Preventing Razer Synapse from constantly phoning home

Razer intentionally cripples their products by making them flash rainbow vomit if you don't have their spyware program running at all times. Here's how to get around it.

Title image: This program's only purpose is to remember the color "pink." With the amount of data it consumed to do so, it could have instead streamed P!nk's 9 studio albums

The configuration software for Razer peripherals is called Synapse. It's a pretty tidy interface, the best I've used of the major manufacturers' config utilities. But I don't want to run it forever. I want to set up my keyboard and mouse, and then close the utility and keep my settings in some persistent manner, preferably saved in on-board memory on the device itself. Razer lets you do this, with some frustratingly inconsistent exceptions, for button assignments. But for some reason, absolutely no lighting settings can be stored on the devices. This still wouldn't be that big a deal if the LEDs just went dark (or even full-brightness white) when the software wasn't running. However Razer has made the STUNNINGLY, BOLDLY ANTI-CONSUMER decision to make all of their LED-equipped products flash rainbow vomit at you AT ALL TIMES if powered up and not connected to Synapse. Not logged in to Windows? Rainbow cycle. Computer not even turned on, but your powered USB hub is plugged in? Rainbow cycle. You notice Synapse is the largest consumer of network bandwidth and, frustrated, attempt to block it with the firewall? A) not going to work, Razer now owns your machine B) Rainbow cycle.

I've revisited this a few times in the past, anytime I look at what apps are transferring data over the network and see Synapse up there towards the top of the list, but in the past I've not been able to figure out how to fix my issues. Today I finally have.

There are two options. If you use button assignments in Synapse that cannot be saved on the device (such as, seriously, left and right scroll), set everything up in Synapse, close it and kill it, and then run it from within a sandbox using something like Sandboxie Plus. This gives you all the functionality of Synapse but allows you to retain control of the computer you've spent a bunch of money on: you can completely kill Synapse's ability to communicate with the network or other running services.

Luckily it seems like the macros I use can be saved in on-board memory, so with some minor sacrifices (not being able to switch lighting presets, using 'repeat scroll left' instead of 'scroll left' ???)I was able to get a profile that, aside from the lighting effects, worked stand-alone. If you can do this, i.e. the sole purpose of Synapse is to prevent the rainbow vomit, then you can uninstall Synapse and use Open RGB to manage the lighting. Open RGB can't do all the animations and event-triggered lighting that Synapse+Studio can do, but it also isn't designed primarily as a way of collecting data about you, so your call.

-Published 11 am Tue, Mar 14 2023-