If you work under the burden of ISP-imposed data limits, tracking “bandwidth vampires” using all of your valuable data will save you from excessive fees and hassles. Here’s where to look.
What are bandwidth vampires?
A few years ago, there was a lot of chatter about “energy vampires,” devices around the house that sucked in a lot of electricity even when they weren’t in active use.
One of the more significant examples of this problem, which attracted national attention at the time, was cable boxes – some units used more energy per year than refrigerators.
In the same vein – I guess we’re just going to double the vampire references today – bandwidth vampires are devices in your home that use data when you’re not actively using it.
Sometimes this use of data, even if it does not seem to be an active use on your part, is part of the functionality of the device and you will have to live with it. The second time is frivolous (or at least poorly timed) use and you will want to reduce it.
If you have unlimited internet, this article will ultimately be more interesting to you than anything else.
But for people who are concerned with limiting ISP data and who are worried they will get overcharged to go through those restrictions, looking for any wasteful use of data on their network is worth a look.
Locating vampires with bandwidth
Before we jump on the list of common (and often overlooked) bandwidth vampires in the house, we need to say this in advance by pointing out something crucial to your investigative efforts.
While we have extensive knowledge of computers, gadgets, and applications used in and around the home, there are simply too many variables between devices, services, and how they are configured to dismiss all possible things related to your home network. swallowing all your data.
If you read our list of potential culprits below and feel that nothing stands out as the likely cause of your problems, you can always roll up your sleeves and review the data yourself by tracking your internet usage.
In some cases, especially at the router level, this is the only way to figure out exactly which device on your network is responsible for your bandwidth issues.
Your ability to track router-level data usage is greatly limited by your router and firmware installed, but most newer routers have some kind of built-in functionality to help you navigate data usage by service type (e.g. Netflix, Steam, etc.) and individual devices. (e.g. your gaming computer, the new security camera you just installed, etc.)
Start your search with these common vampires with bandwidth
Although, as we just mentioned, there is an almost endless combination of devices and software that could do their best to break your monthly data limit, there are some common suspects worth looking at from the start – if for no other reason than to turn them off.
You might think, “Streaming devices use a lot of bandwidth? That’s nothing new. ” Obviously, if you use your Apple TV to watch hours of 4K video streams, it will use a lot of bandwidth because streaming HD and UHD videos is intense.
However, of all the things that surprise people when it comes to bandwidth vampires, we feel comfortable saying that streaming devices like Chromecast and Apple TV, as well as smart home devices like Google Nest Hub, are at the top of the list. . Of course, they use a lot of bandwidth when you’re actively streaming, but they’re also pretty hungry for data while they’re not working.
Most people just don’t realize how much these devices are losing, day in and day out, but when you look at the statistics it’s pretty surprising. The problem is that screen saver modes work 24/7 on most streaming devices and consume a lot of data.
In my home, for example, I have four Nest Hubs and five Chromecasts. Each of them, at rest, consumes about 450 MB per day. So with only one online, that’s 13.5 GB of inactive data every 30 days. With 9 different devices, it jumps to 121.5 GB. Fortunately, with an optical connection and no data limitations, this has never been a problem for me. But if I had a 1TB data limit, about 12% of my monthly limit would be chewed by inactive streaming and smart home devices. Don’t actively use Netflix or the like, just have your devices turned on all day.
While you can avoid the problem by turning off your devices when not in use, it’s quite inconvenient (and in the case of Home Hubs and other smart displays it nullifies the purpose of owning them).
Instead, we recommend that you adjust your settings. Although it varies from device to device, there are usually options to turn off high-resolution screen savers (Apple TV 4K screensavers are beautiful but very data-intensive) or replace slide show photos with something simple and low-resolution – a trick we recommend tame Using Chromecast Data .
Smart security cameras
Old school security cameras record their footage in local storage and consume bandwidth only when you remotely access the footage away from home.
While some newer smart security cameras also have local storage options, most of them – and certainly the most popular options like Google Nest cameras and Amazon Ring cameras – are cloud-based and quite bandwidth-intensive. It is important to consider whether or not your home Internet connection can adequately support smart security cameras.
Newer Nest cameras, for example, can use anywhere from 100 to 400 GB per month, per camera, because both uploads and downloads count as data limits — and cloud cameras upload a lot of data. So, if you’ve recently added cloud-based smart security cameras to your home network and are shocked that the bandwidth meter on your ISP’s dashboard shows you’re chewing your data at record speeds, this is a good place to explore.
While you won’t be able to fully tame the data usage for a cloud-based security camera, you should be able to make settings such as switching to data transfer only when motion or other similar settings are detected.
Windows, by default, uses a peer-to-peer system to optimize Windows updates. In short, Windows computers will connect together, like a single-purpose torrent cloud, to quickly share Windows update information over the Internet.
For people with limited bandwidth and data, it’s wise to turn off “Delivery Optimization” – with a small note. There are two types of delivery optimization, global (where you share with Windows computers everywhere) and local (where you share with Windows computers only on your local network).
Decide to use Delivery Optimization for your local network only and you will to save bandwidth, because one PC will download the update, and any other local Windows PC will pull the data from there instead of downloading it again.
While you’re at it, you might want to turn off automatic updates in general so you have time to update your computer when you have extra bandwidth to record.
Automatic game updates
Game sizes, especially for AAA titles, are just growing. Not only should you consider the size of the original download when storing your game library – people with limited connections should definitely not try to download a large Steam or console library at once – you should also consider updates.
Even small (in terms of features and bug fixes) updates for many games are large. Updates in Call of duty Franchises, for example, often have 10-30 GB per update or even higher. Update for April 2022 Call of Duty: Warzone it weighed 40GB.
If you don’t actively play the game and constantly monitor your data consumption, there’s no good reason for one or more games to pull data from month to month if you don’t even play the game. Burn 4% of your 1TB data limit Call of duty an update you won’t even play doesn’t make much sense.
To avoid this trap, we recommend that you enter the settings menu of your game clients and on your consoles to turn off automatic updates. It’s a compromise, to be sure, if you forget to update and really want to play the game for a few months from now, you may have to sit there while it updates, but on the other hand, you won’t lose your data.
We separated this because it can happen to any application or device and is not specific to Windows or games.
Fortunately, this is relatively unusual, but when it happens, it is quite frustrating. Sometimes an app or device will download an update and fail to install it, or some other error will occur. Instead of simply giving up, the same automatic trigger that made him download the update in the first place notices that the expected update isn’t complete and repeats it all over again.
If you’re really at a loss as to what sucks up all your data, dig through your router like the one above in the section on locating bandwidth vampires on your network to narrow it down to a specific device that’s interfering with your connection. Then look on the device for anything that tries to update anything that might be stuck in the loop. These include operating system updates, large application package updates, game updates, and so on.
And if you’re really stuck in a narrowing, don’t forget to check for updates to the apps or games you’ve removed. Sometimes partial or incorrect removal of the application can leave it in a kind of limbo where the accompanying update application continues to work hard trying to do its best, despite the removal of the parent application.
Fortunately, malware that chews your bandwidth is relatively rare, but you shouldn’t assume it’s not the source of your problems.
If you’ve ruled out culprits like cloud security cameras, major game updates, and the like, then it’s worth checking once again that your computer is free of malware and even your router. Not all malware is bandwidth intensive, but some forms are.
Scanning for malware and tracking security updates will help protect your individual devices and home network.
If none of the usual bandwidth vampires are to blame, we return to the basics – reviewing router logs and checking individual devices and applications – to determine the source of all this data.