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How do I keep my usage under control?

Did you know some applications you use could be driving up your usage even when you’re not using them? You want to stay within your budget and not go over usage caps, so check out these tips for keeping unexpected usage hogs under control.

Password protect your wireless router/network

If you have a wireless router/network that is not password protected, someone may be accessing it without your knowledge and running up your usage. Your router’s user manual will tell you how to password protect your Internet service and guide you through the configuration settings necessary to password protect your router/network.

Limit file sharing programs

Some popular peer-to-peer file sharing programs (e.g., Bit Torrent, U Torrent) will upload shared files to others, by default, as fast as your connection will allow, driving up usage. This activity is often invisible to you. Check the program’s preferences and ensure the upstream Internet is limited. You will continue uploading the file until it has been deleted from your file sharing program’s queue, even if you are done downloading. 

Be aware of streaming video/music use

Turn off streaming video/music players while you’re away from your computer. Leaving them running can generate usage more than you know.

Watch for automatic settings

Be aware of what your devices are doing. Unless you change their settings, some websites and devices will automatically download/upload as a default setting or you may have settings turned on that you don’t really need or want. 

For example, Facebook may automatically play videos, so if someone’s page has a video on it, you may end up streaming that video. You can change that setting easily (see How to stop videos from playing automatically on Facebook or visit https://www.facebook.com/help/1406493312950827).

Most iOS devices back up to the cloud automatically, often in the middle of the night. Do you really need a full back up of your device each night? You can adjust how often your devices back up in your device settings menu.

Stop videos playing automatically on Facebook

Here’s how to stop videos from playing automatically on your Facebook News Feed. While on Facebook on your computer:

  • From the top right of Facebook, click the arrow  to select Settings
  • Click Videos in the left menu
  • Click the dropdown menu next to Auto-play Videos and select Off

The settings may be located on a different spot on tablets and other devices.

Control your video quality

The amount of usage from a video can vary greatly depending on the video quality. The greater the video quality; the greater the usage needed. Websites like YouTube & Netflix stream videos anywhere from 144p (lowest) to 1080p (highest) and offer the option to change the video quality. Netflix provides instructions for controlling your video quality here https://help.netflix.com/en/node/87 and Youtube provides it here https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/91449?hl=en&ref_topic=3014328. Unfortunately, not all websites allow you to change the quality of the videos you are viewing.

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