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This question already has an answer here:

My 2015 MacBook Pro uses wifi from a 4G dongle. Some process or application is regularly making large download requests, which are very expensive over 4G - it recently used $60 of data in a single day, for an unknown purpose.

How can I detect (and disable) these processes?

To demonstrate, I rebooted and immediately opened Activity Monitor (so I'd have an accurate measure of the network activity), then used the laptop for an hour or so (but without constantly monitoring the activity).

The total Data Received is 428Mb (confirmed on the wifi dongle), but the cumulative network traffic of the processes listed is far less than this:

enter image description here

I assume that one or more processes is running, requesting data, then closing, and that after this they're no longer individually listed in the Activity Monitor, so it's not possible to determine which processes are implicated.

How can I debug which application or process is causing this? Activity Monitor doesn't seem to be precise enough, so is there a better option?

PS I have disabled:

  • App Store "check for updates" and "automatically download"
  • DropBox
  • Google Drive
  • iCloud Drive
  • and I haven't opened iTunes.

marked as duplicate by Allan, LH16, IconDaemon, bmike macos Aug 27 '17 at 0:23

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Isn't this question more about the method of finding offenders and measuring their impact before blocking their chattiness compared to the question (and its answers) given as a duplicate? Should this really be transferred to a new question or would an edit suffice? – LangLangC Aug 29 '17 at 14:54
  • @LangLangC I agree - I need to know which app(s) are causing the drainage, before I can block them. The existing answer provides some suggestions, but I still haven't found a satisfactory and simple way to identify the culprit(s) without wading through pages of diagnostics – Stephen Lead Aug 29 '17 at 23:43
  • I'm not positive, but a suspicion is that the iCloud backup settings from my second laptop are being applied to this laptop, causing iCloud to start downloading Photos, Documents, etc on this laptop. (Today when I opened iCloud settings on the problematic laptop, all of the options were enabled, whereas previously they were disabled). As far as I can see, background iCloud backups do not appear in the Activity Monitor's Network tab – Stephen Lead Oct 16 '17 at 23:35
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You can monitor the traffic with numerous applications and tools. One that is already installed is

/usr/bin/nettop

To block this unwanted traffic the easiest you also have numerous options:

– block the destinations via /etc/hosts

– block the ports used by those unruly programs using your builtin pf firewall

– use one of the application level firewalls like –– RadioSilence –– LittleSnitch –– HandsOff –– Vallum –– TripMode

Most important and practical is of course to just uninstall the offenders if posssible.

  • Actually, Radio Silence simply lists the number of times that a process accessed the internet, not how much data was transferred. This doesn't really help in my case since a required app might make many small requests. I'll check out some of your other suggestions – Stephen Lead Aug 22 '17 at 4:05

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