Guide to Understanding Internet Usage

The internet is integrated deeply into our lives. There is no doubt about it. We spend a lot of time surfing the web, streaming a video, playing a game, shopping for the upcoming season, making financial transactions, reading the latest articles on whichever subject we like, completing our work tasks on time, and so much more. We cannot imagine a single day without reaching out for our web-connected devices and casually browsing the search engine results. 

While having a good internet connection is important, understanding your data usage is the key to effective utilization of the given bandwidth. In other words, if you know your usage habits, you can fine-tune them to always have enough speed and data at your disposal. You can also find the perfect internet plan for yourself this way. Many broadband services like Cox internet offer different speed tiers to users based on their unique requirements. You can select the one that corresponds to your needs the best, only after you undergo a careful evaluation of your data usage patterns. This post will serve as your guide in this regard.  

Common Internet Usage Trends

There are different factors, which may affect your bandwidth usage. The time you spend online, the number of active users in your household, and the devices connected concurrently. Each of these metrics shows a directly proportional relationship to internet usage. For instance, if you spend seven to eight hours daily on the web, your data usage will be more, in contrast to someone who only stays online for three to four hours. Similarly, if you live on your own, you’ll need lesser data per day than someone who is a part of a large household of active internet users. How intensive your web usage is also matters here. The more devices you have connected to the internet at the same time, like a gaming console, a laptop, or a smart thermostat, the more data you will end up consuming and running out of. So, knowing these three factors is an essential step in analyzing your data usage.

Another major factor that counts into this whole process is the kind of activities you perform on the web or the programs that eat up data in the background. The following are the most common activities that an average user undertakes and the data consumed by each trend.

Video Streaming – Nowadays, people prefer watching their favorite movies, TV shows, music videos, and the rest of the entertaining content online. Streaming services and platforms have made it incredibly easy for anyone to get access to a whole library of digital titles with just a single click. How much data does video streaming require? Here’s a rough estimate. If you stream one hour of music or radio online, that takes up around 150MB of data. If you stream a half-hour of YouTube on the go, it will utilize 175MB of data. And, if you stream one hour of video in HD, that eats up 2GB of your overall bandwidth. This is just for one user. If there are multiple users streaming at the same time, the data consumption estimates will double and triple with each addition of user and connected device.

Cloud Storage & File-Sharing – Working online requires a lot of data exchange and transfer on the web. You have to constantly upload and download large files, which ultimately consumes a huge portion of your allocated bandwidth. Cloud services, like Dropbox (official website), Google Drive (see here), iCloud, and OneDrive offer the perfect platform for data sharing to users. Besides the regular impact that they have on your usage with each file transfer, some of these services also perform synchronization loops from time to time, which take up even more data in the background. If you download a 500MB sized file, it will use around 0.5GB of your monthly data allowance. So on and so forth.

Social Media & Gaming – Scrolling through social media feed is a regular part of our daily lives. Social media gives us the perfect chance to stay up-to-date with each other’s lives and ongoing world trends. Since it needs internet access to work, social media also eats up monthly data. Facebook, for instance, takes up 2.5GB of data per month per user, or 2MB of data per minute you spend playing a video on it. On the other hand, playing an online game doesn’t require too much data. You can expect to lose around 50MB per hour per device. But, if you download a newly-released game on your console, it will take up around 60GB.  

How Can You Effectively Manage Your Data Usage?

If your data usage habits are exceeding your allowance, you need to bring them back into balance or acquire an unlimited data plan from your provider. Check out these data-saving tips in that regard:

  • Stream or download videos in SD quality, which has a lower file loading size, instead of HD, which consumes more data packets.
  • Disable file-sharing applications and peer-to-peer programs like BitTorrent when you’re not downloading files. These can eat up data in the background.
  • Beef up your internet connection with proper firmware patches and security fixes. Viruses and unwanted entities can usurp your data under the hood, without you knowing, making you hit your cap quicker.

Wrapping Up

Data usage refers to the consumption of bandwidth packets when you do an activity online. Understanding data usage patterns for your household is important if you wish to optimize your web performance and make sure that you have enough internet data to go around by the end of each month.