Your Data Allowance Explained

While AOL broadband offers unlimited data with all of their broadband packages it is still important that you know about internet data usage.  Having unlimited data with AOL broadband does not meant that you can use as much data as you want when you want it.  There are other factors that should be considered such as traffic management and fair use policies.  These policies curb the amount of data that even unlimited broadband package holders can use. 

What Sort of Internet User are You?

The first point you need to look at when you consider internet data use is what sort of user you are.  There are three different types of users that you should know about:

  • Heavy users – heavy users are people that cannot cope for a single day without internet.  These people generally stream media, download files and play online games every day.
  • Moderate users – moderate users vary from watching online videos everyday to only checking their email on other days.  These users generally do something on the internet every day even if it is just checking their email or going onto a social media website. 
  • Light users – light users are people that do not need to go online every day.  Most light users will only go online to check their email every couple of days.

Once you have determined the sort of internet users you are you can take a look at internet data usage.

Internet Data Usage

Whenever you do anything online you are using data.  The amount of internet data that is used for an activity will vary depending on what the activity is.  There are 10 common activities that people complete online and you should know how much data each of these activities uses:

  • Most users from heavy to light will complete at least one hour of web browsing in a day.  This activity uses around 10 to 25mb of data to complete.
  • If you are downloading a single document like a PDF file or a Word document you will be using 2mb of data.
  • An hour of surfing Facebook without looking at any videos uses around 20mb.
  • If you are going to download a standard 5 minute music track then you are going to use 4mb.
  • Streaming a YouTube video for 30 minutes at 800kbps will use up about 175mb.
  • Downloading a standard definition movie from any website uses 700mb if it is in AVI format.
  • Downloading a high definition movie in any format uses around 4GB.
  • Many people stream media instead of downloading and streaming an hour long standard definition video uses 250mb of data.
  • Streaming an hour of high definition video uses 2GB.
  • Streaming an hour of live radio or music uses 150mb.

Knowing how much data all of your online activities use is the first step to successfully managing your internet data use. 

Tip to Avoid Going over Your AOL Broadband Limit

While there is no data limit on AOL broadband packages there are fair use policies.  These policies only allow you to download a certain amount at certain times of the day.  The first tip to not going over your limit is finding out what the limit is.  This is easy to do if you have a capped broadband package.  For unlimited users you have to look at what the fair use and traffic management policies state.  They generally outline the times that the policies are in effect and the limit you are not allowed to exceed.

The next tip you should keep in mind is how much data your activities are using.  If you know what your limit is during the day and know that streaming media will place you over the limit then you should curb your use.  While this may take some of the fun out of using the internet it does save you from the consequences of going over your limit.  You can also get a download monitor that helps you keep track of how much data you have used and which software programmes are using data.

Another tip that you should keep in mind relates to watching videos online.  If a video is in high definition you should consider whether it would be just as good in standard definition or not.  Streaming a standard definition video uses a lot less data than a high definition video.  With a lot of online videos you do get a similar image with standard and high definition.  It is easy to change the definition of the video in the settings area of the media system you are using.

If you live in an area with Wi-Fi hotspots then you can use these to lower your download usage.  Logging onto a hotspot allows you to use the hotspot’s allowance instead of the one from your broadband package.  This is not a tip that everyone can use because hotspots are not located everywhere.  You also have to ensure that you are able to use the hotspot and that all your data remains secure when you do this.

Something else you should consider is turning off your device when you are not using it.  Placing your computer in standby mode does close down most of the applications, but they could still be using data.  You should also close websites and applications that you are not using if you know that they use data.  Logging out of your email is an easy way to save over a long period of time.  If you leave these applications and accounts open they constantly download small amounts that add up in the long run. 

When you are sending a file to someone you should look at compressing it.  This lowers the size of the file that you are going to be uploading and sending.  The smaller the file size the less data you will use sending it.  There are a number of free compression tools that you can get and many computers come with a compression tool pre-loaded.