Data Caps are limits on how much data you can transfer on your Internet connection. Generally, when a person exceeds their data cap limit, they are charged by their Internet service provider (ISP) a higher rate for further data use. Another remedy that ISPs use when a person exceeds their limit is bandwidth throttling, where they restrict the transfer rate of the data. This means slower download and upload speeds. Not good.
Data caps suck. There is no nice way to put it. They suck, and the ISPs know they do. That’s why you will often encounter data caps by other names. Be on the lookout for terms like fair usage policies, fair access policies, usage-based billing, and band caps.
There are all kinds of arguments in favor of and against data caps. The ISPs will tell you that their pricing of Internet data mirrors every other industry out there: if you want more, then you pay more. They justify their imposed limits by stating that it manages congestion, brings lower prices to light Internet users, and spurs innovation. Whether you can swallow these reasons or not, it’s important to know what to do if your ISP does employ data caps so that you never have to run into the problem of being throttled, or worse, your Internet getting cut off.
Stop watching movies on Amazon and Netflix in 4K
Streaming is one of the most effective ways to use up bandwidth and exceed data caps. According to Consumer Reports, streaming 4K content with high dynamic range can eat up 7-10 GB of data per hour. The best thing you can do to limit your data usage without sacrificing time spent online is to ditch the 4K. You don’t need it. You can watch movies in HD and still not really notice the difference in resolution.
Transfer backups of music and video files to a hard drive
Using bandwidth to watch or listen to saved media is a waste. You are much better off transferring that media to an external hard drive and playing it from there. That way, you are not using the Internet to access files that don’t really change that much anyway.
Check your wireless router settings to ensure it isn’t open to the public
This is kind of a no-brainer. You don’t want neighbors using your Wi-Fi connection because they would eat up all your data. And they’re not even paying for it! Maybe you’re just a nice person and want to share your Internet, but most of us need to be smart about our data usage.
Turn off your Wi-Fi when you stop using your device
Our devices are constantly connected to Wi-Fi. They utilize this connection to perform background updates while we aren’t using them. This, of course, uses up data. You can avoid this by simply turning off the Wi-Fi on your device. No unauthorized downloads or updates can happen that way. Then, you can simply log onto any other public Wi-Fi network and perform the downloads and updates there. Voilà! Simple fix!
Use the Data Saver extension for Chrome
Be sure to download the Data Saver extension for your Chrome browser. The extension reduces data usage while you browse the Internet by using Google servers to optimize the pages you visit. Basically, enabling the extension allows Chrome to compress pages you visit before downloading them. Be aware that if you are using private connections (HTTPS) or the incognito tab feature, pages will not be optimized. Still, this is a great, simple tool to help you conserve data.
Change your browser settings so that all plug-ins are click-to-play
Don’t you hate it when you are browsing Facebook or visiting a website and videos start playing loudly when you have no intention of watching. Not only is it annoying, but it also uses up data needlessly. You aren’t even watching the video! There’s a simple fix to that. Simple go to your browser settings and change plug-ins to click-to-play. Now you will have to click on the video to watch it. Easy peasy.
Change settings on your device to lower video playback resolution
As an addendum to the 4K tip above, you can also change the settings on your device to lower the playback resolution of certain video files. For example, YouTube videos can be viewed at a wide range of resolutions. But, how big of a noticeable difference can this make on a small iPhone screen? Not much. Consider watching videos at 720p as opposed to 1080p. You’ll use less data to load the video and still not notice a big change in video quality.
Internet data meters like GlassWire and your own ISPs Data Usage Meter can be used to keep track of how much data you have used. Also, there is Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor, which measures Internet usage for computers and in your entire network. Monitoring your data usage in this way allows you to know exactly how close you are to exceeding your limit.
Despite the annoyance of data caps, these simple tips and tricks can help you avoid being throttled or cut off for exceeding your data caps.