Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

Category: Internet Speed Blog Series

Data Usage Part II: Sneaky Ways Your Connection is Using Tons of Data

When a user uses overwhelming amount of data, it puts a burden on the entire network and can actually slow down neighboring connections.  It can also signal serious problems that negatively impact not just your Internet connection but your computer as well.

You have a virus (or even viruses): When we notice that a customer is suddenly using way more data than they normally do, it’s often an indication that the customer has been infected with a nasty virus.  Many viruses receive and transmit data and thus can cause a huge increase in the amount of information used.

Someone else is stealing your Internet connection: An unsecured wireless network leaves your Internet connection open to use by anyone close enough to pick up the signal.  When your neighbor, who doesn’t pay for the Internet, leeches off of your system, it can slow your speeds and also increases your data consumption.  Expected data usage is based off of the number of customers in an area.  Each non-customer who “steals” a connection makes it harder to ensure that data is flowing well for everyone

Keep an eye on your backup plan: Online backup is a great idea!  However, since these sites upload your data each day, your usage can easily add up.  This is especially true if you have data heavy files such as graphics programs or movies or if you are uploading your files for the first time.

Data Usage Part I: Data Hogs and You

In the past, we wrote a series about how to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your Internet speeds.  Now we’re targeting the surprising ways that your Internet connection could be using significantly more data than you realize.

Why is managing your data usage important?  Well your Internet connection comes from the same pipe that you neighbor’s connection comes from.  When one of you starts using huge amounts of data, it can slow down other’s Internet speeds.   Transferring data also costs your Internet service provider.  When these power users consume so much data, it can increase prices for everyone.

Unfortunately, about 5% of the Internet users in America are what has been termed “data hogs.”  These users, which make up about 5% of all Internet consumers, download and upload significantly more bandwidth than the average user.  Since Internet bandwidth is a “shared resource”, that extra demand can negatively impact the speeds of other users.

Now some companies have started using data caps or “throttling,” which involves lowering a user’s speed to create more room for other users.  This option is used by many cellular phone companies who offer “unlimited” data plans.

In order to make sure that our customers don’t unwittingly become data hogs, we’re going to be providing helpful tips to manage your data consumption.  Stay tuned for our next blog where we examine the truly sneaky ways your data usage can skyrocket.

Surprising Factors Affecting Your Internet: Part Three

Now that we have reviewed how to maximize a wireless connection and what type of sites can slow your experience, it’s time to make sure that your computer is primed for web browsing.

Part Three – Computer Issues

  • Viruses or malware on your computer – When your computer is infected with a virus, your internet connection is usually one of the first casualties.  In fact, many viruses aim to disable your connection to the web.  Spyware and Adware, which are programs that follow you as you travel around the Internet gathering information, can also slow your browsing experience.  Currently, several major browsers are working to allow you to disable these software programs.
  • Too many programs running at once– Make sure that you aren’t running too many programs in the “background.” Sometimes a slow Internet connection is actually a result of slow computing.  If you have several programs open that demand a lot from your computer’s processor, then your browser will respond slower as well.  Remember, your browser is still a computer program and can be affected by other, non-Internet based, programs.
  • Outdated version of your browser As the web continues to evolve, so do the computer programs that create websites.  If you don’t update your browser often, it may not be able to read all of the “languages” that make up a website and that will slow down or completely interrupt your online experience.  Most browsers will tell you when updates are available but allow you to choose whether to run those updates.  While it can seem like a hassle, keeping up-to-date will make your browsing experience much better.

These are only a few of the most easily treated and common reasons why your computer may be running slowly.  If you notice that your computer isn’t as fast as it used to be, check out TotalTech, our comprehensive program that can optimize your computer’s hard drive, remove viruses and malware, troubleshoot browser issues and more.  Visit our website or call 1-888-723-4932.

Surprising Factors Affecting Your Internet Speed – Part Two

In the last post, we discussed possible factors stemming from wireless issues including unknown devices, signal hijackers and router technology.  This post will focus on how individual websites can affect your experience when surfing the web.

Part Two: How Websites Affect Your Speed

  • Using popular sites at their peak of demand – If you are using a streaming service during primetime hours or trying to check facebook at 10:00 am, then you are more likely to experience a long load time.  This is because the site is getting the highest amount of requests at that time.  Just as you have a connection going into your home, websites have connections that connect them out to the web.  When these connections receive an especially large amount of requests, the site is likely to run more slowly.
  • Heavy Sites – Some sites try to do too much.  They use flash animations, draw information from multiple databases, stream video and/or load multiple images simultaneously.  The problem is that while these sites might look engaging (though normally they just look cluttered), having that much downloading at once means a very long load time compared to other, cleaner-looking sites.    It can also slow down other websites since all sites are received through the same cable and a heavy site that regularly refreshes itself will take a lot of bandwidth.
    Heavy sites also include high-quality video streaming sites such as Netflix and Hulu.  These sites demand a significant amount of bandwidth to play smoothly and often have flash openings on the main page that can take a while to load.

    If you are a small business owner who is looking to create a sleek, easily readable website, we offer website hosting and design at affordable prices.
  • Queries – If the site you’re visiting pulls a lot of data from a database, it can take a while to create the page.  If you notice that one or a small handful of pages are loading very slowly, it’s far more likely that it’s the way the site was constructed and not your connection speed that is causing the slow load time.
  • Check back soon for Part III – Computer Issues

Surprising Factors Affecting Your Internet Speed – Part One

While it’s well-known that your broadband speed is one of the biggest indicators of how fast you are going to be able to browse the web, there are several factors that can stop you from benefitting from your current speeds.  No matter what speed you receive, avoiding the issues below will help you maximize your online experience.

Since there are a lot of factors that affect your Internet speed, we have broken it into three parts: wireless issues, computer issues, and website issues.  Check back soon for parts II and III.

Part I – How your wireless connection can affect your speed

  • You are unwittingly providing Internet for your entire neighborhood If you run wireless Internet in your home without securing your personal network, you run the risk of others using your network.  This additional demand on your connection can significantly reduce the speeds that you receive.
    Make sure that you secure your network and use a password that isn’t easy to guess. Even if you think that your neighbors aren’t the kind to steal your connection, it’s still important to take precautions.  With so many devices enabled with wireless capability, including mobile phones and handheld gaming devices, others may not even know that they have jumped onto your network.

  • You have more devices online than you know – Handheld and stationary gaming devices, computers and laptops, mobile phones; all of these use wireless Internet connections now and can slow down your overall speed.  When many devices are all getting and sending data over one connection, the total “space” on that connection available for each device shrinks.  So if you are trying to stream a movie and notice it’s buffering a lot, make sure that your connection isn’t getting too many requests.
  • Your wireless router or modem is outdated – If your wireless router’s speed is low, then your high-speed Internet isn’t able to provide access to your wireless devices with optimum speed. The new standard for wireless routers is 1 GB.  This will allow you to provide the best connection to your devices.
  • If your modem is aging, it could also be the problem.  All electronic devices eventually wear down due to issues such as accumulated heat damage.  As your modem wears, it will also have a harder time sending and receiving information and that can significantly slow down your speed.