Saving bandwidth now that iTunes doesn’t manage apps

Anthony Caruana
26 September, 2017
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Following on from the editorial I posted to subscribers of the Macworld Australia weekly email newsletter, I received a couple of messages pointing out a new setting that had been added to System Preferences on the Mac.

The new setting, found by going into System Preferences and opening the Sharing applet is something called ‘Content Caching’.

This setting will allow a machine on the network, designated as a parent, to reduce the amount of bandwidth you use by suing some of your Mac’s storage to hold iCloud content that is used by multiple machines:

When you download cacheable content from the internet for an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch that’s connected to your Mac, a copy of the download is stored on your Mac. The next time a connected iOS device tries to download the same content, it automatically gets the data directly from your Mac over USB instead downloading it from the internet again.

For example, if you download an app to an iPhone and connect that iPhone to your Mac, the app will then be installed to other devices without having to go to the internet again.

In my editorial last Friday, I said:

As for the bandwidth issue – I acknowledge that this might be an issue for many people. However, this might be a good trigger to look at what your ISP is offering you.

But as one of our readers, Leonie said in response:

Living in regional Australia I am limited to using mobile broadband with very low GB plans or astronomical charges. My present scheme is 8GB per month. In order to change it to 15GB per month I would have to pay $50 more on my current plan. Other types of plan are available, e.g. I could get 20GB for $10 increase but this plan is $10/MB if you go over and my current plan is just choked once the limit is reached. We have five iOS devices. Updating apps takes at least 2GB per month per iOS device i.e. 8GB more than with the old version of iTunes. (2GB x 5 devices – 2GB onto the Mac). So all of the increased GB would disappear.

So, it looks like the new Content Caching settings will help.

But there’s a catch. In order to get your hands on this new setting, you’ll need to upgrade to High Sierra and that might be tricky if you’re on limited bandwidth or if you need to stay with an older version of macOS for compatibility reasons.

One last thing – if you enable Content Caching, go into the options. The default setting will use all of your spare disk space for cached content. I suggest pulling that down to a more reasonable size (I’ve set mine to 100GB – about 10 percent of my total available space.


5 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Firitia says:

    So far my experiences with tethered-caching (albeit on 10.12.6) are very low.
    • Every time I restart the computer, the cache is emptied.
    • Different ipads/iphones have different versions for many programs. I had once 4 versions of Facebook in the cache. It is really for schools and so where they have many but the same type of ipads.
    • You cannot connect to the internet, except within the store itself when tethered, so you cannot sign in, you must have done that beforehand.

  2. Roedie says:

    Thanks for pointing this out. BUT:
    the sneaky way Apple made the app-store in iTunes disappear – no announcement, no explaining in any way, no official replacement, just assuming everybody has plenty of bandwidth – was disgraceful. It has totally destroyed my faith in the company. If another company would behave like this, people would use the word ‘evil’. So…
    The outcome is NOT that you should look at the offerings of your ISP. The outcome will be downloading – and buying! – as few apps as possible. Developers will suffer. A lot. No iOS app-store on the Mac will cost developers dearly in the near future.
    The content sharing solution is great to have, but way to complicated for non IT-people.
    Apple has changed it’s slogan apparently. It used to be ‘It just works’. Now it is: ‘It just disappears.’

  3. bitingmidge says:

    No one likes change. I certainly don’t, and I don’t know, with three devices and a MacBook to administer while my wife and I travel more or less constantly, how I will manage them yet!

    Only one has a data plan, (because in Aus it’s expensive)and while in Europe the costs are much less we don’t need to pay for three times the connectivity. Cloud backup is out of the question (or is it?)

    It was oh so simple to set up each gadget on a big screen, plug in and sync when it was convenient (often on a train for instance) but I’m sure I’ll get over it in time.

    I felt like this when floppy disks were deleted, and then CD drives went, but somehow I coped. Let’s face it, Apple make great stuff, but they are “products” – if nothing changed we’d have no reason to buy new stuff. I suspect I’m being told it’s time to change the iPad2, the ’07 iMac, the 09 MacBook and the iPhone 3Gs. Looks like an expensive year!

  4. Div Dex says:

    Totally AGREE with Roedie (September 26th). The iTunes database allowed for ALL iOS software to be stored and managed together in one location. Now apps have been removed from this central database and assigned to each device, Contrary to popular belief, not every App update can (or should) be downloaded (Just read some of the App reviews). I started archiving previous older Apps so that, if the update caused any issues it could be ‘rolled back’ to the previous version.

    Again, contrary to popular belief, not all have the download capacity to update multiple devices.

    Apple wants people to have an iPhone, iPod, iPad, iWatch, etc. Yet, how do we keep track of what version of an App is on which device? Perhaps a database to keep track of the updates?

  5. Geoffrey John GILL says:

    Microsoft went through a period of being indifferent towards. their customers but have now realised the error of their ways. It now appears Apple are going through the same transition. No notice, extra download costs. More time etc. Okay so High Sierra will have a part solution to this, but what about the millions of iOS users that are Windows users?. Time to say goodbye to Apple?

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