If you have a limited amount of Internet bandwidth a month, maybe because you’re on a mobile data plan, learning to save internet bandwidth usage can be quite difficult. So many websites and apps today are designed to use as much data as possible—from HD videos to even web-based spreadsheets. The following tips can help you keep your bandwidth in check.
Bandwidth-Saving Tip #1—Install A Monitor
An old management expression says, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” and the same thing applies to reducing your Internet bandwidth usage. Without some sort of monitor, you can’t know which steps are most effective at saving your bandwidth.
There are lots of bandwidth monitors out there. Windows includes a very basic one by default—go to the Network Settings screen for your version of windows and double-click on the the connection you’re currently using. It will show you the number of bytes sent and received since you last rebooted the computer or restarted the connection.
However, what you really need is a monitor that can match your billing cycle (usually monthly) so you don’t have to manually log your totals from every day or reboot your computer every month. Most connection monitors are free, so look for one you like and which doesn’t include any adware.
A network monitor can:
- Find out and monitor how fast your Internet connection is.
- Find out and monitor how much Internet traffic YOU really use.
- Verify your ISP charges and make sure you get what you pay for.
- Detect a suspicious network activity on your computer.
- Perform simple network tests using network troubleshooting commands like ping and trace route.
- Notify you about excessive Internet usage.
Bandwidth-Saving Tip #2—Do The Math
Almost all Internet connection plans come with a certain amount of bandwidth. Using that bandwidth costs you nothing extra. Check your bill, account website, or call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to find out how much bandwidth you get included with the plan. Check also whether your bandwidth usage is calculated by both download and upload bytes or just upload bytes. (Home and mobile plans usually calculate both; large business plans and web hosting sometimes only counts upload.)
Take the number of bytes you get per billing period (usually a month) and divide it by the number of days in the plan. For example, if you get 10 GB a month on your mobile plan, you get 0.33 GB (333 MB) a day at no extra cost to you. If you can keep your daily usage under that amount, you won’t have to pay expensive overage charges.
Bandwidth-Saving Tip #3—Find Bandwidth Hogs Part 1
Some programs on your computer will use significantly more bandwidth than others. For example, an Internet chess game will use much less bandwidth than World Of Warcraft. The worst offenders are, of course, video download apps and file sharing apps.
Start your computer up and open your bandwidth monitor. If you notice that your computer is using bandwidth constantly even though you’re not currently using the Internet, start shutting down programs one by one until you find the ones using the Internet. Consider leaving them shut off by default except for when you need them.
Also closely monitor how your Internet usage changes when you use certain apps.
See this interesting article about Skype slowing your internet down.
Bandwidth-Saving Tip #4—Malware Interlude
If your Internet is constantly being used but you can’t find the program which is using all that bandwidth, you likely have malware. Many computer viruses spread by connecting to other computers and hacking into them, which can often require a lot of bandwidth.
If you think your computer is infected, you will either need to run a malware-removal program or reinstall Windows from scratch.
You can also check to see if there are any outgoing connections yourself by using the netstat command.
Bandwidth-Saving Tip #5—Find Bandwidth Hogs Part 2
Some websites you visit will also use significantly more bandwidth than others. For example, GMail will hardly use any bandwidth but YouTube can wipe out your daily no-extra-cost limit with a single high-definition (HD) video.
It helps a lot if you use a bandwidth monitor that can put stats in your task bar. Just visit your normal sites and use them the way your normally would while watching the bandwidth monitor for bandwidth spikes. If you see them, look for ways to reduce your bandwidth on the site—for example, YouTube will let you watch lower definition video files that use much less bandwidth, or you can use automatically synced bookmarks to bookmark interesting sites on your phone (where bandwidth is expensive) and then look at them at home (where bandwidth may be cheaper).
Bandwidth-Saving Tip #6—Disable Flash By Default
One major source of high bandwidth use is Adobe Flash. It’s not actually Flash that’s the problem—it’s that most Flash-based apps use lots of bandwidth. A simple solution is to open your web browser’s configuration and tell it to “disable plugins until clicked”. That means no more Flash autoplay—if you want to use a Flash app, you just need to click on it.
But for all the other Flash apps that waste your bandwidth, they’ll be disabled and won’t use a single byte of bandwidth.
Bandwidth-Saving Tip #7—VOIP Is Using Bandwidth
Not many people realize that VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) actually uses your internet connection and bandwidth. The average VoIP 4 minute call can use approximately 2 MB. This is fine if you have the bandwidth to spare but if you’re using your phone all day, the megabytes can really add up.
Bandwidth-Saving Tip #8—Take Advantage Of Quality OF Service
Router based quality of service doesn’t change how your traffic travels over the Internet and it can’t give you more bandwidth. What it can do is prioritize traffic on your home network so that important traffic—like voice-over-IP phone calls and online games—gets transmitted before unimportant traffic—like the 150 GB bittorrent file with all 29 seasons of the various Star Trek TV shows your son is currently downloading.
Bandwidth-Saving Tip #9—Secure Your Connection
Network security is important as it keeps your precious data safe, it also will save internet bandwidth usage and stop most unwanted connections. There are various ways to see who is using your internet but why not keep them out from the start. Stop people from using your internet bandwidth by improving your network security.
Your next door neighbor might be hacking into your Wifi and downloading large files through your internet connection. You never know.
Keeping your bandwidth in check is like going on a new diet—it’s hard for the first few days, but once you get used to it, it becomes a habit. Just remember to keep checking your bandwidth monitor from time to time to make sure you’re not accidentally snacking on a few too many YouTube videos.