As you may know, bandwidth refers to the amount of data a given internet connection can handle transmitting at any one time. Think of your wifi as a flexible pipe. The less data coming through the pipe, the faster it is delivered. The more data coming through the pipe, the slower it becomes, eventually to the point of drastically reducing your network’s performance. So what are some of the wireless activities that often cause blockages? Let’s take a look down the tube.
The ever-growing cloud
Data storage via the web, also known as cloud computing or simply “the cloud”, has become synonymous with file storage and sharing during this digital age. Dropbox, iCloud from Apple, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive are just a few of the popular online storage services that have changed the data storage game. However, these services often automatically back up your files, pulling available bandwidth and slowing down your network without you even knowing.
You can stop this background bandwidth siphoning by turning off automatic data backups or restricting which of your files are downloaded to your device for offline access (or both).
People (from outside your home)
“What’s your wifi password?”
It only makes sense that one of the main culprits of a slowed down network is other users. Whenever friends and family come over, this is probably one of the first questions out of their mouths. However, they might not be the only people trying to hop on your network. Make sure to always keep your network password protected so that any unwanted users (such as your wannabe hacker neighbors) are locked out.
Whether it be from pop-ups while you stream video content on the web, downloading music, or a suspicious email you may have opened without realizing, malware is pesky harmful software that no one wants to accidentally download. Another sneaky stealer of bandwidth because of its ability to run hidden in the background, malware can be prevented by downloading an antivirus protection software beforehand, or a malware system cleaner (such as Malwarebytes Free) if your system has already been infected.
Automatic system and application updates
Much like automatic cloud backups, background updates can steal network bandwidth in the (surprise) background. While these updates are indeed important for your devices to keep functioning optimally, the downloads can often be frequent and sometimes very large. Make sure to go into your devices’ settings and change to manual updates if you’d like more control over when your bandwidth is used for updating.
This includes system update settings for desktop or laptop computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, as well as any other network-connected devices you may own.
Music has long since changed from the days of iPods and mp3 players. Music streaming platforms offer amazing selections of music right at your fingertips, but require a constant pull from your network’s bandwidth supply. However, you can circumvent this in an ironically traditional manner because top music platforms (like Spotify) give you the ability to download your favorite music for offline listening that doesn’t require an internet connection.
Have you ever wondered why you can watch video after video on social media with often no buffering delay? This is because apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook store video content data in the background before you even view them as a way to shorten loading times. Disabling auto pre-loading of videos in your application’s settings will prevent unwanted bandwidth usage.
People (from inside your home)
You share more than just a living space, electricity, and water with the people you live with. Whether it be family or roommates, it’s more often than not that people are using the internet when they’re at home, and sometimes with more than one device at once (we know you’ve scrolled your Instagram feed while watching Netflix)! There’s only so much a wifi connection can manage, and gaming, streaming video, downloads and video chat (like FaceTime) are all activities that will slow down the wifi for everyone else. This is one where there isn’t a true solution, but just try to keep everyone mindful of not hogging ALL the bandwidth ALL the time!
As you might have expected, the biggest bandwidth pirate of all is streaming video! Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and the many other video streaming services are the primary culprits of large bandwidth usage. We all love binge-watching, and in some homes more than one person is doing it at a time! Reducing HD streaming video quality will lessen the toll those season crushing binge-watch sessions have on bandwidth usage.
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