Question Hiding your software usage from ISP


Feb 19, 2018
Basically, my friend thinks his ISP throttles his connection when he accesses Software like Steam and Youtube. He wants to know if there is a way to hide what software his ISP can detect him accessing to keep them from doing such. He doesn't want a VPN, even though that's not something a VPN does (to my knowledge, he thinks that's what it does..... -_-).

Is there a trustworthy program or method (outside of not using Steam or Youtube) to keep his ISP from throttling his connection? (If that's even something they can do, it seems highly unlikely as they would have to go out of their way to pinpoint individual IPs and determine when they're accessing certain platforms/programs).

Thanks for the info and sorry if it doesn't belong here, I figured Networking was the best place for this type of question, from what I remember from a course I took in college, this question definitely seems like Networking people would know the answer.


Jan 27, 2019

ISPs don't target specific IPs to throttle their speeds, that happens at a way higher level. Mr. Ajit Pai made it possible for this to be legal, it allows ISPs to charge more if users want higher speeds. It also means ISPs are able to throttle specific services, like Steam and Netflix. Your ISP can't know what you're exactly doing if you're using VPN, meaning they won't (read: shouldn't, as they're very much able to) throttle your speeds. It wouldn't surprise me if ISPs are already throttling encrypted data being sent, though.
You only see certain types of traffic being limited on mobile broadband. This is because the cell providers want to pretend they offer "unlimited" bandwidth. They quickly found out that video services use a lot of bandwidth especially if you were watching on a device that had a larger screen and could use higher definition video streams.

On more standard types of internet the ISP does not really care what site you use unless it involves illegal activity. It really doesn't matter if you downloading a copy of windows from microsoft or some game from steam. It is all traffic. If they really are concerned they just have a cap that says you can only transfer xxx gbytes/month. They generally don't care what uses up that quota.

The ISP is still a business they are selling bandwidth and they know very well that people watch online video and play games on steam. Who would pay extra for a higher speed connection if you could not use it.

The only time you see ISP really attempting to limit traffic is when someone massively abuses it. These tend to be the idiot torrent kids trading their stolen movies/games/etc.

The solution of course is a VPN but if a ISP is being idiots and limiting traffic for say steam why would then not limit VPN traffic also.