Lately bitten by hefty broadband bill or affected by poor quality of broadband at certain hours of the day? It could be,  your internet connection is consuming excessive data or bandwidth which you may or may not be aware of. If you are on internet plan which has monthly cap or set monthly usage allowance, you have to monitor that your usage does not exceed the monthly download limit otherwise you would have to pay more for the additional usage.

Even when you are using a broadband package which offers unlimited downloads you should note that the fair usage policy of your provider can affect the quality of broadband, when your device is engaged in downloading huge amount of data during certain hours of the day (peak time).

Internet Service Providers say that their traffic management or traffic shaping targets only the heavy users at peak hours and only P2P file sharing (like torrent) is affected during these hours. For faster downloads of large files like movies, it is generally suggested that users should postpone these activities to non-peak hours like night or early morning hours.

Here are some simply ways that can help you manage and reduce the data usage:

Watch your data usage

If your package has set monthly usage allowance like 10 GB or 20 GB, monitor your usage periodically. Log in to your account or use usage monitors installed on your device to find out how much data is left for your usage for the rest of the month.

Mobile broadband users need to be more alert on usage as mobile data is more expensive than home broadband. Fortunately, they can benefit from usage alerts that they get on their mobile phones so they can monitor usage easily.

Optimise your device

These tips would improve speeds as well as reduce bandwidth usage:

  • Clean up your PCs/Macs and mobile devices off malware, viruses and spyware.
    These unwanted programs could be downloaded on your systems from the web without your notice, yet would be helping remote systems to use your device and your broadband connection for file transfers.
    If your current internet security software does not remove these viruses, don’t hesitate to buy new, effective one to clean your system off malware.
  • Make your internet connection secure
    Make sure that your PC has firewall turned on and unauthorised access from remote users is blocked.If you use WiFi on your device, make sure that your access to WiFi network is secured with encrypted, very strong password so others cannot crack your password or hack your device to use your data.
  • Install the latest OS on your device
    Upgrade your system to the latest OS as this will make it faster, more secure and easier to use. If you use very old PC, many of the latest applications may not work on them due to the out-dated OS and this could be the time for you to buy the new system though it may cost a few hundred pounds.
  • Turn-off auto update
    You can turn-off auto update feature on all software on your devices including OS, anti-virus and other installed applications as these activites consume large amount of data everyday. Instead, you may opt for manual update, so you can select and switch on particular update when necessary.
    Especially, mobile broadband users should use manual update feature so they can save mobile data and update the apps using the less expensive WiFi broadband. Likewise, turning off automatic notifications, google map and push emails on mobile devices could also save mobile data.
  • Use light browser
    We recommend that Google Chrome is the best browser to use since it is faster than other browsers. According to Google, its latest mobile version of Chrome helps users save 50%  bandwidth.
    Make sure that your web browser version is up to date.
    Remove unwanted add-ons and extensions as these extra features could slow down the page loading time as well as increase data usage.However, some extensions like adblock which is compatible with most popular browsers are quite helpful in improving browsing experience as well as reducing bandwidth usage.

Tips for heavy downloaders

  • Download films, big files etc at night or during off-peak hours. You save time due to faster download speeds as well as money (for example: some ISPs offer free usage between midnight and early morning).
  • If you use or share cloud storage like Dropbox or other such applications, keep an eye on what is being uploaded as this is nothing but data usage.
  • If possible, download and upload the files in zipped format. Unless it is necessary, share the photos and videos in low resolution which could save hundreds of MBs while transfering.
  • If your are a tablet/smartphone user, download and keep only the apps which you use so you need not update unnecessary apps. To save mobile data, use WiFi for downloading and updating apps.

Save data while streaming videos and audios

  • Instead of watching your favourite videos repeatedly on sites like YouTube, download the videos and save them on your hard disk so you can watch them later. There are programs and add-ons available that help you download videos from the web (for example: Youtube downloader).
  • When you watch youtube videos, use lower resolution version if you want to save data or your broadband connections is slow. You can also reduce the number of streaming videos to save the bandwidth usage.
  • DVD and HD movies can take up 10’s of GBs so it requires more time and data to download them from internet. Buying them in the shops is indeed better option.

General tips to save data while surfing the net

  • Visiting websites that have high resolution images, large sized pictures, too many advertisements run by javascript and streaming videos which you have no control over would consume more data than other sites. Avoid frequent visits to such sites or it is a good idea to save web pages with static content which you may like to read later.
  • Except the active browser, close other browser windows and applications which could be consuming data in background without your knowledge.
  • While surfing on your mobile devices, switch to mobile version of the websites. Likewise, modify the apps settings so that background apps are turned off automatically.
  • Video conference via webcam or VoIP calls also consume lot of internet data. Before using them, make sure that your existing package offers enough data to suit your needs. Some applications would be transfering videos in HD, so carefully use them or try to limit the usage to save data.
  • Make sure that you have turned off your broadband connection, when you don’t need internet access.
  • Protect your device with a password, so noone can use it without your knowledge.

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