Maximizing the use of Mobile Data when working from home and avoid excessive data plan overage charges.


Introduction:

Not all of us are able to use a wired internet connection when working from home. This can be for many reasons including location and poor service offerings within the area. This forces Mobile Workers to use mobile hot spots and Mobile Phone data plans to access company resources. This is great for temporary access like reading a few emails. It can become difficult and challenging when working at home on a regular basis.

This article will detail how to conserve data to maximize usage before being hit with hefty mobile data overage charge/s. I will cover some useful configurations on a windows 10 device and then the benefits of VDI over traditional technologies like a VPN.

The challenge with most mobile phone or 3G / 4G data plans, is not everyone has unlimited data or a large data plan. The challenge arises when you consume the data plan before the month is up. This creates a cost as you would then be billed by the Carrier every day for any additional consumption over the purchased plan (if limit removed). This can be expensive and a example of overage charges could be in the region of £2.50 Per 100MB of data consumed.

That’s £25.00 per additional GB of data used. This could equate to £50.00+ per day based on two GB per day usage. lets say there are 15 days left, you could incur a charge of £750.00+ for data for that particular month.

To reduce the impact or to possibly avoid this, I have listed a few steps to reduce the bandwidth consumption whilst working from home on a 3G / 4G Mobile hot spot. This includes the client device and VDI / Remote access.

Metered Connection on Windows 10:

For all those using Windows 10 devices, there is a feature called Metered Connection. This essentially prevents windows services and applications from automatically using data.

To enable Metered Connection, you would need to navigate to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi. Click on the Wi-Fi connection you are connecting to (hot spot).

Then set the connection as a Metered connection as shown in the image above.

OneDrive Bandwidth limiting or disabling using metered licencing:

To prevent OneDrive syncing data, you would need to edit the settings within one drive.

When using the metered connection, you would need to ensure the highlighted tick box is selected “Automatically pause sync when this device is on a metered network.”

If you really do need OneDrive, then you can also configure bandwidth limiting on one drive.

You can set both the download and upload rate within the network tab of Windows.

Disable windows updates whilst using a metered connection:

One of the biggest consumers of data is windows updates. Check to ensure that updates are not being downloaded when a metered connection is enabled.

Ensure the option “Download updates over metered connections” is disabled.

Windows Sync

Ensure you are not syncing your settings as this will consume data.

VDI / RDP Techniques to reduce bandwidth

MSTSC – Remote Desktop Connection

This is section of the article most which will be more interesting for most organisations. Using RDP / Remote access technologies is one of the best ways to ensure home workers can connect to company resources with a very small data footprint.

If you are using the RD Gateway to connect to a home PC, you can adjust your bandwidth using MSTSC.

This allows you to reduce the required bandwidth and demand of data. You will note that in the experience section, I have shown two speed settings “low-speed broadband (256kbps – 2 Mbps)” / “Modem (56Kbps)” and have un-ticked all the visual nice to haves. There are draw backs to this from a visual perspective, but i am sure you would agree its better than paying significant amounts for a data plan.

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services – Custom RDP file

Same as above but for a collection of users within Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Services.

using powershell, you can set the bandwidth using a custom RDP property:

you will note that i have used a linefeed character (`n).

Set-RDSessionCollectionConfiguration –CollectionName QuickSessionCollection -CustomRdpProperty “enableworkspacereconnect:i:0 `n disable wallpaper:i:1 `n allow font smoothing:i:0 `n allow desktop composition:i:0 `n disable full window drag:i:1 `n disable menu anims:i:1 `n disable themes:i:1 `n disable cursor setting:i:0”

Custom RDP File:

you can also create custom RDP files and send these out to your users to connect this works well if you users are connecting to work PC’s in the office.

VPN users:

The way to manage VPN users would be to set traffic management and configure a maximum bandwidth per client were possible.

Image result for watchguard traffic management screenshot

This would stop any large files being sent over the VPN to a mobile hot spot.

The recommended approach would be to use MSTSC (RDP Files) configured with low bandwidth, allowing users to access work PC’s or VDI. Pixel streaming is one of the best ways to reduce network bandwidth and preserve a mobile data plan.

Avoid using VPN application / Desktop access portals unless they offer the ability to manage performance bandwidth for each client connecting.

Parallels RAS:

Parallels allows you to deploy policy’s under groups which allows you to enable bandwidth reductions measures on a subset of users (slow network users).

you can apply similar settings within Parallel’s RAS’s Client Policy section.

See the link for more information https://kb.parallels.com/en/124488

VMware Horizon View:

For those organisations using Horizon View, it is definitely worth understanding which users are running slow connections and adjusting their connection to a lower bandwidth profile. You can do this by configuring smart policy’s or by using the PCoIP ADMX template file (Set controls using Group Policy.).

Find out more about VMware’s Horizon Bandwidth profiles here

Citrix Info:

The following link details some of the XenApp and XenDesktop policies you can adjust or turn off to reduce the required client bandwidth.

https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-15-ltsr/policies/reference/ica-policy-settings/bandwidth-policy-settings.html

Summary:

In summary, I have detailed some of the measures you can take to preserve data. I have also covered some of the common remote working tools used and provided suggestions to reduce the bandwidth requirements per client.

I hope this helps businesses and users out there who have to use Mobile Data for the day to day running of work and life.

Any questions or help, message me.

References:

Communities.teradici.com. 2020. Pcoip Bandwidth Maximums For Software Clients – Teradici. [online] Available at: <https://communities.teradici.com/questions/5370/pcoip-bandwidth-maximums-for-software-clients.html>

Docs.vmware.com. 2020. Pcoip Bandwidth Settings. [online] Available at: <https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Horizon-7/7.9/horizon-remote-desktop-features/GUID-6C22A209-AFC1-47EF-9DFF-39AFB38D655D.html>

Docs.vmware.com. 2020. Bandwidth Profile Reference. [online] Available at: <https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Horizon-7/7.9/horizon-remote-desktop-features/GUID-8AA01007-091F-4E44-B7C6-A48748631947.html#GUID-8AA01007-091F-4E44-B7C6-A48748631947>

Parallels Knowledge Base. 2020. KB Parallels: Managing Client Policies In Version 16.5. [online] Available at: <https://kb.parallels.com/en/124488>

Docs.citrix.com. 2020. Bandwidth Policy Settings. [online] Available at: <https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-15-ltsr/policies/reference/ica-policy-settings/bandwidth-policy-settings.html>

information, H. and charges, C., 2020. Check Data Costs For Your Mobile Phone Or Device From Vodafone. [online] Vodafone.co.uk. Available at: <https://www.vodafone.co.uk/help-and-information/costs-and-charges/data-charges>

Watchguard.com. 2020. Traffic Management Examples. [online] Available at: <https://www.watchguard.com/help/docs/help-center/en-US/Content/en-US/Fireware/qos_trafficmanagement/tm_scenarios_c.html>

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