Monitor usage on the Mac with Little Snitch

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I haven't seen anything else about this, so maybe this post will be helpful to someone. I'm a Mac user, and as far as I can tell the Mac has no provisions for scheduling downloads and updates. The best I can do is to monitor usage after the fact, and I recently found a good tool for that. I haven't really figured it out, but I think the information is worth sharing. 

The program is called Little Snitch. I got it through the MacHeist Directorate bundle, a reliable source of interesting software that isn't available through the App Store. Little Snitch monitors and controls network connections, allowing you to set rules for what is allowed and what isn't. I installed it and started trying to work with it before realizing that I don't know nearly enough about protocols and applications to make any changes right off the bat, so I reset it to "default" and told it to run in Silent Mode, permitting all connections. In Silent Mode, the program watches and records all data traffic but applies no rules or restrictions. This lets me see what's happening over time and determine if there's something that doesn't look right, or needs changing. It's been valuable even in this permissive mode. 

For example, I can click on the small menu icon to see the real time monitor. The monitor shows all processes that have been recorded. I can sort them by last activity, amount of traffic, etc. This clued me in to the fact that Dropbox had been using bandwidth, so I was able to pause sych on that until I can figure out how to manage it. I can see that the software update daemon was active until almost 8 hours ago (3 AM).

I wish I could give more complete advice on what to do with the information from Little Snitch, but I think any Mac user will benefit from at least being able to SEE what traffic is taking place. It allows a crude data management in that you can turn things off temporarily. 

1. Install Little Snitch. It was a great deal in the bundle, don't know what it costs standalone.
2. Open the Little Snitch preferences. 
3. Under General, turn the Network Filter On, Silent Mode, Allow Connection Attempts, Show status in menu bar. 
4. Under Monitor, turn Network Monitor ON and check the box for Show network activity in menu bar, show data rates as numerical values.
5. Turn off automatic updates, ha ha.

Once the program is running, clicking on the menu bar icon will open up "Little Snitch Network Monitor" - a small black window showing processes and data rates. 

The small gray icon on the upper left opens a drop down box where you can choose to see traffic by data use, by name, by most recent activity ....

Clicking on a process in the window and then clicking the "i" information button in the menu opens up a more detailed view for that process in a new small window. This window shows the name of the process at the top, say Mail. This window shows how many servers the process has connected to, what ports it used, total traffic up and down, whether or not it's connected right now, first activity and last activity. I'll try to post a screen clipping at the bottom of this post. 

I know it's just a bare bones outline, but maybe people will find it helpful. And if someone can come back and post more advice about how to set parameters and make it more actively useful, that would be great. Little Snitch has an enormous amount of online help data, which I  don't understand well enough to offer any advice about, but I bet someone here can do it!

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Posted 5 years ago

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Photo of ExedeEmerald


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Hi Kentuckienne, Thank you for sharing all of this information you have found with being a Mac user. I am sure that this is going to be useful for other Mac users here. =) 

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