10 Ways to save bandwidth Surfing

May 22, 2008 - By

Recently my brother found himself at a summer camp sharing a limited satillite internet connection with several other internet users armed with laptops. When the hourly allotment of bandwidth was exceeded the connection speed suffered huge. We started to think up ways to be byte-conscious.

When I started brainstorming ideas to save bandwidth I thought I would have like two or three points, but I guess I’m a lot nerdier than even I could have known.

1) Set auto Disconnects Control Panel > Internet Options > Connections > the settings for that conenction > advanced > Check “Disconnect if Idle for more than” maybe 5 min or so.

2) Turn off superflous media – Think about it, if someone’s home page is msn.com (which I think is default on IE installs), then they have to download all those images for every inane article about Tom Cruise and weight loss… Control Panel > Internet Options > Advanced > Multimedia > turn off animations, images and sounds… this sounds harsh, but you will see where image boxes are and I think you can right click > Show image. I would show your users how to do this, sometimes they may want the images on auto (or maybe there’s some way to toggle it per page, I dunno I’ve never used it). Multimedia is the biggest source of bandwidth on most pages. I hope that animation bit includes flash…

3) Avoid Unnecessary or Large downloads – No bittorrents / downloading of media / online gaming, discourage file sharing on IM

4) Avoid Streams – discourage media streaming, skype, youtube, imeem and other audio or webcam transmissions. If users have to upload some video / audio it might be a good idea to set up a schedule. Ie. AJ can be a media uploader from 6 – 7, Johnny from 7 – 8, etc. This is another huge source of bandwidth.

5) Send Smart Emails – there are other ways to make emailing more efficient. Maybe instead of emailing people one at a time to tell them the same stuff, group email (it means less responses though). As an email alternative set up twitter accounts and blogs and tell all your people they can track you from these. These can even be updated by SMS on your cell phones.

5.5) Receive Smart Emails – Tell people to stop sending attachments and forwards. Also, if you get them, don’t open them. If you don’t bring the email to browser that bandwidth isn’t eaten. Maybe create a new folder to check when there is more bandwidth. The video of the cat jumping into the wall will be just as funny and applicable when the internet rationing summer is over.

6) Clean Home page – set home pages to Google.ca – this is about the cleanest smallest page ever. Compare that to something like yahoo and you download a lot less stuff for the browser to read. Your home page is your most visited, it should be light (in your browser Tools > Internet options)

7) Almalgomate your web 2.0 pages – are you checking all of your online accounts ie. Flickr, Facebook, Myspace, twitter etc? Setting up something like Netvibes might help you combine these all in one place like this http://www.netvibes.com/axiomaudio

8) Better yet, start an RSS Reader – Most modern sites now have RSS feeds. You can follow your facebook news feed, digg news, weather, and blogs with RSS. For example, AJ has a blog at http://albertaaj.blogspot.com/- rather than view that and load all the images and page elements you can visit his RSS http://albertaaj.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default – but rather than read it here you can subscribe to it in an RSS reader. Do you have a Gmail account? If so then you already have Google Reader at your service (linked at the top left) Click the Add Subscrition and paste that feed into the feild. Presto. With RSS readers like this (and there are more, I think in-browser and Outlook are two other common examples) you can read your web content all in one place – and without unnecessary page elements taking up bandwidth.

9) Turn off System internet use where possible – Check out what processes are running in your taskbar and task manager (ctrl + alt + delete > processes). Turn off ones that search the internet for updates, turn off Windows auto update, close any widgets or sidebar items that are also getting web information. This also includes closing programs like email clients that automatically access the internet periodically. Just check it when you need it. If you’re not getting email attachments or downloads this means you can also update spyware and antivirus less often as you’re less vulnerable. (but I take no responsibility if your system bites it!)

10) Make sure you’re caching – make sure your system isn’t redownloading content every time you visit pages. Control Panel > Internet Options > Browsing History > settings > I would set it to automatically, but if you’re being a hero you could say never. I think you should increase your disk space for cache to the maximum recommended (250MB for me) and beef up your history say to 50 days.

These ten tips make good general sense, but sometimes you need to be able to go online and enjoy the things you miss most from home. I think this is where planning a schedule will help. Maybe each of you has a night of the week to do some of the bandwidth-heavy things that aren’t the best on shared and limited resources!

Have any ideas of your own? I’d love to hear more on this topic!


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This post was written by ArleyM