Cell Data Useage


We have an application that runs on the Balena Fin (OS 2.77.0+rev1) and it connects to the Balena cloud using the Quectel EC25 cell modem (Twilio SIM).

I am trying to reduce data usage on our devices to minimize cell data use. There are some great posts here, here, and here about limiting data usage through the Balena configuration settings. Based on those posts, last week I configured two of our devices as follows (in the Device Configuration screen):

  • Disable VPN Connectivity Check
  • Disable logs from being sent to balena
  • Set the API poll interval to 12 / 24 hours
  • Disable VPN control

I am running a simple application that simply prints a counter value every 30 seconds.

I expected these devices with these configurations to use very little cell data. However, they have still been using 7-12MB of downloaded data, and 3-7MB of upload data per day, and I have no idea why. Any suggestions on where to look? Does maintaining a cell connection add significant overhead that is not accounted for in the earlier data usage posts? If so, can I reduce this overhead?


Hello @dstewart thank you for your question! We are working on providing updated information about the data needed on using balena (Supervisor, VPN, etc) on cellular connectivity.

Could you please confirm how Twilio charges you? by kilobyte consumed? How big are the messages you are sending? Do you use the VPN of balenaCloud?

Thank you for the speedy reply! We have deployments in various locations, and the cost of data varies a little by location - sometimes fixed, sometimes based on data usage.

Our devices typically have VPN enabled, and they typically send small amounts of data (maybe 4-20kB a few times per day). However, as I mentioned earlier, in this recent experiment, I disabled our data uploading code and tried to disable or severely reduce all Balena configuration knobs that should use data, but we still see significant data usage. I’m not sure if the Balena OS or cell connection overhead / maintenance code might use a lot of data?