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High JetPack data usage with W7 Browsers

Posted on 2014-03-03
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Last Modified: 2014-11-12
When my HP i5 Pavilion DV6 W7 Home Premium X64 is wirelessly connected with my Verizon JetPack, the data usage is out of proportion to the tasks I perform.  For example, one time I started at 3.7mb and quickly reached 4.0mb in 1 hour by using only email and Google Calendar.  Another time the data usage jumped from 6.0mb to 6.4mb while the computer was idle because I inadvertently left my JetPack in the “on” state for 1.5 hours.  

During my multiple test periods I used the computer only for Outlook and Google Chrome calendar.  WRT Outlook, I received very few and I sent emails – some with non-graphic 2-3 page text only Word Document attachments.  I used Chrome Calendar moderately.  I did not surf the internet, use google news/etc., play/watch/listen to games/music/video/YouTube/photos/surf on the net or the computer.  I strictly limited these hour long sessions to basic email/calendar functions.  I checked the Windows Task Manager and saw all acceptable running processes.

Are there running processes in FF that are transmitting data in the background?  I use a number of add-ons.  Why is my data usage out of proportion to the tasks I perform?
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Question by:sappledo
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marsilies earned 400 total points
ID: 39903315
Did you mean GB? because using only 0.3MB in one hour is pretty darn good.

It's possible that Windows and other programs (Adobe Reader, Chrome, Flash, Java, etc.) are downloading updates in the background. This normally isn't a problem, but can be when connected to mobile broadband with a data cap.

You can also try using Cucusoft Net Guard to monitor the programs using internet access. It's freeware, although you have to provide an email address to register it:
http://www.cucusoft.com/netguard.aspx
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by:lherrou
ID: 39903320
sappledo,

At a guess, I'd say background downloads of software updates. Whenever your computer is connected to the internet and idle (and idle just means downtime between processor cycles, not necessarily just sitting there by itself), it checks what OS updates are available, and pre-loads them for installation (including automatic updates at times, with forced reboot), as well as updates of other installed software.

I've run into this when I have had to travel - if you think it's bad via JetPack, imagine over a SatPhone.

Background updates are managed by the Background Intelligent Transfer Service . You can stop that service, but remember that to protect yourself from nasties, you do need those updates.

Cheers,
LHerrou
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by:marsilies
ID: 39903353
Note that BITS is only for Windows/Microsoft Update, and thus only affects Microsoft software. Also, instead of killing the service, it'd be better to change the Windows Update settings. Choosing "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them" would keep you aware of new updates, while allowing you to wait to download them until you're on home/office network instead of the Jetpack:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/change-windows-update-installation-notification#1TC=windows-7

Other programs have similar settings for their updaters.

Adobe Reader:
http://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/kb/reader-acrobat-updater-settings.html

Flash:
http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/flash-player-background-updates.html

Java:
http://java.com/en/download/help/java_update.xml#notify


Chrome doesn't really have an option to only notify you of updates, it's set to just automatically download and update. Also, check any other programs you have installed to see if they have auto-update features that can be changed.
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by:lherrou
ID: 39903383
BITS is exposed by an API, and therefore is used by other software makers to handle background updates as well, so choosing "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them" will not necessarily stop non-Windows updates, nor will it stop updates that Microsoft deems critical enough to force a re-boot, in the Home versions of Windows 7. In Win 7 Pro, it's possible to manage automatic downloads through a Group Policy, although that's not recommended practice.
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by:marsilies
ID: 39903473
@lherrou You're right that some 3rd party programs use BITS. However, it's a very small list, and most of them aren't even using it for background updates:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_Intelligent_Transfer_Service#List_of_non-Microsoft_applications_that_use_BITS

I still think configuring the update settings for the OS and individual programs is better than disabling BITS.


As for Windows Update forcing updates, the only "required" updates that still download and install with the "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them" option are updates for Windows Update itself. See here:
http://update.microsoft.com/windowsupdate/v6/vistaprivacy.aspx?ln=en-us
Required Updates
If you turn on the Update Services, in order for them to properly function some software components on your system that make up or are directly related to the Update Services will need to be updated from time to time. These updates must be performed before the service can check for, download, or install other updates. These required updates fix errors, provide ongoing improvements, and maintain compatibility with the Microsoft servers that support the service. If the Update Services are turned off, you will not receive these updates.

It makes sense that the Windows Update program itself would have to stay up to date, and these updates should be fairly small. It doesn't install any "forced reboot" updates automatically with that option checked. There are reports from 2009 of a few people getting automatic updates when they chose otherwise, but it appears to have been a bug, not an intended feature, and I can't find more current evidence of it still occurring.
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/are-windows-stealth-updates-back-again/4783
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by:lherrou
ID: 39903573
sappledo,

Regardless of the philosophical differences between Marsilies and I, the bottom line is that we agree that almost certainly this data usage is due to background data transfer due to updates. Controlling those updates is a pain in the a$$, any way you look at it, but is probably necessary to limiting your pain when you're on the Jetpack. The other thing to keep in mind is when you are on a regular network, wired or wireless, you want to actively get as many of those updates done as possible .

Finally, keep in mind that desired, user-installed software may be doing the updates. But, there are trojans and other nasties (malware) that also do background data transfer. A good security scan is ALWAYS in order when you suspect data activity going on that should not be.

This article discussing Malware detection and removal, and is a good place to start in checking and fixing any nasties you may have on board.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Anti_Spyware/A_6650-Malware-Fighting-Best-Practices.html
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by:Darr247
ID: 39905164
Besides WindowsUpdate there's also Security Essentials, and any malware scanner you might have such as MalwareBytes Anti-Malware, or other 3rd-party anti-virus and malware scanners, which all typically fetch definition updates daily (if not hourly).

TCPView might help you see when background connections are being made.
When you're running it, go into Options and UNcheck the 'Show Unconnected Endpoints' line, that way it won't show you ALL ports; just the ports in use. e.g.TCPView - Show Unconnected Endpoints (click for larger)Note in the left-most column it shows the name of the process that's making the network connection.
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by:sappledo
ID: 39905192
Sorry for the delay.  The feedback is awesome.  Many have suggested that programs were updating in the background.  Possible to probable.  I've used CuCusoft per Marsilies and have discovered there isn't much updating going on.  It appears that idwutil_600 is using a majority of my recv and send processing.  This is a program, I believe, for IDrive.  I think (and I'm going to check right now) I have a setting on it to do mirroring of my drive or some thing like that.  If this is the case, I'm going to turn it off.  I'll get back to you real soon.

Steve
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by:sappledo
ID: 39905236
Cucusoft's netguard enabled me to determined that idwutil_600.exe was running constantly.  This is a program used by IDrive.  IDrive is used for my on-line backup when I manually execute it AND, at one time was set to be used for my continuous mirroring.  I forgot it was still turned on.  it didn't matter to me that it was turned on when I was at home or at work via the free WiFi or ethernet.

After the JetPack purchase IDrive's Continuous Data Protection (CDP) ran up my data usage.  Thanks to cucosoft, I now know it is the culprit.

I turned off the IDrive's CDP feature.  Thanks marsilies for cucusoft referral.  I'm sure the other programs (which were mentioned later by others) would have done the same thing but marsilies came through first.

I will work normally on the computer via the JetPack instead of via the ethernet for the next two hours.  It is now about 9pm EST.  If all is good, I will close this out around 11pm.  I'll keep you informed.
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Author Closing Comment

by:sappledo
ID: 39905351
Problem solved.  Marsilies referral to Cucusoft's Net Guard hit the path to the right direction.  This is exactly what I needed.  My usage dropped significantly.  Thanks!

Now if I could only know if I can/should have simultaneous virus/malware programs (I have N360 now)?  Any links?
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