • Learn how to switch data-hungry software off
  • Be very cautious about photos, most of the traffic was a result of moving images to my laptop