Tips for Limited Data Plans

 

General Tips to Save Data:
The quick answer is not not have your computers and devices use up unnecessary data.   Here are some tips on how to prevent this from happening:

Metered Connection: Some devices will let you designate your internet connection as a Metered Connection.  This is especially good when you connect your phones & tablets to your network.  The original practice was for phones to use more data when connected to a WiFi rather than to use your paid plan data (for the phone).  a Metered Connection will limit the amount of data used.  Windows 10 computers also utilize this feature.

Save Data using a Metered Connection in Windows 10

Background Apps:  It may seem like your computer or devices is dormant but a lot of the time there are programs and applications running in the background.  These can use up your data.  Go into your settings and disable any applications don’t need to have running in the background.  It’s also a good idea to delete or uninstall any apps you no longer need or use.  I usually tell people to do a Google search to find the best method for their specific device.

The Cloud:  The cloud is used for file sharing & synchronization and backups.  It can also use up a lot of data.  Check to see if what you’re saving to the cloud is needed and how much data you’re storing.  It’s always recommended, check to see if using the cloud and your data plan is the way to go.

Smart TVs & Streaming:  As a general rule streaming video or using a smart TV will use a lot of data and isn’t advised on a limited data plan.  If your DirecTV or Dish TV receivers are connected to the internet be aware when you select an ‘On Demand’ show.  If you have to stream a movie or video you can change the settings to a lower quality and it won’t use as much data.

Example: Netflix has 3 settings to choose from:
· Good quality (uses up to 0.3 GB per hour)
· Better quality (uses up to 0.7 GB per hour)
· Best quality (uses up to 1 GB per hour, or up to 2.3 GB per hour if watching HD)

Viruses & Malware:  Keep your devices clean.  A virus or malware program can run without you knowing it and use up your data.

Windows 10:  When Windows 10 downloads updates it also tends to hog your internet bandwidth and slows down all the devices on your network.  You can help by changing the Active Hours settings so downloads won’t interfere with your normal activities.


Mysterious Data Usage

OK – I see a lot of people have issues being on limited data plans.  Data is ‘mysteriously’ used up and feel the Internet Service Provider is ripping them off.  In all the different cases I’ve looked at that’s only been true once and it was a Verizon Wireless Mi-Fi unit.  All the other cases were explained.

In most cases the customer didn’t want to accept that it was something on their end.  I’ve seen the neighbor’s hack the WiFi password and use all the data.  Other cases were resolved by fixing background apps, viruses & malware. system updates and email client corruption.

 

Mystery Internet Data Usage

Here are some situations I’ve encountered and their solutions:

Case: I’m using up all my data and I’m hardly on the internet.

Resolution:  Since my customer was using EXEDE I was able to login to the support portal to see what data was being used and what devices were attached to their home network.  I mentioned that he had about 7 devices attached.  He replied, “It’s the neighbor’s kids!”  Somehow the neighbors figured out his WiFi password and were using up all his data.  He changed the password to a more secure one and his data usage was back to normal.

 

Case: All of a sudden I’m using a lot of data and have to keep buying extra.

Resolution:  I went through my standard questions and ask what has recently changed? Have you added a new device or Smart TV?  The customer said no, everything is the same except for the high data usage.  I asked if they had checked for a virus or malware and the answer was no because my system is running great since I just replaced the hard disk drive and updated the OS.  I asked, “Have all the update finished downloading since you upgraded?”  The customer said “Yes – that was done offsite so it wouldn’t use my data.”  I followed up with what email are you using and the answer was gmail.  “Do you use an email client on the PC or just get it via webmail?”  The customer replied I use a client and it’s still downloading old messages.  There was almost ten years of email history that was being downloaded. Another mystery solved!

 

Troubleshooting:  If you’ve done everything you can and still have issues using too much data, I advise you contact your service provider.  They usually can tell you what type of data was used and when.  They usually cannot pin the usage down to a specific device.  Knowing what type of data is being used can help pinpoint the problem.