Thursday, July 28, 2016

Restricting data usage while tethering: TripMode

Wifi Tethering

Image courtesy

The work I do in my job demands me to do a lot of research because it is not exactly released to what I had been doing in Japan. I had a write an application in Free Pascal using Lazarus IDE and now I am doing development of web application using ReactJS. These are RAD projects so it is not feasible to take a long time and read up on these things in a book.

So I use my laptop at work, tethered via the Galaxy S7 (previously the Nexus 5) and everything is great.

Except, sometimes something eats up several hundred megabytes of my data!

Initially, it was the Windows Update that was doing this. I was on the Fast level of Windows Insider program (the MacBook Air is my test PC) and it downloaded almost a gigabyte of data without me knowing. After I became aware of it, I checked the “Defer Updates” option in Windows Update.

Defer updates

But then I found out you could specify a hotspot as a Metered one, so that Windows would download updates when connected via it.

Metered network

But still, there are other applications that I have installed in the PC that ignore this. And this was no different in OSX as well. They would go about downloading their updates freely. So I wanted to know if there was a better way to restrict the data usage.

I came across a software called TripMode that seemed to do exactly what I needed. It was not a free software (USD 7.99 per license) and the article where I read about it said it was only available for OSX. When I went into their website, I saw that they had a Windows version out as well. (They have had the Windows version since January 2016)

I asked on twitter whether I needed to buy two separate licenses for Windows and OSX if I was installing them on the same PC. They said I had to but they also said I could buy the bundle so that it would save me USD 4.00. I also confirmed that I could restrict network use by the system services such as Cortana and Windows Update. They said it was supported.

Since I switched from a 10GB per month plan to a 7GB per month plan, I have to be really watchful about the data usage. If I go beyond my 7GB limit, it will automatically add 1GB each at $10 per GB. There was no way to disable this happening automatically. (I know it should be given to the user.)

So I decided to buy TripMode. I bought two licenses, one for Windows and one for OSX. I got an email each for each license with the license code and the place to download it. I installed it on both OSes and activated without issue. But I only got to test it on Windows. And this is on Windows 10 version 1607 (build 14393.5) which probably will be same as the anniversary update scheduled for 2nd of August.

TripMode - about

It works perfectly, in that it stops everything from using the internet. Chrome was automatically allowed to use data, but I can easily restrict it as well. You just click on the icon of the app on the left to toggle whether it can use data or not. Whenever a new app requests to connect to the internet, it would show up in this list as disabled.


I don’t know why the Data used and the Chrome’s usage don’t tally though. Perhaps TripMode used the deficit for itself. Every other application shown on the list have 0.0MB usage. It tries to check for updates on startup. So this could be it.

TripMode - setttings

I also use Google Chrome as for the browser and use the Data Saver extension to compress the data just like it does on the mobile version of Chrome. I wonder why it was not built into the browser. It would massively benefit on a Chrome PC. Also TripMode keeps the Chrome Update process to access the internet, so I think (I hope) that Chrome won’t try to update itself while being tethered.

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