Personal data traffic shaping

Yesterday I complained about the fact that while I was riding a high speed train which, like all trains, offers a wifi connection that’s wobbly at most, I switched to my phone hotspot to take advantage of the speed and stability of an LTE connection; in less than 1 hour, my computer had eaten over 4GB of data traffic trying to download an update to iMovie (a bloated product I rarely use).

Some of my friends suggested disabling automatic downloads, others suggested the tweaking the preferences on the iTunes download page, prompting a more detailed situation analysis.

  • it’s not about iTunes. I buy nothing on iTunes (=Absolute Evil). My music is all from physical CDs I own, ripped by myself and backed up twice to avoid losing it (again). Once ripped, I let iTunes eat the MP3 files to build the crazy obscure database it needs to synch with my iPods. I don’t buy/download movies, books, podcasts. All of my automatic downloads are caused by the App Store or by OS X itself.
  • When connected to a phone hotspot, there is not much in terms of traffic profiling options: as far as the computer is concerned, the hotspot is sensed just like any other wifi without any provision when there is a metered pipe downhill.

Solutions I am about to explore (and answers):

  1. is there a more intelligent hotspot app that allows for traffic shaping, replacing the Lollipop native function (nothing but a on/off switch)? Perusal of the Google Play Store didn’t yield any obvious candidates
  2. is there a way to turn off automatic update for rarely used apps? No
  3. should I get rid of iMovie altogether, since it is way too bulky for a MBA? Done, but sadly I was mistaken: fully 2 out of the 4 GB were due to an OS X update

Other ideas are welcome

UPDATE 28/4: I found an informative article on How To Geek: I have now installed Onavo Counter and will be playing with it for a while to see if it provides any relief. However looking at the standard monitoring panel I do not see any particularly voracious data hog, as most of the consumption is due to the Hotspot function.

UPDATE 29/4: a number of people suggested un-checking “Automatic download of updates in the background” in the System Preferences panel. Thanks for suggesting the obvious (:-D) but I was looking for something a little more granular. I do believe auto update is a good and useful function, but I wish I’d be able to restrict its use when on metered (direct or indirect).


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