Why is my Internet usage more than I expected?

There are too many reasons to list here why your Internet usage is higher than expected. The main idea to keep in mind is that your devices do not need your help to access the Internet. If a device is connected to the network and turned on, it transfers traffic whether or not you are using the device. The device is constantly checking for updates, synchronizing email and carrying out other tasks.

The challenge is to track down what is happening and correct the problem. This will require detective work on your part and possibly Internet searches to see if others are experiencing the same issue. Computing Services is unable to assist with the troubleshooting process. Consider enlisting the help of a knowledgeable friend, if needed.

Video, most especially HD video, generates a large amount of traffic (anywhere from 1GB to 4GB per  hour). If you do not watch video on an HD display or you find standard quality  acceptable, consider selecting a lower quality setting. It makes a huge difference in the reduction of Internet traffic.

Below are example situations that can result in large amounts of traffic. All of them are based on true events that happened at Concordia University.

  1. A person signed up for online sports video highlights. Every day, the computer downloaded the latest videos. After a couple of days, the Internet usage limit was reached.
  2. A person subscribed to high definition videos of the Olympics. The computer started downloading the videos, and after a few short hours, the Internet usage limit was reached.
  3. Online storage is convenient for backing up and sharing files online. The software installed on a computer for one well-known service had a bug that caused it to upload the same files over and over. After a couple of days, the Internet usage limit was reached.
  4. A bug in the software on a smartphone caused the phone to download a file over and over. After several days, the Internet usage limit was reached.
  5. A person purchased a new computer. After configuring the computer, the computer automatically began synchronizing pictures, music and other files from an online storage site where they had been stored by the old computer. After a couple of days, the Internet usage limit was reached because there were so many large files that were being transferred to the computer.
  6. A person spent an extended amount of time watching streaming TV shows and movies through a streaming service. By default, the quality was set to HD, and after several days, the Internet usage limit was reached. The individual was not watching on an HD display. They could have set the quality lower and enjoyed the same viewing experience for many more days.
  7. When a user clicks “Agree” to the End User License Agreement (EULA) of some “free” software, the user can be agreeing to let the software use the computer and Internet connection for its own purposes. A popular video communication program and a popular news highlights program are two examples of software that will use your Internet connection to share information with others. Strangers will be accessing the video call or news highlights video not through the main website but through the user’s computer. The company that provides the “free” service doesn’t have to invest in more Internet bandwidth or equipment, because the user is giving them a computer and an Internet connection for “free”. In other words, if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product.
  8. One person left their room early one day to participate in a university activity. They did not turn their computer off when they left. Software was running that allowed strangers from the Internet to access the computer all day. When the individual returned late that evening, the Internet usage limit had been reached.
  9. A person had a device that did not require a login. Other individuals used the device and with it, much of the person’s Internet. Always secure a device (e.g., computer, game console) with a password, if possible, to prevent others from using it without your knowledge or permission. If a password is not possible, you might need to physically secure the device by locking it or taking the power cord with you.
  10. A person purchased a huge game online for their game console. In the process of downloading the game, the Internet usage limit was reached after a few hours.
  11. A person had a cell phone, computer and game console. All of the devices were “turned off”, but a large amount of data was downloaded from the Internet. Many devices today don’t actually turn off, unless you perform special steps. Instead, the device enters low-power mode or standby mode. In this mode the device continues to run at low power and accesses the Internet for updates to software, synchronizes email and carries out other tasks.

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