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I'm using Ubuntu 12.04, and I'd like to understand the source of background network usage.

While I'm not using the network (e.g. reading ebooks or using offline apps), Ubuntu keeps fetching data from the internet. From ifconfig, I see the download usage increasing. This happens all the time I'm connected to the 'net, not just when updates are downloading. Because I have a download quota plan I don't want to use the internet when I'm doing offline work.

Why could my internet use be increasing? What's responsible for these downloads?

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migrated from Jun 4 '12 at 7:24

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Try using nethogs to see which processes are using the network:

  1. Install nethogs using the Software Center or a package manager (sudo apt-get install nethogs).
  2. Open a terminal and run "ifconfig" to list your network interfaces. If you connect your computer with a wire the relevant interface will likely be something like eth8. If you connect wirelessly it'll be something like wlan5.
  3. Open a terminal and run "sudo nethogs interface", according to the relevant interface from before. Wait a bit. When a program accesses the internet, it will show up in the display.

To see what websites are being accessed, try running in a terminal:

netstat --protocol=inet --program

to list connections currently open. The output will show lines like

tcp        0      0 myhostname.local:59957  ESTABLISHED 23331/firefox   
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I found that chrome keeps getting packets even when i'm not browsing the net or downloading from the net, why is that and how to stop it? chrome is my favorite browser I prefer to keep using it. Also, I have chrome installed on windows 7 I don't face downloading issues in windows. – Ya Basha Jun 4 '12 at 9:49
Do you have tabs open in the background? If so, javascript on those pages may be refreshing pages or communicating with servers. – Mechanical snail Jun 4 '12 at 9:50
Also, in case of the Chrome browser, if you have synchronized your Google account, there may be periodic activity. Another cause could be that the phishing and malware protection databases are being updated. – user25656 Jun 4 '12 at 14:32
Aaaaaah at last I found the cause behind my suffering, it is chrome extension called "Socialba" provide two-way syncs Google+, Facebook, Twitter. It keeps synching and downloading hundreds of KBs and as long as the browser is active this extension is downloading data behind the scene and sometimes the total download usage reaches for 2GBs. So Idisabled this extension and VOILA chrome download usage return to zero........Thank you guys for your help and advice. – Ya Basha Jun 4 '12 at 19:49

It is possible that your machine is just communicating on the local network and is not actually going out to the internet. The only way you can be sure is by getting a packet capture program like wireshark and you can see all of the traffic that is being sent and received on a packet-by-packet basis.

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There are always something on network! even if you are not on your computer!

You can disable network temporarily with Network Manager

  • Click on network icon on top right of your screen
  • Click on Disable Networking
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