Columnists,Deshan Ilangakoon,Top Story l by Deshan Ilangakoon l 24 Jun 2020     - 774

Beating the System - How to save those critical GBs of Data


For quite a lot of us out there, being stuck at home during this Corona virus pandemic, like me you would have suddenly realized that your internet package would took serious beating. This would have been even more harsh for those of you working from home, who had to connect to the internet for various business calls and meetings. Of course, now with things slowly coming back to normal, it’s quite likely that your internet bills will come down too, but for some of us, going back to work may not happen right away. This is because most companies have seen the advantages of having less staff in the workplace. Having less staff at work these days is also important since it’s much easier for the management to ensure safety, since we are not completely out of the woods just yet. Taking this into consideration, here are some useful tips on how you can save your Internet package.


Understanding Your Data Package

One of the biggest problems that we have with our data packages is that we don’t properly understand our data package. What you have to know is that when your Internet Service Provider tells you that you are getting a 50 GB package or a 100 GB package, you think “WOW” and you are quite thrilled with it. I know this from pain full experience. The catch here though is that this data package is divided in half and 50% is called the daytime bundle and the rest is the nighttime bundle. This same thing maybe sometimes named as Peak and Off-Peak bundles. Here the daytime or peak bundle is for internet usage from 8 am to 12 midnight. After this it’s called the nighttime or off-peak. This is important because if you actually take a look in detail at your internet usage, you’ll clearly see that you are mostly using your day-time or peak data and your night time or off-peak is almost completely unused. This is a very important point to remember because most of these tips revolve around using up this night data as well, so that you actually use all the data you are paying for.


Tip 1 – Utilizing the Night Data

Given that most of us are mostly sleeping between 12 midnight and 8 am and we are actually online during the daytime, this night data, would almost never be fully used up. However, there is a great use for this night data. This is the ideal time to download your movies or what ever you want so that you can watch it once you are up. If you are using Torrents (for legal downloads) then there is a great feature available where you can schedule downloads. This means that you can add any number of files into torrents to download, but it won’t download until the specified time. This way you can set it up to download from midnight till 8 in the morning.


Or else if you are a Netflix or YouTube surfing fan, these apps also give you the option to download videos and watch later offline. Sadly though, a scheduling option isn’t available here so you would have to wait up till 12 midnight (or wake up early morning) and manually start downloading and make sure to stop any pending downloads at 8 in the morning. This might be a bit of a pain, but the effort is worth it since you can generally download quite a few items at a time (given your storage space) and you can watch them anytime.

Also, if you want to do any other big downloads like if you have to download and install windows updates, again the nighttime data block is ideal. It also means that you have plenty of daytime internet available for you to spend on other internet extravagances.


Tip 2 – Telling Windows to be Careful

Given that most of us use a Windows based laptop or desktop, this is another source of problem for your internet package. This is because windows will generally download any updates or patches as and when they become available. This means that it is quite possible that it will start a download right in the middle of the day while you are working on something important. Now, I can’t stress enough how important Windows updates are but there is a trick to tell your computer to be mindful of the internet usage.

The trick here is to let Windows know that a particular WiFi connection is “Metered”. What this does in essence is to stop all these downloads that would otherwise happen in the background and use up all your data. It also stops your virus guars and OneDrive from just synching files at any old time. Of course, there is a small price to pay for this. If you make a WiFi connection as “Metered” then you have to do the updates and syncs manually. But this again means that you can run the updates while you are downloading movies on Netflix.

Setting this up is actually quite a simple process (example is for Windows 10, Windows 8 also should be pretty much the same). You press the WiFi button which shows all the connections available and press the “Properties” button. This will open a settings window with different configurations. When you scroll down a little bit, you’ll see a section titled “Metered Connection” with a toggle button saying, “Set as metered connection”. Simply turn this on and you are good to go.

And no, that’s not the name of my actual WiFi connection.

On top of that, the option to set a data limit is also a nice feature to let you know when you are going too high on your internet usage.  

Tip 3 – Internet Packages

This is a two-fold tip. Firstly, what this means is that you should make sure to get a internet package that fits yours or your home’s needs. Most of Sri Lanka’s internet service providers (ISP) have some mobile app or web portal where you can go and check your internet usage. So, this way you can get a detailed understanding of how much data you are using. If this is the first time you are getting a package, you will probably not get it right but that’s not a problem since you can always change the package. So have a look and make sure you get a package that doesn’t mean you have to buy additional data blocks and also one that doesn’t leave too much data left over at the end of the month. Of course, make sure you do tips 1 and 2 first before checking your internet usage so that you don’t end up wasting data.

You can have some exceptional months, like the holidays when people are spending more time at home. But you can skip over these odd ball months and get a package that generally fits you for the rest of the time. Or if the ISP doesn’t charge you to change packages, you can switch around depending on how you believe the upcoming month’s internet usage will be.

The second option is that you can buy special internet packages that tailor to your addictions like Netflix or YouTube. For example, Dialog has a package that allows unlimited YouTube streaming when you are on their 4G network for 360p videos. This is however a mobile data package so it’s for when you are watching YouTube on your phone ideally. But you can also make a hotspot and connect your laptop to the phone and watch YouTube that way. But be careful, you might use up your phone’s data since the laptop has other stuff as well that use the internet.

There are also an unlimited Netflix specific packages that are also available for you. On top of that Netflix’s streaming offers 3 quality levels for streaming. Personally I use the lowest and even on a High Resolution laptop the quality isn’t bad. So pick a vice and depending on your usage, you can switch to one of those packages and save yourself some data.

Finally, with these three options, you should be able to save a lot of money on your internet usage. If however you do all these and you are still find you are using too much internet, you might want to check to make sure you don’t have any unwanted people on your WiFi and make sure your family also follows these steps. If all else fails, have your machine checked out. It might be that you have a virus or something on your computer that is using your internet.



Deshan Ilangakoon

"A creative writer, photographer, traveler and cyber security professional, Deshan has worked with several local and international travel magazines and other sources, to publish stories and reviews of places, sights and experiences around Sri Lanka. He has a passion to share his experiences through stories and pictures of the wonders of Sri Lanka."


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