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I'm tethered to my phone and I have a data cap.

Is there a system-wide setting or a set of settings I can apply to get Windows XP to minimize its network access as much as possible?

I really don't want to get billed for downloading stuff like massive security updates while tethered to a smart phone.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

In addition to disabling auto-updates:

You may try a third party firewall app that controls which program may or may not connect to the Internet.

Also, browser plugins such as AdBlock Plus and NoScript can save your browsing traffic by eliminating most adverts.

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Was this the kind of reduction the OP was looking for? – St-Ste-Ste-Stephen Mar 2 '12 at 16:17

There is not a single setting to limit XP to "low bandwidth".

You can, however, turn off Windows Updates: Control Panel -> Windows Updates -> Choose either to disable entirely, or to notify but not download until you tell it to.

You should also disable as many programs in start up as possible, especially programs that normally use network communication (which is probably most apps nowadays).

Disable Java AutoUpdate: Control Panel -> Java -> Update

Any other programs you use normally you should set not to update themselves automatically. Common culprits are Adobe Reader and Flash.

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Install a firewall, many freebies out there. This will alert you when something is trying to go outside and you can decide to Allow it or block it. This way you will know exactly what is gobbling up any bandwidth

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Definitely use AdBlock, those adds using flash are having a party on your bandwidth's expense :-)

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