We hope that all of you reading this are in good health and good cheer and we hope that provides at least a momentary break from the monotony during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since you are stuck at home chances are you are doing a lot more on the Internet than you normally do and you are using more bandwidth. Nothing wrong with that but chances are you have noticed that your speeds or the quality of the video that you are watching has declined. 

Bandwidth has become a precious commodity as we are all stuck at home and using more of it. What was once thought of as something that was plentiful enough for everyone is no longer that way. Part of that has been a change in our technology which has made using video streaming easier and moving more of our lives online. It’s not your fault that this is happening, but there are some things that we can all do to help alleviate this issue.

Streaming Video

Chances are you watch video over some sort of streaming service like Netflix or Hulu or you are spending a lot more time on YouTube. You’ve got nothing better to do and it helps to keep you somewhat sane. The problem is that everyone else is doing that too. Video streaming requires a lot of bandwidth. This is not new, video streaming has used around 60% of all Internet traffic.

So, what can you do? The most obvious is to not watch streaming video, especially during peak times. What peak times are now is also completely blurred. For something more practical the best option is to reduce the quality of the video. Don’t get us wrong, watching something over the Internet in 4K or even 1080p may look great but by reducing the quality reduces the bandwidth that is consumed. 4K needs at least 15 mbps with best quality coming at 25 mbps and 1080p needs at least 5 mbps

Let’s face it, some of you might also just pull up some videos on YouTube as well for commentary.while you do something else (like cleaning your place). I am doing this as I write this. Do you need the best video quality for that? No, you don’t, and by reducing the quality you reduce the amount of bandwidth that is being consumed.

Social Media

Social media can be a huge data hog. It is constantly running and constantly consuming bandwidth and that is before you even open it up. Think about all of the notifications that you get. When you open it up how long does it take before you come upon a video? It probably doesn’t take long. What makes social media a bandwidth hog is that this video plays automatically.

The good news is that there are settings within platforms like Facebook and Twitter that allow you to control video playback. Twitter’s are fairly easy to change but Facebook’s are not. (Instructions can be found on this page).

Businesses

Some people reading this may be lucky enough to work from home and not be unemployed. That means that you need to communicate with other co-workers or with clients. Video conferencing has become the go-to with this and guess what, this requires a solid Internet connection and a lot of bandwidth. This needs anywhere from 128 kbps to 20 mbps.

Some simple things can be done to help alleviate this like not forcing people to keep an open session during working hours and to only use video chats when it is needed. On top of that, just simply calling someone on the phone using the cellular network rather than VoIP can also be done to help.

Some Others

There are some other things to consider to help reduce your bandwidth usage and much of this occurs in the background. Services like BitTorrent should be disabled, especially if you are using it to download illegal material. Besides being illegal it is using a lot of bandwidth on both the upstream and downstream links.

Next some processes on your computer can be bandwidth hogs while running in the background like Windows Update and Windows Mail. Chances are an update is not going to happen outside of the second and fourth Tuesday of the month (Patch Tuesday) so that can be disabled. With your email, if you are not expecting something it might be best to just check for new messages as needed, like once or twice a day for personal messages.

Also it would be a good idea to make sure that your computer is clear of adware, malware and other malicious programs. These programs can use a lot of bandwidth unbeknownst to the user. Make sure you have antivirus software and additional spyware or malware protection if needed. 

Don’t get us wrong, you need bandwidth to do what you need to do online and there is nothing more frustrating than waiting for a video to load, especially if it has already started. We are seeing bandwidth usage being curtailed as we all sit around and binge watch Netflix while sitting at home. We get it, there is not much else to do it seems. So, you can do your part and help reduce the amount of bandwidth you use and hopefully your neighbors will do the same. If we don’t, we hope that you have a book to read because if the Internet isn’t working you will need it.

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