How to block apps on Android from accessing the internet

Some Android apps access the internet too often, and you might not want that. Whether it's because they consume your data plan faster or they end up using too much battery, you might want to know how to turn off cellular data for specific apps in Android. Maybe you have other apps that you prefer to use offline, and you're wondering how to restrict apps from using data. Without further ado, here's how to restrict internet access on Android smartphones and tablets:

NOTE: In the first section of this tutorial, we show you how to block internet access to an app in Android 10 using a Huawei P20 smartphone. On other devices, such as Nokia and Samsung smartphones, you can only restrict background data using the default options from Android. If your Android falls into the latter category, check the second section of this guide. In it, we're showing you how to block apps on Android using a third-party app.

How to turn off cellular data for specific apps in Android

If you have a smartphone that runs Android 10, the operating system might offer you all the tools you need for the job. First, open Settings and go to Mobile network.

The Mobile network section from the Android Settings

In the Android Mobile network settings, tap on Data usage.

The Data usage entry from the Android Mobile network settings

Next, tap on Network access.

Android Settings - Tap Network access

Now you see a list of all your installed apps and checkmarks for their access to Mobile data and Wi-Fi. To block an app from accessing the internet, uncheck both boxes next to its name. If you only want to turn off the Wi-Fi access for certain apps, uncheck the Wi-Fi box for those apps, and leave Mobile data checked.

Android Settings - block apps from accessing the internet

By default, Android only shows you the list of apps that you installed. If you want the list to include system apps, tap the menu button from the top-right corner of the screen, and select "Show system processes."

Choosing to Show system processes in Android

You can then block internet access for system apps, too, although only for Mobile data and not to Wi-Fi. This is a restriction designed by Google that ensures your systems apps get connected to the internet, at least when you are connected to Wi-Fi.

Android Settings - Block system apps from accessing mobile data

When you are done blocking apps from accessing the internet on your Android device, close the Settings. When you open an Android app that you've blocked from accessing the internet, you get a notification like the one below. Do not tap Remove because you are going to remove this restriction.

An Android app is restricted from using Wi-Fi networks

Tap Cancel instead if you want to continue blocking that app's access to the internet and keep using it offline.

TIP: Did you know that Android also lets you put data limits for the apps you use, and that you can configure your device to automatically control how much data they use? For more details, check these two guides: How to check the data usage and limit it on Android and The Android Data Saver and how to enable it.

How to block apps on Android from using the internet with NetGuard (Samsung, Nokia, and other Android phones)

If you use a smartphone or tablet that runs an old version of Android (before Android 9 Pie) or a smartphone made by Samsung, Motorola, or Nokia, you might not have access to the settings we've shown in the previous method. In that case, your only option is to use an app like NetGuard, which acts as a firewall on top of the Android operating system. Install the app on your Android smartphone or tablet. If you need some help with that, read our guide on How to use Google Play Store to install apps and games for Android.

Start the app. Unfortunately, when you start it for the first time, it doesn't do anything unless you enable the NetGuard switch on the top, so don’t forget to do that before moving forward.

Enable NetGuard on Android

After you enable it, NetGuard informs you that it uses a local VPN to filter the internet traffic to block internet access for the apps you select.

The great thing about this app is that it doesn't send your internet traffic to a remote server, as other similar apps do. Tap OK to go to the next step.

NetGuard uses a local VPN to filter the traffic

Then, NetGuard wants you to set up a VPN connection to monitor the network traffic. Tap OK one more time.

NetGuard VPN connection request

NetGuard then asks you to disable the Android battery optimizations for it so that the operating system doesn't stop it from functioning in the background. Tap on OK, and follow the instructions.

Android battery optimizations should be disabled for NetGuard

On the Battery optimization screen that's loaded now, choose All apps, and find NetGuard on the list. Tap on it, select "Don't allow," and then tap OK.

Don't allow your Android phone to optimize NetGuard's battery consumption

The NetGuard app can now do its job correctly. Get back to it, and tap the Wi-Fi and Cellular icons for the apps you want to restrict from accessing the internet.

Restrict apps from accessing the internet, with NetGuard

When you do that, you see that their icons turn from green to orange. Those apps are now blocked from accessing the internet on your Android device.

How did you choose to block your Android apps from accessing the internet?

Now you know how to block apps on Android from going online. You've seen how to block apps from the internet both on devices with Data usage settings, as well as on devices that don't include these settings, like those made by Samsung and other manufacturers. We chose to recommend NetGuard because it has the most positive reviews on the Google Play Store compared to similar apps. Before you close this article, tell us about your experience and which solution worked for you.

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