Using a Mac with just mobile phone Internet

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by levander, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. levander macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2011
    My Dad's looking at switching from Windows and buying a Mac. And he's looking at switching from his weird assortment of mobile phones he's had over the years to an iPhone. I talked him into this so I can stop having to fix weird issues with his computer stuff. He can just March down to the Apple
    Store if he needs help and I'm not available...

    What's weird about his set-up that I'm not sure what to do about is the only Internet access he currently has is through T-Mobile with a hotspot device called Mifi. He gets about 3.5 GB of data per month with this thing. And he's keeping his usage down to a GB or 2 per month. He doesn't do any YouTube or Netflix stuff. It's just web browsing and email as far as the Internet is concerned.

    Part of why he's keeping his Internet usage so low is he's simply not applying any of the updates that Microsoft releases. Like even his anti-virus definitions hadn't been updated in six months the last time I saw his computer.

    Maybe he should just pay the extra $40/month and get wired Internet access in his house. But he splits his time between two small properties he and my Mom own in two different cities. If he got Internet access in one place, it's only solve half the problem. And he really doesn't want to pay even the $40/month.

    What I'm worried about with a new Mac for him is performing regular system updates will consume so much data that it won't be a good solution. His regular usage patterns will fall down low enough that Internet access through his mobile phone provider is reasonably priced, but doing those updates could push costs up high enough, we need to do something else.

    Shopping around, I'm looking at a Verizon prepaid plan (which allows you to tether) for him. Data costs $20 for 3 GB. Anybody has a good idea how much data it takes per month to perform regular system updates on a Mac? He'd be running the operating system (of course) with included email, browser apps, and he'd be running word processing and a little bit of spreadsheets. So that's all he'd need to keep updated. Might might be a few other things, like Flash..

    I'm not so worried about keeping an iPhone and probably an iPad updated for him because he's frequently in places like libraries and restaurants where they have public Wifi access. He can just update his iPad and iPhone whiles he's there. He can click "Update" and leave them on the table while he's eating or whatever.

    But if he gets a Mac desktop, it won't be so easy to bring it around somewhere with free Wifi for updating. What I was hoping for is he could do something like download to his iPhone the updates for his Mac desktop. And then when he gets home, apply them to his Mac desktop.

    But talking to The Apple Store on the phone this morning, Apple doesn't have any functionality like that. In fact I was told it is impossible to update a Mac that is not directly connected to the Internet. Like the update process won't even work if there's not an active connection.

    One solution is just to get a laptop instead of a desktop, I guess. But for other reasons, I was thinking a desktop would be better for him... The laptop would require less bandwidth for updating because he could just carry his laptop to somewhere that has free Wifi and perform his updates there.

    Anyway, in picking a set-up for him, I'm trying to figure out what to do about his Internet access, ideally without spending any more money than what he's spending now on Internet access.
  2. AdrianK macrumors 68020

    Feb 19, 2011
    I haven't updated done an OS X update since January. I'm not recommending that people don't update (well, remember 10.9.2 anyone? :rolleyes:) but you can just leave it be.

    It is possible to download OS X updates from another machine (even a PC), shove them on a USB stick then install them. They're know as combo updates, I guess he'd just need to know when a new update is released.

    But anyway I don't see the big deal, if he's skipping Windows updates and getting along just fine I don't see why it would be a problem on a Mac.
  3. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    You could download the "combo" updates for him on your computer, put them on an SD card, and snail-mail it to him. You can do the same thing with many other updates. Updates for apps from the Mac App Store will be more problematic than OS updates are.

    For example, here's the 10.10.1 update for Yosemite:

    You can find a bunch more for various OS versions by googling:
    yosemite combo update
    mavericks combo update
    mountain lion combo update


    I suggest at least a 32GB SD card, but 64GB would be better. I also recommend getting at least two cards, and they be at least 10MB/sec speed. I prefer SD cards over USB flash drives for this purpose for two reasons:
    1. Write-protect switch.
    2. Flat enough to snail-mail in a simple 1st class envelope.

    Oh, and be sure to disable any/all of the automatic system updating features. I think they're still checkboxes under System Preferences > Software Update. Many (or all) of these are enabled by default. The last thing he needs is to go over his allotment because the OS downloads something for him.
  4. levander thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2011
    He's not getting along just fine. I spent every bit of the limited free time I had in late Nov/early Dec getting the CryptoWall virus off his computer. I finally got recovered his files like the night before the deadline for paying the Russian mafia doubled... CryptoWall is a virus done by the Russian mafia where they encrypt all user created files on your hard drive. Then they put links on your computer that are like go here and pay $500 for the decrypt key. It's a very professional piece of software that makes them millions. People who pay the ransom, by all reports, have been able to decrypt their files.

    Not a good thing not updating your PC...

    Thank for the replies so far guys. I don't have a chance to look into combo updates now, but should by tomorrow morning.

    With other suggestions, please let me know!

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