As internet access becomes more available, our devices are expected to be connected at all times. Take, for instance, your smartphone – while there are probably a few apps that you can use without a connection, most of them are going to require network access in order to work. Not only that, but when you’re not using them, they’re still transmitting data and accessing the network without your knowledge, spending extra battery and possibly data, if you’re not careful. Luckily, today we’ll show you a way to remedy this by enabling or disabling network access for individual apps.
The app we’ll be using is called NetGuard, which you can download for free by using this Play Store link. NetGuard advertises itself as a “no-root firewall”, and that’s pretty much what it is. A firewall serves as a barrier between your device and unauthorized access, either by a third-party or an application, which is what we want. So, let’s get to it. Download and install the app, and after you open it, you should see something like this:
After agreeing to the warning, you should see a list of your installed apps. However, the app needs a bit of setup first to actually work. Start by enabling the switch at the top left:
A few warnings should appear, letting you know that NetGuard will be acting as a VPN for your traffic, in order to manage it:
The connection request will then appear, and you can just tap “OK” to proceed:
Next, depending on your version of Android, the app might ask you to disable battery optimizations for it. This is a feature of some versions of Android that allows apps to be stopped and killed at will to conserve battery. Since NetGuard needs to be running at all times to manage your connection, it needs this particular option disabled. It shouldn’t affect other apps – simply tap the “OK” button below:
This is a list of the apps on your device, including system apps, which is why you may not recognize a few of them. Find “NetGuard” on the list:
Then tap it, and select “Don’t Optimize”:
You should be taken back to the app. Now, you can finally start managing internet access for your apps. The way it works is fairly simple – next to each app on the list, there should be two icons. The first one relates to WiFi access, the other one relates to mobile data access, and you can tap each one of them to change their status. Green means it has internet access and the app doesn’t do anything. Orange means that access is restricted for that app:
If you restrict access and the icon turns orange, you should see another icon appear next to it. This indicates that the app has full internet access when the screen is on, but will have no access when the screen is off. Tap the app to find out more:
You can disable that behavior by toggling the “Allow when screen is on” option for each of the connection methods, which will mean that app has no internet access at all:
The option to totally disable internet access can be useful for certain things – for example, a game that constantly gives you ads but still lets you play offline. By disabling internet access for that app, you’d disable ads entirely. However, the main option is to disable access only when the screen is off, to conserve battery, data, and enforce your privacy. Going into the app settings, there are a few extra options that you may want to check out, but most of it is pretty specific to your network configuration:
NetGuard also allows you to monitor the connection attempts that each app tries to make if you enable the logging option. This can be useful to make sure that an app is trying to connect when it shouldn’t, so that you can disable misbehaving apps:
That’s about it for today’s lesson! As you can see, using NetGuard, you can easily disable internet access for any app, either only when the screen is off, or at all times. It’s pretty simple to use, requiring only a few taps to enable or disable the connection for that app in particular, and it works like a charm. For example, if you see an app in your battery stats that constantly seems to consume a lot of battery and you have no idea why, this could be a good way to diagnose it. Any questions or doubts? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below!