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View Full Version : Excessive data usage - advice please



BBCmicro
16-07-2012, 08:09 AM
Two girls came to stay with us yesterday (20-something graduate students, acquaintances of family. Not paying rent, here for 5 weeks). When I turned off my computer at 10 pm there was a message from Telstra saying I had used over 80% of my 10 GB monthly allowance, and further checking showed 8 GB had been used that afternoon!

I would welcome advice on what the traffic is likely to be and what to do about it. Both girls have gone off to work this morning. Neither of them was near a computer for a good hour around 6pm when we had dinner

Chilling_Silence
16-07-2012, 08:14 AM
Good combination of Download + Upload like that is likely to be bittorrent, or the likes of Skype (Voice / video chat)

Save yourself some heartache (And your data cap) and spend $80-odd on a TP-Link router and pop Gargoyle on it. Per-device bandwidth limits are *simple* to setup and will solve all your problems! :)

EDIT: Just make sure you're there to grab them when they get home, it's plausible it will fire itself straight back up again if it's a torrent.

BBCmicro
16-07-2012, 08:23 AM
Hmm - just read the other thread. Will think about that

So it could be bittorrent. Will that have had access to media on my computer? I have more than a dozen folders shared

inphinity
16-07-2012, 08:34 AM
So it could be bittorrent. Will that have had access to media on my computer? I have more than a dozen folders shared

Bittorrent doesn't just go and pluck everything it can find and seed it, so unless someone has pointed their torrent client at one of your shared folders, no.

linw
16-07-2012, 08:58 AM
Perhaps a bit OT and moralistic, but I just can't believe the cheek and audacity, not to mention immorality, of commandeering a benefactor's bandwidth without any attempt at finding out the consequences to the owner. Seems as if it doesn't come into the theft category now. Call me old fashioned if you like.

8ftmetalhaed
16-07-2012, 10:14 AM
If you're at the start of your billing term, I would suggest making them pay for another data block if it's offered by the ISP. That's just not fair.

Chilling_Silence
16-07-2012, 10:20 AM
Hmm - just read the other thread. Will think about that

So it could be bittorrent. Will that have had access to media on my computer? I have more than a dozen folders shared

So the way that it'll be working is (IF they're downloading via bittorrent) they will have found something they like. Lets take Linux Mint for example (http://www.linuxmint.com/download_ce.php), they will have chosen to download a .torrent which is an "information" file, it contains a bit of an overview of the files, some hashes to make sure they download OK, and the details of a "tracker" which keeps track of who is downloading the file.
The .torrent file containts information about the actual download, broken up likely into anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 pieces (roughly).

As the file begins to be downloaded, the parts that you've already download will then be re-shared.

So lets say it begins downloading, and it gets Parts #1, #587, #3244 & #7950. Somebody else connected to the tracker needs Part #587, so they get it from you, meanwhile you then start getting Part # 6289 from them at the same time. This is how the whole "Peer to Peer" side of things operates, because as you download part of it from one person, you also upload another part to another person.

What that does is lightens the load on the original server / sharer because they don't have to upload Part # 587 to every single person people pull it automatically from each other.

There's a bit more kung-fu that goes on behind the scenes, but you're OK because a bittorrent client won't scour your network finding everything it can and sharing it. However, keep in mind that depending on what they're downloading, they could be putting you at risk under the new copyright law if they get caught, as the account is under your name.

Again theres no promises it *is* bittorrent, and as mentioned there are a lot of legitimate bittorrent uses. However, ask them, it's your best bet, coz my money says it's either that, or some form of audio / video chat etc.

@linw:
I agree! Still, because a lot of people take it for granted, or simply don't mind abusing that kind of thing, it's good to know it's not hard to prevent them, and "abuse them back" as it were. Screw them over with a 50MB a day limit, then we'll see who's laughing!! ;)

psycik
16-07-2012, 10:25 AM
Nothing more frustrating than being stuck on 5kbps (as you can do with gargoyle) probably more effective than shutting it off entirely. Makes everything SO slow and yet still annoyingly usable.

I do this on a couple of my machines as they've spiked usage occasionally (mostly automatic processes). Sometimes I'll be on there and realise it running really slow then notice it's tripped the quota.

MushHead
16-07-2012, 10:31 AM
Are these girls used to unlimited/large data caps (e.g from overseas)? They may have not even thought twice about downloading/watching a video; after all, 10GB is pretty small in this day & age. I (just) get by with 40GB & 3 teenagers gaming/Skype'ing & watching YouTube & the odd TV show online - mind you, they have been careless in the past & I have got them to think about how much traffic they're using once I've shown them the Gargoyle stats...

Nick G
16-07-2012, 11:45 AM
I hate to think about how much I use
At least 1gb a month on my iPod, the same on my phone, and I *barely* use them. Don't even know how much on my laptop, but must be a lot. Good thing uni pays for my dad's internet, must be pretty generous as I've never blown the data cap.

Speaking of which, is there any program that can measure how much data I use on my laptop? i have no access to the router, so anything using firmware on that is out.

BBCmicro
16-07-2012, 01:09 PM
Are these girls used to unlimited/large data caps (e.g from overseas

Yes that's what it will be. One of them is from overseas and I suspect she is the culprit based on personality

The previous time this happened it was an overseas person updating her laptop with a Service Pack etc, in the days when a GB was a lot.

I've just read the Telstra Usage meter again - yesterday's usage has now gone over 9 GB :( Presumably Telstra was a bit late in posting last night

Telstra says:
"When you do exceed your limit additional usage blocks will be charged at $2.95 per block of 1,024 megabytes, regardless of the number of megabytes you use from that block. We will endeavour to send you another reminder email if you use additional usage blocks."

I suspect (after I've discussed with Mrs Micro) we will ban "bittorrent" and just pay the $2.95 as they occur. "It's not even a cup of coffee" to quote our daughter (who will be adding to the internet load on weekends) We've got another 25 days until the billing restarts...

Interesting about "torrent", Chill. I have never considered it because I had a bad image of it. Answer me one question: do you think it's for me? I like media of all kind but not particularly keen on modern movies (and not pom)

dugimodo
16-07-2012, 02:10 PM
I wouldn't worry about torrents for yourself BBC unless or until you wish to download something large and it has an option to use a torrent on the site. Torrent software itself is just a downloading / sharing tool to improve download performance by distributing the workload. The torrent software itself won't help you find any media, you need to use a search engine or similar for that. Also well it is a great tool for large downloads and often used legitimately for that, it is also the method of choice for most illegal file sharing which is most likely the case when you start talking about movies/ music/ TV shows.

Chilling_Silence
16-07-2012, 02:16 PM
Bittorrent is an excellent way of distributing things where your own bandwidth isn't at a premium.

Let us know how you go! Ouch about the per-GB, that's insanely expensive :(

DeSade
16-07-2012, 03:11 PM
I've just read the Telstra Usage meter again - yesterday's usage has now gone over 9 GB :( Presumably Telstra was a bit late in posting last night

Telstra says:
"When you do exceed your limit additional usage blocks will be charged at $2.95 per block of 1,024 megabytes, regardless of the number of megabytes you use from that block. We will endeavour to send you another reminder email if you use additional usage blocks."

I suspect (after I've discussed with Mrs Micro) we will ban "bittorrent" and just pay the $2.95 as they occur. "It's not even a cup of coffee" to quote our daughter (who will be adding to the internet load on weekends) We've got another 25 days until the billing restarts...


If the girls used 9 gig in a day it is conceivable they could use 9GB or more every day that means the net will cost you an extra $27 a day and over 25 days you are looking at a bill of $675

Nick G
16-07-2012, 03:54 PM
Let us know how you go! Ouch about the per-GB, that's insanely expensive :(

If only 3g was that cheap :D

PeteS
16-07-2012, 05:39 PM
[QUOTE=MushHead;1106063]Are these girls used to unlimited/large data caps (e.g from overseas)? They may have not even thought twice "

Good on you for at least commenting that these 'culprits' may in fact come from an internet 1st world country possibly I might presume like perhaps Korea or Philipines and be quite unused to the derisory state of what we suffer. Blimey I didn't know that tiny 10gb plans were still around anyway. Still I suppose if I didn't have much food in the fridge and was on limited means I'm unlikely to say to any house guests please go for it when they want a meal. On a more sensible note I am enjoying as usual chills wonderful blog site that this topic has had me looking at.

mikebartnz
16-07-2012, 07:05 PM
Perhaps a bit OT and moralistic, but I just can't believe the cheek and audacity, not to mention immorality, of commandeering a benefactor's bandwidth without any attempt at finding out the consequences to the owner. Seems as if it doesn't come into the theft category now. Call me old fashioned if you like.
Every time I connect my netbook using Windows there are always several programs wanting to update especially Windows. I could connect and do nothing but still clock up several megs.

mikebartnz
16-07-2012, 07:11 PM
Yes that's what it will be. One of them is from overseas and I suspect she is the culprit based on personality

The previous time this happened it was an overseas person updating her laptop with a Service Pack etc, in the days when a GB was a lot.

I've just read the Telstra Usage meter again - yesterday's usage has now gone over 9 GB :( Presumably Telstra was a bit late in posting last night

Telstra says:
"When you do exceed your limit additional usage blocks will be charged at $2.95 per block of 1,024 megabytes, regardless of the number of megabytes you use from that block. We will endeavour to send you another reminder email if you use additional usage blocks."
You are on the same plan I used to be on and went online with them to increase it to 10gb for $7 anyway they rang me up and Im now on phone plus 40gb for $80 ($75 in Auck, Well, Chch) and at full speed.:cool: I just have to remember to change things after the twelve months are up.

zqwerty
16-07-2012, 09:38 PM
NetWorx Free Bandwidth Monitoring and Usage Reporting

http://www.softperfect.com/products/networx/

zqwerty
16-07-2012, 09:47 PM
I think I am on that plan what does happen after 'the twelve months are up'?

Please let me know mikebartnz, I am not aware of what you mean.

mikebartnz
16-07-2012, 09:56 PM
I think I am on that plan what does happen after 'the twelve months are up'?

Please let me know mikebartnz, I am not aware of what you mean.
After the twelve months are up it starts costing $30 more but by then there will be another plan.:p
Why the hell does it put scroll bars when there are no need for them?
They have gone for some reason.

BBCmicro
17-07-2012, 09:47 AM
Well the "management meeting" didn't quite go as expected - they simply said No problem - we'll pay. I mentioned DeSade's $675 but it didn't seem to cause much fear. (but yesterday's usage did drop to 1.1GB) The suspect claimed not to know about torrent but admitted to "a couple of hours" on Skype

When I drill down through the csv data provided by telstra - yes I do have a fun and active social life, why do you ask? - there was a half GB downloaded while we were having dinner on Sunday (but only about 70MB uploaded). There was also minor activity at 2:30 am and 4 am - which must be entering Telstra's accounts a different way because my router was off (CableTV box maintenance?) I think it's time to look at NetWorx mentioned by Zqwerty

zqwerty
17-07-2012, 10:46 AM
Networx has to be installed on any computer you wish to know the amount of bandwidth being used over a period of time, don't think you can remotely monitor.

It looks very much like Torrent activity to me, Skype only uses about 100MBs/hr on audio only and probably about 4 times as much with video as well, no where near the amounts you are noticing anyway.

wainuitech
17-07-2012, 11:54 AM
Well the "management meeting" didn't quite go as expected - they simply said No problem - we'll pay. I mentioned DeSade's $675 but it didn't seem to cause much fear. (but yesterday's usage did drop to 1.1GB) The suspect claimed not to know about torrent but admitted to "a couple of hours" on Skype

When I drill down through the csv data provided by telstra - yes I do have a fun and active social life, why do you ask? - there was a half GB downloaded while we were having dinner on Sunday (but only about 70MB uploaded). There was also minor activity at 2:30 am and 4 am - which must be entering Telstra's accounts a different way because my router was off (CableTV box maintenance?) I think it's time to look at NetWorx mentioned by Zqwerty I use networx here on all the PC's and it works very nice, it actually gives exact amounts of data usage in or out in REAL TIME. You can watch a movie on Youtube and see just how much data is being sucked up as it plays.

I had a big fight with Telstra a while back over something similar, they claimed we downloaded approx 20GB at a certain time and there was no one home and all the PC's were off. It was then they admitted that their monitors are not accurate and can be a hour or more out compared to the actual time something was downloaded.

Just as an example I've attached a couple of Pictures, played a song from youtube, look at what teh usage was at the start, then at the finish -- ;)

40004001

33MB and thats only playing one 6 minute song/Video.

psycik
17-07-2012, 12:26 PM
Honestly, just go gargoyle. $103 from ascent for a Gigabit/Wifi N capable router from TP Link (WR1043ND) or less for Megabit/WifiG (about $80 I thought).

And it uses the Atheros image direct over the top of the stock TP Link firmware - about 0% brain power needed.

Then follow your nose for quotas, web site usage, search usage, restrictions etc.

I've written programs for mine that read my telecom usage, and my gargoyle usage and matches them up. Keeps Telecom honest, and is useful for tracking spikes (I find Gargoyle only keeps 48 hours of usage stats. Not sure about web site usage.

Chilling_Silence
17-07-2012, 02:15 PM
Depends on your router, you can make it keep longer site stats and things, sites visited, searches performed.

@BBCMicro
One thing to keep in mind is that a video chat is more or less likely to be semi-synchronous with its transfer.
If I'm sending video, I'm receiving video (For the better part). AFAIK even when you disable your camera during a video call, or "pause" it at least, Skype still continues to stream "video" of your static image up.

That, and there's no way even on a voice call they can download that much and upload that same amount (Even if they were voice sending, video receiving) on Skype. It's pretty much guaranteed to be a torrent.

Great part about Gargoyle is you can get it to tell you the protocol the traffic is using too and find out exactly whats what. On top of that, you can have 100% hard solid evidence to provide to these two young ladies and say "Here is YOUR devices MAC address, this is precisely how much you downloaded and uploaded. Multiply it by $2.95 per-GB and you get X. This is what you owe me so we're square". Couldn't be easier! :)

BBCmicro
17-07-2012, 04:14 PM
Daughter arrives on the weekend, friend of the girls. I'll get her to see what's starting up unnoticed. When I asked the suspect about "torrent" I should have asked have you ever used it, rather than Are you using it

[Daughter not too bad on the technical front. While working on a small island off the coast of New Caledonia her Acer Aspire One AOA150 netbook froze. She got someone to download a file for her and then she re-flashed the BIOS... Certainly surprised me!]

Chilling_Silence
17-07-2012, 05:14 PM
Aaaah nice, good on her :)

Yeah my money says if you looks for things running in the systray, the culprit will be there, and it's likely they *know* it's there if the downloads have lightened up too...

Good luck!

BBCmicro
18-07-2012, 08:17 AM
Dropbox synchronisation. The culprit volunteered this information last night.

Perhaps I should take 'the cloud' more seriously....

[Why is the internet called the Cloud? Powerpoint clipart. I saw it done in 199(7?). We all laughed]

stratex5
18-07-2012, 08:21 AM
What, so she downloaded files of the internet then put them back up on the internet through her dropbox.

BBCmicro
18-07-2012, 08:36 AM
I don't know the details but here's a guess:

"Hi Mum, I forgot to bring my movie collection" /"No problem, I'll put it on my Dropbox and you can access it in NZ."

linw
18-07-2012, 09:16 AM
Yes, too easy to forget about sync setups. They can be lethal to data caps. Hard to manage, particularly with computers that aren't yours!

But, by their very nature, you undertake to down/up load all changed files no matter who changes them.

Sounds like you are making progress, though, but I don't envy you. Now you have another (daughter) potential data snatcher!

Good luck.

Agent_24
18-07-2012, 12:27 PM
Bittorrent doesn't just go and pluck everything it can find and seed it, so unless someone has pointed their torrent client at one of your shared folders, no.

You don't just "share a folder" and leave it open for anyone to download with bittorrent as with other types of file sharing programs.

You must generate the torrent link and then give it to people, only people who know of your torrent can actually download anything off you.

stratex5
18-07-2012, 02:52 PM
I don't know the details but here's a guess:

"Hi Mum, I forgot to bring my movie collection" /"No problem, I'll put it on my Dropbox and you can access it in NZ."

That would explain the download but what about the upload?

Chilling_Silence
18-07-2012, 02:55 PM
That would explain the download but what about the upload?

The reverse synchronization of local files

stratex5
18-07-2012, 03:05 PM
The reverse synchronization of local files

Could you please explain?

Agent_24
18-07-2012, 03:10 PM
Could you please explain?

The upload of their changed\new files to the server.

stratex5
18-07-2012, 03:13 PM
Oh, ok, thanks:)

inphinity
18-07-2012, 03:17 PM
You don't just "share a folder" and leave it open for anyone to download with bittorrent as with other types of file sharing programs.

You must generate the torrent link and then give it to people, only people who know of your torrent can actually download anything off you.

There are plenty of torrent clients out there that enable simple creation of torrents by choosing a file or folder to share, though ;)

Chilling_Silence
18-07-2012, 05:03 PM
Yes but then you have to upload all of those files to a tracker....