Three Ways to Reduce Your Bandwidth Use
As people around the world have been forced to stay home from work and school to slow the spread of COVID-19, there has been an ever-increasing demand on network infrastructure, leaving people frustrated with slower Internet speeds at home.
There are a few big bandwidth thieves you may not have considered and probably are regularly in action, now that the whole family is at home all day. It’s important to figure out what uses a lot of data and what doesn’t. Checking your email won’t do much, but if your kids are playing video games and watching Netflix while you’re trying to work, there could be a problem.
What is Internet bandwidth?
Understanding what causes slower Internet speeds can help you identify what daily activities you and your family participate in that causes problems, especially if you are fortunate enough to be able to work from home.
The maximum data transfer rate of an Internet connection and the measure of how much data can be sent in a specific period of time is what is referred to as bandwidth. In simple terms, Internet service with a higher bandwidth is faster and performs better than Internet service with lower bandwidth.
So, right out of the gate, if you live in a rural community it’s likely you have lower bandwidth than if you live in the city with fibre to your home. Here are a few ways you can stop chewing up your precious bandwidth at home.
Video streaming is dragging you down.
With the kids home from school, many of them are taking online activity to another level. Netflix, YouTube and any other video streaming services, along with video games and video conferencing with friends is chewing up your bandwidth and slowing down performance.
Streaming TV and movies use 1 gigabyte of data per hour for each stream of standard definition video and up to 3 gigabytes of data per hour for high definition video.
Check your streaming service to see how you can change your data usage settings. Netflix offers four data use settings, low, medium, high and Auto allowing you to limit your resolution and bandwidth use.
You can also adjust your settings to limit your output box so you aren’t streaming in 4k. For example, on Apple TV and Android TV devices they allow you to drop your output back down to 1080p to reduce your bandwidth use.
Video games are another big data hog, especially when you are downloading new games. You may want to ask the kids to save it for later.
Like listening to music while you work? Don’t stream it.
You probably don’t think much about bandwidth when you’re listening to your favourite playlist on Spotify or streamed from your favourite radio station online, but it’s eating up your bandwidth and slowing down your service.
If you want to conserve your bandwidth, stick to your iTunes playlist, mp3 files, or go old school and get out your CD player and disc library.
If you or your family are scrolling through Facebook and Instagram on a regular basis, or any other social media app that auto-plays video, your bandwidth is getting chewed up.
There are ways to change the settings on your social media apps to ensure videos never auto-play, and you aren’t uploading content in high definition.
Monitor your use to identify what exactly is consuming your bandwidth
Use your router to monitor your bandwidth. It takes into account data use from every device and allows you to determine what device is using up all the bandwidth. Is someone Face-Timing a friend, which is slowing down your Internet speed when you need to work? Your router can tell you who the culprit is and help you narrow down where your bandwidth is being used. Most routers with parental controls give you an option to limit Internet access to specific hours. If your children are avid gamers, you can always setup a separate network and throttle back the bandwidth to an appropriate level.
While there is no definitive timeline for how long we will be maintaining physical distancing, for now, having the whole family share bandwidth during the day is the new normal. These tools can help you maximize your Internet speeds while we do our part to flatten the curve.