What happens if I forget to turn off hotspot tethering on my iOS device and connect it via USB to a computer that is already connected to the Internet via Ethernet? Which internet / network gateway gets priority?

I'm concerned because I may have inadvertently wasted large amounts of my carrier's data usage allotment for the month. Is there a way to avoid this from happening in case I forget to disable the hotspot again? (this is on a Windows PC)

EDIT: As a follow up, how can I configure Windows to require manual input from the User before initiating tethering via a USB-connected iOS device?

3 Answers 3


I actually think there's little reason to be concerned, provided in Settings > Network, your Wi-Fi or Ethernet is ahead of iPhone USB in the left-hand list. OS X will go down the list and pick the first network provider that it needs to. So long as your WiFi stays up, you're fine.

I confirmed this by opening Network Utility and examining the transfer stats. You can see in the attached screenshots that all the action (packets) are happening over WiFi, hardly anything over iPhone USB.

enter image description here

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For any Mac users who come to this thread, you can assure that your mac will never utilize the USB tethering option by deleting this interface in the Network control panelenter image description here


The answer as far as iOS is concerned, it will serve tethering until you shut it off. Unless your Windows computer is set up with a manual step, it will see the offer for tethering and connect.

This is the same as on a Mac where simply connecting a USB cable to an iOS device with tethering on will initiate the connection. By default, Mac will prefer the tethering, so your concern about data usage is quite valid.

Feel free to either edit your question or ask a follow on question on how to configure Windows to work best with tethering and have a manual step to prevent the overages that would result if Windows joins the network in the same manner as OS X does.

  • Thanks for the input bmike! I'll edit the question to ask regarding the manual step for Windows.
    – masotime
    Jan 14, 2013 at 3:24

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