Data usage issues

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  • Problem
  • Updated 10 months ago
  • Acknowledged
  • (Edited)
First of all, Viasat reps - thank you for what you've done so far in attempting to relieve our concerns with data usage. I know you're trying and it is not unnoticed and it is appreciated.

However - I must escalate this. We just flipped to the new billing period, and naturally I checked usage today (as I do every day) and the usage is showing as 33Gbs and counting! That is in day one (today) and it's just now 1PM EST as I write this. 

As mentioned in other posts, my first instinct is NOT to be skeptical, however this is just way beyond the pale. We have not streamed anything at all, we've all been at work, there is simply not a good explanation for this kind of consumption. 

Can ViaSat PLEASE advise where this consumption is coming from? To date, the only answers I've received have been along the lines of "yes, we do a see a spike in usage - but we can't really tell you where that is coming from". So while I'm not inclined to be skeptical, I do need to see more granularity in your tracking data in order to understand just what it is that your monitors think our systems are doing. Can't you do that? Please!

Before you ask (or suggest it), of course I will write to viasatlistens@viasat.com as well.

Rique
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Rique

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Posted 10 months ago

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Matt B, Viasat Employee

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Rique,

We are looking for that email!  In the mean time, reboot your modem by unplugging it from the wall, coax and any Ethernet cables, let it sit for a minute or two, then plug it back in.  The modem will need to be online for us to investigate.
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Rique

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Matt B,

Case  # 01637088
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Rique

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Matt B,

I will get my wife to turn it all back on again, but I do not want to do that unless I know that you (or a Viasat tech) are/is actively watching. I do not want to chew through any more of my data allotment unless it's for a good reason.

Please advise when you have folk ready to watch and I will ask the wife to start it back up.

Rique
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Call me crazy, but... maybe somebody from Viasat Tier 3 or higher support should actually get on the phone and call Rique while the issue is occuring rather than playing social media tag.

Worst that could happen is it's discovered to be Rique's problem and the best is that it's a Viasat problem that can be fixed to everyone's benefit.  
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Matt B, Viasat Employee

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Rique,

When troubleshooting by email, we work the cases as they come in.  I have several that I'm actively working right now.  Same with Brad and Diana. 

If you're looking for immediate, live assistance, then your best route is to call into Customer Care. 855-463-9333.
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Rique

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Matt B,

Thanks. I suspected as much. Unfortunately, my wife is the only person at home right now and she's not comfortable dealing with tech issues, she leaves that to me. So I'm going to have to do what I can working with her via texting.

Riq
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mike barber

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I have found that immediately after my allotment is renewed.... like 12:04 am....  I see large a large usage. I believe it is Microsoft MS10 "update" files being downloaded to my computer. These are the executable files being downloaded, not to be confused with the actual updates that are made when these files run at a later time.

I have talked directly to my isp, NRTC and they could not offer anyway in which I could control the timing of these downloads. I have called Microsoft and done an extensive review of the web and can not find a solution. So basically, we as MS10 users are subjected to Microsoft's use of data that we pay for.

Your usage of 33Gbs is quite large so I would suspect that the Microsoft usage is a small part of that.
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James Paramore

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Change your connection  to a metered connection, that way you can choose when to download and install the updates.
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mike barber

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I have had my connection set to a metered connection from the time I first went on to satellite service. That does not prevent Microsoft from downloading their executables whenever they want to.

I found this same issue in many places on the web so it isn't just me.

If you have some knowledge of how the metered connection can resolve this I would really appreciate the details of how to do it.

thanks,
mike
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mike barber

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Durring my research on this problem I also found that Microsoft can and does use an MS10 computer to distribute the update files to other computers. Of course, I can't confirm this however when I did actually get a chance to talk to a Microsoft agent, he confirmed that the download CAN NOT be scheduled. That Microsoft has complete control of the timing on that.
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James Paramore

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Yes from what I understand MS10 does use your PC to distribute files across the net. But that can be turned off also. Not sure why yours is still downloading on a metered connection, mine is set to metered and it does not download unless I tell it to. You can go into services and disable windows update, but you will need to do it each time you restart the PC. 
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Bradley

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At the rate Rique is burning data, his pc is either acting as a host server for something or his modem is about to blow.
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Rique

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mike, we are 100% Mac. I only use Windows 10 in Parallels on my Macbook Pro, which is at my office 57 miles from my home. This is not Windows 10.

Bradley, it looks like that to me also - or perhaps a huge photo library upload (or download) - the thing is, we don't do that. 
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mike barber

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Sorry Rique. Yes, with Mac you won't have this problem.
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James Paramore

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Sounds like something is going on with your network. Do you work from home and connect to a office network? Macs are bad about connecting to the cloud and syncing files, etc.
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Rique

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Yes, I work from home but not today. This has all been today and none of us have been online, as we've all been at work. And I have to disagree, Macs are not "bad" about connecting to the cloud and syncing files. Where have you heard that? It's not accurate.

(I'm not picking a fight, I'm just setting the record straight in the interest of accuracy).

Riq
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James Paramore

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I had to disable my cloud account on my macbook because it kept trying to synch every time I turned it on. 
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Christine Conrad, Champion

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Riq, have you tried disabling/disconnecting all your devices, and then checking to see if your data usage is still increasing?

Then, by connecting only one device at a time, check data usage, that way you can isolate the culprit.

One or more of your devices connected to your home network may well be infected by a virus or malware, or transferring data to a cloud storage system.
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Gwalk900, Champion

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Rique,

ISP's make a volume of data available to their subscribers.

They only track data to the extent needed to calculate data used to be deducted from a users data allowance.

They can infer  where a user went only by the type of data used and that can be very misleading and then they only go back to the month in progress and the previous month.

The only way to know which devices used data and when and where that data was used is by the use of a personal router that features the ability to track data per device ... and not all do.

All connection paths must be monitored and the place for that is within your router.

If you have the Viasat wifi Modem you would need to disable the Viasat Modems wireless "radios" and then connect your own router.

I use an Asus RT-AC3100 running the Asuswrt-Merlin firmware.

I understand that you are a Mac user so some items in the following link will not apply but I am posting so that you can see the tracking features available.

I strongly suggest you get a full featured router to take the mystery out of data usage:


https://community.viasat.com/viasat/topics/understanding-and-tracking-data-usage


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Rique

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GWalk900, thanks -

Absolutely. We've been planning to get the Google WiFi Mesh set-up for precisely that reason (the ability to monitor usage per-device and to provide reports, not just in real time, but daily, weekly, etc.). We will be placing that order soon.

As for what you said above regarding inference of usage, that's not consistent with what I was told by Viasat when esvt was active. I was told quite specifically that we had used "x" data for streaming and "y" data for web browsing and "z" data for Email, etc. While it was not so granular as to identify which web sites, which Emails, which browsers, etc., it was granular enough to be able to differentiate between Youtube and Netflix, for instance. 

So based upon my experiences in dealing with Viasat in the past (while researching a similar question regarding usage), I don't think it is unreasonable for me to expect that they can still provide usage data, even at a high level, similar to what they had been able to provide in the past. My modem is the same modem, nothing in our setup has changed since that incident.

Either they were not being honest with me in the past (and I really doubt that would be the case) or they've crippled whatever usage tracking and reporting technology they had been using at that time (possible, but I kind of doubt they would purposely cripple it) or they deemed it to be inconsistent and therefore not reliable (this is the likeliest of possible reasons, in my opinion) - or they've decided for PR reasons that it's not a good idea to share that info with the customer (I suppose that's possible, but I hope it's not the case).

I suppose its possible that all they were doing in the past was making inferences due to what data they had at their disposal - but if that's the case, then sadly they were quite disingenuous with me when we discussed usage in the summer of 2017 with them.

Again, thanks - I alway appreciate helpful advice!

ALSO - (I suppose I buried the lead) - we think we may know what the culprit is. When I get home this eve, I hope to investigate further. I don't want to say just what it is yet, but I think I'm on to something.

Rique
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Rique

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OK, this is what I think is the culprit. I didn’t think this was even possible, but as I said in another thread, you learn something new every day. It’s ( can I get a drum roll, please?)... the Chromecast!

No, none of us are casting huge video libraries. I’m the only one in the household who even knows how to use a Chromecast and I prefer my Apple TV or Amazon Firestick. However - I recently re-located my Chromecast from one TV to another and apparently there is a glitch where, when a Chromecast is in setup mode, OR if a Chromecast has dropped from WiFi temporarily, it can make itself available as a WAP on your network. Astonishing, right? What’s supposed to happen is the CC is temporarily seen as a WAP - and, after setup finishes, it would again only be available locally and in its standard operating mode. With this glitch, it stays on the network as a WAP - and (here’s the really fun part) - it’s an unsecured WAP!

That alone would have been bad, but would not have chewed up data - UNLESS something was accessing it as a WAP. And (you guessed it) - someone WAS. You see, we have a nice apartment above our garage, which we have temporarily rented. The tenant has to make her own arrangements for internet access, because data cap reasons, so she uses in-town (library) and LTE when here. However - she (I honestly think this was an innocent mistake) saw a device on WiFi called “Chromecast” and so she connected (not really even knowing what Chromecast is) and that connection was remembered! When next she fired up her computer, it connected to the CC WiFi connection instead of her LTE WiFi connection and thus began to greedily slurp away at data.

To prove my theory, I re-connected everything except for CC and usage has been normal for hours.

And if you should doubt this whacky set of circumstances. I would ask Mr. Google about “ChromeCast” and “unsecured WAP”. Prepare to be astonished by this glaring hole in security. Thanks, Google! You screwed up our network, but at least you told me all about it with your search engine.

... and I never blamed ViaSat, I only wanted more info concerning what was actually using data. Luckily I (hopefully) figured it out on my own.

(Phew!)

Rique
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Michael McDowell

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Thanks for the update!
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Yes, thanks for the follow up - all too often we're left wondering whatever happened to old <insert user name here> as he or she fades quickly into the night without so much as a "my bad" or oops or actual acknowledgement of a problem by Viasat ;)

This should serve as a reminder that like teen slasher flicks, the deranged data killer is often already inside the house and it's worth it to double check upstairs under the beds. Even Bev I, think, pointed out a wireless printer that pretty much did the same. Expect more in the IoT going forward where it'll be your refrigerator.

Does not your router, whatever brand, display devices connected to it? Do not Macs display a list of wireless networks in range? Just curious... it's really what many of us mean when saying secure your router... against all enemies both foreign and domestic ;)

Unless it is the Viasat (née Exede) WiFi modem/router  - Viasat would not have been able to tell you which devices are using data. For the older standalone modem the information collected is very unreliable and was often a source of confusion (based on user agent headers in requests which ultimately say noting about the devices themselves).

That capability is there as evidenced by the following disclaimer:
Viasat strives to constantly improve its technology. The Viasat WiFi Modem detects publicly broadcasted WiFi networks and collects information on the properties of those networks and the level of interference of those networks with the Viasat WiFi Modem. Viasat uses this information to troubleshoot its customers’ home network and to optimize, troubleshoot, measure, and monitor the performance of its network and services.  If you are a Viasat subscriber and would like more information, please view our Privacy Policy here. If you are a non-Viasat customer and do not want Viasat to collect this information, you can turn-off your modem or router’s broadcasting of this information. Please see your user manual for details on how to turn off your device’s broadcasting of this information.

The Viasat WiFi Modem may also collect information about devices in WiFi range of the WiFi Modem, including, but not limited to, the device’s unique MAC address, the hostname of the device, and the connection properties specific to that device. Viasat also uses this information to optimize, troubleshoot, measure, and monitor the performance of its network and services. You can request that Viasat delete any of the information based on your device’s unique MAC address by emailing Viasat at Privacy@Viasat.com and providing Viasat with your devices’ unique MAC address, your first and last name, and an email address for us to respond to you.
Yet one more reason why many of us opt for our own routers despite no obvious Viasat ill intent - simple privacy and no desire for anyone other than ourselves to troubleshoot our home networks. I and others have nothing against this collection provided it is optional (including gathering any other data usage statistics beyond simple counts and times reported) - however, hardliners like myself feel that this should be an opt-in rather than opt-out feature.

If in fact using the Viasat WiFi modem, it makes it all the more frustrating why you couldn't have been provided information regarding devices using your connection when calling in originally a few days ago unless you opted out of collection. Documentation of the eSVT tool suggests it's readily available to Viasat agents - perhaps some of them require some remedial training.  
(Edited)
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Rique

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Old Labs,

For WiFi, we currently use the Apple AirPort Extreme, which has been a terrific router for years, performance-wise, but not at all adequate for tracking and reporting on usage. We’ve never used the ViaSat modem for WiFi.

When we decided to rent out the apartment, I decided to research mesh systems, so that I could cover off our dead spots, but more importantly so that I could monitor and report on usage. We were all set to order Eero, but their monitoring is real-time only, with no reporting. That’s not going to cut it. So we’ve decided on the Google WiFi mesh system (ironic, in light of what just happened to us with the Google Chromecast), mainly because of the usage monitoring and reporting which it supports. I will be ordering it this weekend.

Rique
(Edited)
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Ok that explains why Viasat woud be unable to tell you what device (except potentially for the Airport) was using data - they then can only determine what host sites are be accessed (and then I think they only use that for generic categorization which may or may not provide hints). Some undoubtedly will argue that Viasat should log and make known each host site being accessed - others will disagree.   

The only other piece of information that could be used is the "user agent string" accompanying HTTP requests - unfortunately that's not a reliable indicator of device, but rather application compatibility. When eSVT was temporarily released to the masses, I recall a number of compaints questioning its data usage accuracy since some would claim but I don't have an iPhone, eSVT is showing one and I only use Windows  - what was being shown was an application was using a "user agent string" to tell web sites its behavior was similar to that of an iPhone (i.e. application compatibility with an iPhone). The devices being shown were "derived" from unreliable info in the requests.

I'm pretty sure Viasat would show me using a Windows Phone every now and then despite not owning one ever (and did have to simulate some others during my developer days) - occasionally I'll force my browser's user agent string to one for a Windows Phone which causes some web sites I frequent to serve up less data intensive mobile versions of their content to save data.

Just trying to help you learn something new today - yesterday's gone ;)
(Edited)