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How to Use Less Data on Satellite Internet--for non-satellite users, too!

 
master steward
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This tread is for posting ideas on how to reduce the amount of data that accidentally/unnecessarily gets spent when on satellite internet/data plans.

My satellite plan gives 5 gigabytes of data to use per month, with 5 additional GB between the hours of 2am and 8am. For the last few months I've been running out of data a good 5-10 days early and having to go to dial-up speeds (or fork out copious amounts of money for more gigs), which can be rather frustrating. I've set out this month to try and find as many ways of reducing unnessesary data usage as possible. I figure there are other people in the same boat as me, and if so, this thread is for you!

One thing I found to do was to not allow any program to automatically update. Here's a tutorial on how to Stop Windows 10 from automatically updating your PC - CNET. Here's one on how to Disable Adobe Updates

Another thing I did was go to my firewall and stop everything except my browsers from accessing the internet, so now Java will stop trying to update and random programs will stop accessing the internet. Here's a tutorial on Windows 10 Firewall (look halfway down the page for the firewall info)

You can also go into your browser settings and Disable Flash, so that some videos don't auto play. It doesn't stop all of them, though--ABC News still loads and plays it's videos merrily when I open an article, for example. I'm still working on trying to stop that!

Using Opera Turbois also useful for reducing data usage, as it runs all http websites through it's filter first and gives you low-resolution websites. Google Chrome also has a similar app. The only downside to these apps is that you have a little less privacy. Here's some more Web Brosers and Extensions to Reduce Data Usage.

Installing free https://getadblock.com will also help reduce data usage, by keeping you from having to load all those ads and pop-ups. But, your privacy might also be a little compromised by this, too, as they end up looking at all your websites to take the ads out of them.

Also, I use facebook, and I just discovered that you can access the mobile version from your desktop computer, and it uses a TON less data. https://m.facebook.com/. In just the last few months, facebook seems to have become my main data hog, maybe because they increased the graphics on desktop version. But, the mobile version uses insanely less data than the desktop version. It's not as nice to work with, but I'm willing to make that sacrifice! Also, if you use facebook, make sure to go into your setting and diasble video auto-play.

I also unplug my computer from the router just to be on the safe side.

Does any one else have tricks for saving internet usage? Please share them here!
 
steward
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For the Firefox web browser:

I go into about:config, and set network.predictor.enable-prefetch and network.prefetch-next  to false.

I install a script blocker, so that the only scripts running are from sites that I approve.

In Toolsage-Info:Media there is an option to not download media from particular sites.



 
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Thank you for your suggestions! I will try your tips when I get back to Ladakh, where our school has a VSAT from Hughes. It's a big pain in the neck, and customer service makes you want to strangle somebody. But our school is just a few km too far from the phone exchange to get broadband over the phone lines, and in any case most winters (like the current one) the optical fiber cable over the passes gets cut by an avalanche so there's no broadband on the phone lines anyway for a few months.

One small thing about Hughes, though. We upped our package one time when we were doing a specific project. We continued to get that "you're 5% over your usage limit" notice every month, exactly like we get when we're on the lower package. This continued even when we'd reduced our usage back to the old pattern but were unable to change the package back down for a few months due to the unresponsive customer service. So I actually don't believe that they count our usage. They seem to just send everybody that over-use message every month. For all I know, we're way over the allotted amount but they just tell us we're approx 5% over every month.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Have you downloaded their status meter? http://services2.hughesnet.com/Status_Meter/

I've started really watching mine, as we kept being over, even though we seemed to be doing less. It appears that a lot of websites are now taking more data to run, with higher graphics and more flash, etc. I'm pretty sure facebook now has higher graphics, which is why I'm now using the mobile version on my desktop computer. It's not as nice, but I'm not going over my data allotment now. When I use the normal version, I watch it use up a 1-2 mb per five minutes when I'm scrolling down my newsfeed. With the mobile one, I can scroll for 15 minutes and not lose a mb.

In the Hughesnet forum, someone posted a really helpful tutorial on how to check your internet usage and to see if and where any of it was "leaking." https://community.hughesnet.com/hughesnet/topics/unexplained-high-data-usage. They also mention downloading a program called Glasswire (https://www.glasswire.com/ help/). I haven't downloaded it, but it's supposedly more detailed than the Hughesnet.

I hope that helps!
 
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Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
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If you're running Windows 10, it's a major data hog.  I turned off the features that I wasn't using, and turned off the automatic updates.  A big thing that helped for me was to install an adblocker.  It was really annoying for margin ads to start playing videos that I didn't want to watch in the first place, and making me run over my allotted usage.  Just. Plain. Rude.  And if that's under control, you can save usage by going offline to compose your e-mails in Notepad or such a program, copy, then paste into your e-mail and send, without being online for all the time that it takes to compose what you want to say.

http://www.groovypost.com/howto/manage-windows-10-data-usage/

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2955491/windows/how-to-stop-windows-10-from-using-your-pcs-bandwidth-to-update-strangers-systems.html

http://geekslab.altervista.org/how-to-reduce-data-usage-on-windows-10/
 
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Here's some relevant reading: http://idlewords.com/talks/website_obesity.htm

A few firefox addons I recommend that are relevant: NoScript, Request Policy Continued, uBlock, Random Agent Spoofer(for advanced use)
These addons also help you protect your privacy online. Of course, the biggest thing you can do to protect your privacy is stop using Windows 10. Its quite possibly the creepiest OS ever.

Here's some privacy protecting addons for firefox: HTTPS Everywhere, Better Privacy, Self Destructing Cookies

Hope this helps.
 
master steward
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Thanks everyone for the tips!
 
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Thanks for all the gret ideas..would be nice to see some apple ideas. I will put a few of your suggestions to work. Thanks!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Discovered another way to see what programs are using the internet, and hopefully reduce unnecessary internet usage. It's called "Resource Monitor," and it can be found under your task manager if you have Windows 7 or Vista.

This was the instructions I used to find it, from https://www.quora.com/Windows-7-How-do-I-tell-what-is-using-my-internet-connection:

Strike Ctrl+Shift+Esc; Right click on the taskbar and select "Start Task Manager"; or click on "Start" and then type "taskmgr" in the search box. Right-click on it and select "Run as Administrator".
Click on the "Performance" tab.
Click on "Resource Monitor".
Click on the "Network" tab. Right under it is the list of all processes using your connection.



It'll look something like this:



Here's a link for more information on it: https://www.pcworld.com/article/241677/how_to_use_resource_monitor.html



I'd initially went seeking for something like this because recently my internet data was being used up a LOT faster than it used to be, and it was taking longer to load webpages. I ran lots of virus and malware scans, but found nothing. BUT, looking at the resource monitor, I found that my Windows Media Player (that I use to play white noise for my napping baby), was accessing the internet. Not okay!

So, I use this tutorial: https://superuser.com/questions/363540/how-can-i-block-a-program-from-accessing-the-internet, to go to Windows Firewall and Advanced Security and block it. That worked wonderfully!

I also found a random program called m_agent_service.exe (for the useless program called Meraki), which was constantly accessing the internet. I tried blocking it in my firewall. That didn't work. I tried uninstalling it. That didn't work. I tried deleting it from my program folders, but I kept getting alerts saying Meraki needed to be closed before I could delete it. I'd uninstalled the thing, so how could it still be in operation?! I tried sticking the files in my antivirus' virus chest. That didn't work. I went into the resource monitor (as m_agent_service.exe didn't show up in the normal task manager) and clicked "end process tree." Sadly, it kept coming back to life right after I terminated the bugger. But/i],  I figured out that [i]while it was ending it, I was able to delete the sucker from my program files, and now it appears to be finally exorcised from my computer. Huzzah!
 
pollinator
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Just one alternate idea. I used to have satellite internet as well, so I feel your pain. We switched over to mobile internet from a mobile phone provider to get a lot more included bandwidth. Many mobile phone plans now offer unlimited data that cost the same or less than satellite.

If you have a pretty modern mobile phone, you can use it to create a mobile hotspot (it is easy and built in to many phones). The mobile hotspot essentially creates a wireless network that your wireless devices can connect to to use your phones internet connection. I often have multiples devices connected to my phones while I am using it to make phones calls too. You can use the mobile hotspot to share that data with even old school desktop computers with something like this wifi adapter at Amazon.

5GB of data is not very much. Many web developers no longer seem to care about making low-bandwidth websites. Many websites now load videos or huge high definition photos on the homepage. Both of those things eat a lot of bandwidth.

I f you don't have mobile coverage. I second the recommendation of the NoScript browser plugin. It is really helpful to block all the included stuff you don't want to load automatically.

One other idea is to use the built in browser caching. For privacy, most people encourage you to clear your browser cache often, but if you are trying to save bandwidth, this is maybe not the best idea. Here is a read that explains how your browser cache works: Everything You Need to Know About the Browser Cache
 
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I don't really know much about Windows 10, as I spend most of my online time either on Gentoo Linux or an iMac; but in both those cases I can set regular updates to occur a particular times and days of the week.  In Linux this program is called "crond", and I can tell it to do just about anything.  I don't have a limited Internet plan (except on my cell phone) but I do tell my podcatcher to update in the wee hours of the mornings.  If your email client is "local" (i.e. downloads a copy of all your emails upon startup) you can tell it to download at 3 or 4 am, so that when you go to check your emails, you will already have most of your new emails and therefore less daytime data will occur.  If you use a web based email service with a limited data plan, you really should consider a "local" email client; as the standard email protocols are much more data efficient than hypertext web services.

Also, there are many (mostly older) web browsers designed for limited data; but there are also extensions available for modern browsers that enable data stream compression, as well as low-bandwidth data techniques such as "lazy loading"  (where the browser doesn't actually load photos until you scroll down far enough for them to show on the page, which saves data whenever you might surf away from that page before getting to the bottom.)

Or if you are truly looking to get stuff done on minimum data; you can turn off automatic image loading completely or use a non-graphical browser.  (I didn't know that the web had photos until about 1995, because I did almost everything in Lynx)  Such non-graphical browsers include Lynx, Links and Links2 for the GNU/linux and Mac OS X set, and WebIE & ELinks for the Windoze users.

https://merabheja.com/12-text-only-browsers-for-browsing-in-slow-internet-connections/


 
pollinator
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Correct to use mobile version of facebook. You got good advice too on running a script and ad blocker plugin - I prefer NoScript and UBlock Origin and install both. Avoid microsoft products - specially windows10. Look into:

(my favorite) https://lubuntu.net

or a few other great alternatives:   http://www.ocsmag.com/2017/12/23/best-xfce-distro-of-2017

Once you get used to better operating systems, you'll never go back. If you must use microsoft windows (masochism?), turn off 'windows update' in services:

details here:  https://mspoweruser.com/turn-off-windows-update-windows-10
 
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Creighton Samuiels wrote:

Or if you are truly looking to get stuff done on minimum data; you can turn off automatic image loading completely or use a non-graphical browser.  (I didn't know that the web had photos until about 1995, because I did almost everything in Lynx)  Such non-graphical browsers include Lynx, Links and Links2 for the GNU/linux and Mac OS X set, and WebIE & ELinks for the Windoze users.

https://merabheja.com/12-text-only-browsers-for-browsing-in-slow-internet-connections/




If you are at the point where you are disabling images in your browser you could also disable CSS, I haven't tested how much this will reduce your data usage but I think I would try this before switching to a non-graphical browser, then i can turn things on and off without having to install yet another browser on my machine.

(In case anybody doesn't know CSS stands for cascading style sheet. Basically the website's css file is the presentation layer of a site, so backgounds and fonts etc. You can still easily see the actual content of the site with CSS turned off.)
 
Creighton Samuels
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Another trick to reduce bandwidth would be to add a stand-alone caching web proxy, give it a large slice of the hard disk; and point all of your internet browsers to use that proxy.  In Linux the most popular such proxy is called Squid.  The way this works is, when you surf to a site or click on a link, your browser no longer goes to the internet to fetch that itself, but requests that from the proxy.  The proxy will fetch the website, and save a copy of everything that is downloaded to disk.  Then the next time that anyone surfs to that same webpage again, from any web browser, the proxy will first check the timestamp of the root HTML file to see if it has been updated since it's last download.  If it has, or if it can't tell, it will download that root HTML file and check.  If it is the same, it will simply draw that webpage and any images, CSS files, etc from it's local copy on your own hard drive.  Regardless, if any of the images remain unchanged, it will still draw those from the disk as well.

This won't lower your bandwidth at first, but we are all creatures of habit and tend to spend most of our data returning to a handful of the same websites; so after a week or two, your net data usage will drop.  It is not unrealistic for this one trick to save 60% or more on website data usage, and if you have a household of teenagers who like to use personal devices over wifi; setting up squid onto and old computer to serve as a firewall/proxy server could save you much more.  But no proxy is going to reduce your update bandwidth, file transfers, gaming data usage or anything that uses a streaming service.

EDIT: The downside to this technique is that squid won't work if you are connecting to a website using secure hypertext transport protocol (HTTPS://).  Only your surfing done in the clear can be copied by Squid.  
 
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Like another person said we gave completely dropped any kind of internet coverage and gone moble exclusive. My Straight Talk plan is $55 for unlimited data, I hotspot my phone to run my laptop and tablet when needed plus my notes yse it girl school and fun. I upload a lot of video podcast audio each month with no problems. A typical month we use around 20GBs with no throttling.
 
Anne Miller
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This is directed at folks who are using Hughesnet for their internet.

I recommend changing to Gen 5 if it is available in your area.  The difference is remarkable and was about $5.00 plus tax more a month for me.
 
Rebecca Norman
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I recently did just that. Our school had a Hughes VSAT due to no other options, and it was 2 Gb per month for almost $100. Recently the local mobile phone provider upgraded to 4G internet so I started putting my phone in the one spot on the window that gets decent reception, and using it as a wifi hotspot for my computer. I taped an old clear cassette cover to the window glass to hold the phone. (Well actually now I'm in Delhi using my friend's home wifi and can't believe how much faster everything is, but anyway.)
 
                    
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Or if you're genuinely seeking to find stuff done on minimum data; you can turn off automatic image loading completely or use a non-graphical browser. (I did not understand that the web had photographs until about 1995, because I did virtually everything in Lynx) Such non-graphical browsers include Lynx, Links and Links2 for the GNU/linux and Mac OS X set and WebIE & ELinks for the Windoze users.

http://techtips.online

Tech Tips
 
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There are some other ideas by which you can reduce your data usage like disable auto windows update, disable antivirus update, open gmail in basic mode etc. https://windowsclassroom.com is the best place to get information about windows. Go and grab it.
 
gardener
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I could see keeping programs in basic mode as useful. Aren't there serious security and functionality risks in not keeping the windows and antivirus updates? Is that mitigated by something like a regular schedule of manually initiating updates?
 
gardener
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There most certainly is serious security issues with turning off updates, please do not do that!

If it weren't for my penchant for playing modern computer games, I would still be using Linux only, and there are distributions designed for specific functions like web surfing and web mail only, which only turn on the minimum features you need which means fewer bits to keep updated as well. I will probably go back to Linux in a couple years and stick to that when I retire and move off grid.

Resisting the push towards the "internet of things" will also reduce bandwidth used by those gadgets. There are some mobile carriers that piggyback off the big 3's infrastructure, and they offer "unlimited" plans where you get 2gb or 5gb of data at 4G speeds, then unlimited data after that at 3G for pretty good monthly prices. Might be a tool to help teach someone how to budget their data use, or maybe not.
 
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Our homestead is on 50 acres in extremely rural West Virginia. As in our nearest neighbor is 1 1/2 miles away, no mail delivery, no snow removal, no cell service for 16 miles in any direction, even on hills. So satellite is our only option. We have a ViaSat business account, because the online reviews were superior to Hughs. We pay $150/month for 50Gb of data that delivered at a measured rate of 28MB/sec during the day and 5MB/sec evenings. All ViaSat "unlimited" accounts are subject to serious throttling. Our business plan that is strickly metered, and no throttling for us below the previously posted values. ViaSat also has their own browser, which they claim minimizes data use (we use it). The business accounts get immediately answered by knowledgeable humans who sound like they are from the same country as we are in (no script readers from India). Had two 8 hour plus outages in one month, claimed to be from bad weather at the ground station end. A bit scary when your phone service goes out for so long (we get our "landline" phone service from Ooma, and are very content with the quality of it). ViaSat isn't Comcast, but its all we've got and we're grateful for it.
 
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