Think Twice Before You Let Smartphones And Tablets Tether

I'm quite surprised that pretty much the entire industry these days thinks that Wi-Fi Internet connectivity means that there is free, unlimited and ultra-fast connectivity. As a consequence many smartphones and tables are shamelessly downloading operating system updates and other things small and large without asking the user first.

A 150 MB Android update available!? No problem, there's Wi-Fi so it's downloaded by many devices without asking the user first. Now imagine you are hanging off a hotel Wi-Fi that is slow already or even paid by the megabyte. The former is still the norm rather than the exception while the later is rare these days but it still exists, which is why I would never stay in NH hotels if I can avoid it…

Even worse, you ask a friend in a café if you could tether your Wi-Fi only tablet over his phone to the Internet. He graciously agrees despite only having a contract that includes a few hundred megabytes of data a month. After all, a couple of web pages won't hurt!? Well, these probably won't but the 150 MB OS update starting automatically will. And unless you friend keeps his data counter in sight he probably never knows what hit him until a couple of days later when he hits his monthly data cap.

Therefore, think twice before you open your mobile network connectivity for anyone…

Fortunately CyanogenMod on my Samsung Galaxy S4 gives me root access so I've put the domain name of the update server in the hosts file and point it to localhost. This stops the madness and restores sanity so I will not be surprised by a bulk data download while I'm tethering or staying in a hotel.

2 thoughts on “Think Twice Before You Let Smartphones And Tablets Tether”

  1. The situation becomes hopelessly dire when you have installed applications that attempt to upload data to a cloud in the background, such as an automatic remote backup utility. All those personal high-resolution photos and 1080p videos end up consuming quite a lot of bandwidth…

    Out of curiosity: do you have to re-edit the HOSTS file every time you actually want to update your OS?

  2. Hi,

    Out of curiosity: do you have to re-edit the HOSTS file every time you
    actually want to update your OS?

    no, not quite 🙂 Ive put two scripts in the /etc directory that I can
    call via a terminal app. The first one changes the system partition to
    read/write mode and puts the original hosts file in place before locking
    the partition again. And the second one does the same but copies a hosts
    file in place with all the domains to be blocked inside.

    Not overly elegant but it works very well.


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