Saturday, April 23, 2011

Few tips on how to save your internet quota

Is your workplace one of those places where restrictions on internet browsing has been imposed? And, is there a restriction on the amount of bandwidth you consume per day or week? Then better get yourself accustomed to using it [bandwidth] thriftily and wisely. Apart from that, it could be very useful for people with limited broadband packages. This article gives a few tips that would help your cause.

Look out for:

'Heavy' sites! Websites with loads of graphics, flash animations, streaming video/audio are the ones to lookout for. Sites classified as entertainment, news, gossip, etc often fit into this category. Occasionally, web sites with pages that refresh automatically every few seconds, such as Cricinfo could consume a lot of data although not necessarily identified as 'heavy'. Richly developed/designed web sites like Facebook too transmit more information between the user and the web server although unnoticed, in order to provide the user with a better browsing experience.

When browsing:

At times, our ignorance itself could be a reason. One such example is the Google Image Search. If you search for a certain term which yields hundreds of results and scroll down to the end of the result page, this will end up loading all the images in the result. But, if you were to scroll down page by page, images below are loaded only upon scrolling. Another instance is clicking on audio/video links which are linked or hosted on an external site, although embedded in a not-so-heavy web page which you are viewing. Streaming audio & video relatively consume much more data irrelevant of where it's played; in a flash player window or a popped-up media player. People who use web based free email services – Yahoo, Gmail, etc – tend to download large attachments in their emails without further thinking. But be aware that this could gobble up your quota, as any download of this nature is done over HTTP. A cheeky little solution is given below ;)


Of course, intranet web applications and your company's / organisation's website and web based email will be excluded from quota usage if hosted internally.

What you could do:

Most content on a web page is not needed especially if you're reading an article. The flashy graphics and irritating advertisements are not the kind you'd often like viewing. So, you could stop the web page loading further once the content needed has been loaded. To do this, simply hit the 'Esc' key or click on the button next to the address bar. Later if there's an image you need to see, right click on the empty image box and click 'Show Image / Show Picture'. You might find this operation to be much quicker in Firefox than Internet Explorer. Disabling the loading of images on a web page will save a heap of quota, but you could view only the textual content of a web page. To disable image loading in Firefox, go to Tools -> Options -> Content and uncheck "Load images automatically". In Internet Explorer 8, go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Advanced and uncheck "Show pictures" under "Multimedia". The paths and/or option names will slightly differ and vary depending on the browser versions.

If you're the type of person who checks the latest news and events happening around, visiting the relevant website(s) periodically might not be the best idea. Instead, you could subscribe to the relevant web site's RSS feed and manage it as a bookmark in your browser. These RSS feeds will display summarised lists of content (such as the titles of news stories) and you may view the entire article by clicking on the link to the related web page. View images below.

Bookmarks in Firefox

Feeds in IE

Remember me mentioning about rich websites consuming more data? Well, a neat but not so user friendly alternative is to use the mobile versions of such sites if available. Most of the frequently accessed websites on the net have their mobile versions. Some examples are Gmail, Yahoo, Cricinfo, Facebook & Twitter. These versions are designed for use on mobile devices and hence are very light-weight although with lesser functionality.

And the 'cheeky' solution for downloading big attachments; forward your email to your office email account if it’s hosted internally and save the attachment to your PC from there. This will cost you nothing except for the bandwidth consumed during the usage of the web mail service. Staying in the topic of web mail, in case you need to check your Gmail or Yahoo mail accounts frequently, better install the relevant toolbar. This way (given that you're logged in), you could get notified of any new mails along with the subjects.

Gmail notifications in Google toolbar

Obviously this is not everything and there are many more workarounds and practices you could adopt. While some might find this an added burden to their [internet] surfing behaviours, once got used, it will be negligible. Same as turning off the light before you go to sleep. After all it's your choice.