How to reduce data usage when travelling with your laptop


If you are travelling with your laptop (or iPhone) and your data is limited, here are  a few simple ways to make sure you don’t use too much data.

I’m on holidays so I’ve tethered my laptop to my iPhone for internet access.  Last time I did this I used up my entire month’s iPhone data allowance in under a day!  A security update was released while I was away and my laptop downloaded it. So this time I made sure I turned off all the non-essential data hungry applications that I could think of. Here’s a summary of the main ways to reduce internet data use:

1. Disable all software updates.

App store

Apple will try to update any Applications on your computer when a new version is released, plus there are regular System Updates from Apple for OS X. These can gobble up internet bandwidth. Here’s how to disable them when you are travelling. Go to System Preferences, then App Store. You’ll see a window like this. Uncheck all software updates.

Turn off all Software Updates
Turn off all Software Updates

Don’t forget to turn these on again when you finish travelling as there are important security updates you don’t want to miss. If you want to be cautious,  you can leave the ‘Install system data files and security updates’ checked, but be warned, this could result in some huge downloads.


2. Turn of iPhoto Stream

It’s possible you have iPhoto syncing turned on.  This syncs photos across all your computers and iOS devices. To turn this off, go to ‘System Preferences’ then ‘Internet Accounts’ and for each internet account make sure you have iPhoto iCloud sync turned off.

Turn off iPhoto syncing
Turn off iPhoto syncing



3. Pause dropbox.

If you don’t need access to any new dropbox files, you can pause syncing of dropbox. This will keep all your dropbox files that are on your laptop. But it won’t download or upload any new changes or files until you unease the syncing again.

To do this go to the dropbox icon in your menu bar, click on the settings icon (the cog) and select ‘Pause Syncing’.

Pause Dropbox
Pause Dropbox

If you do need to use dropbox when travelling, make sure you turn on your laptop and do a sync just before you leave home. This will make sure your dropbox is up to date.


4. Turn off automatic downloading of  email attachments.

You can also turn off automatic  downloading of email attachments. This means when you open an email, it won’t download the attachment unless you click on it.

email attachments



These four steps should keep data usage to a minimum. If there’s anything I’ve forgotten let me know. And don’t forget to turn it all on again when you get back home!



3 responses to “How to reduce data usage when travelling with your laptop”

  1. Dear Wayne,
    I’m sorry to write here but the webside for slidingdoor theme doesn’t seem to be recently updated.
    I used your theme on my blog since its creation in 2012 and I love it. But I had to change it because nowadays more and more people use their smartphones instead of laptops, everybody has different screen resolution and so on – so, in two words a theme is better to be with responsive layout. But as soon as I changed yours to a new one I started to recieve messages from my readers that the old one (yours) is better =)
    So, I just wanna ask if there is any chance that you are thinking about update sliding door and make it responsive to screen resolution?


    1. There is a wordpress plugin called wp-mobile that shows a responsive theme for mobile devices. It’s pretty good. The sliders still work for desktop but the mobile theme is displayed for mobile devices.

  2. zolar1

    For laptops, use firefox or firefox type browser.

    Then get a few addons

    Adblock/adblock/adblock edge


    Do about:config in address line and click I’ll be careful I promise

    In the new search line under the address bar type in 3 letters geo

    You will see geo.enabled. double click that to make it FALSE.

    Bottom one is google spyware.

    says google.wifi.uri

    double click that and DELETE the contents.

    Google is in league with mozilla and by the built i spyware in firefox, it checks for all available wifi signals where you are and constantly updates them using bandwidth without paying for it.

    Don’t have more than one tab open at a time.

    And check your addons to ensure that all updates are also turned off or disabled.

    popups, streamng ads, loads of tracking cookies are all taxing your data.

    I think firefox is available for Mac’s.

    Stay away from all other browsers as there is little way for you to know what they are doing and even less about how to control them.

    If you have a firewall like zonealarm you can close things that run behind your back connection-wise.

    Linux uses complicated iptables and is NOT user friendly for anything. Mac is very similar.

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