Surviving on a Metered Connection

A complete(ish) guide

Hello everyone! After moving to a new place, we were surprised to see that our internet provider options were quite limited. In fact we were only given 2 choices. We could either have a metered connection that we could start using immediately or we could have a non-metered one if we waited for about two weeks. My father wanted to have an internet connection as quickly as possible so despite my efforts to wait for the non-metered one, we ended up going with the metered connection.

After years of living with an unlimited non-metered connection, suddenly having to limit my internet usage was a huge change. And boy was it hard to do. To make the transition easier for people that need to use metered connections for a while, for example on vacation or a business trip, I decided to share a few tricks I have learned. I will try to list them from the ones having the most impact to the least.

1. Videos are your enemy

Watching videos is quite possibly the worst thing you can do on a metered connection. A short 480p video can destroy huge chunks of your monthly internet package. Trust me; in the long run, having your connection for the whole month is a lot more satisfying than watching a few videos. As someone who used to have YouTube videos playing in the background all day long, I got pretty bored from the sensory deprivation and the lack of entertainment.

Watching livestreams? You can forget about it. Online videos are reasonably compressed and they are still very large files. Watching livestreams, which are only minimally compressed, will literally EAT through your package.

2. Disable auto-updates

On all your devices, you should try turning off auto-updates wherever you can. You should do this for both computers and mobile phones. On my laptop I’m using a Linux distro that downloads updates manually and on all my Android devices the auto-update function of the Play Store is turned off the minute I get my hands on the device. So this problem doesn’t affect me that much.

But updates bring new features and security fixes, which means they do need to happen one way or another. So what you can do is let the updates pile up on your computer. Now you can either update the packages when you go to a place with wifi or you can wait until the end of the month to see if you have any spare data usage and update if you do.

One good way to think about this is “Using an old version of WhatsApp is better than not being able to use the new version”.

3. Use an ad blocker

Aside from all the malware concerns and the general annoyance that comes with ads, they are also using a considerable amount of your data cap with blinking animations and privacy-invading tracking codes. Those are usually not cached and use your data every time they’re loaded.

Using an ad blocker, such as the amazing uBlock Origin, will help you with your data usage and make web browsing a more bearable task. Of course, whitelisting small websites with unobtrusive ads is a nice thing to do and it will help them greatly. Anyway, getting back on the topic.

4. Cut down on the GIFs

Even though most websites have switched to webm, there are still lots of websites with large GIF files. Of course, an occasional GIF on a page won’t hurt your data cap too much. But using Tumblr to look at 600 GIFs won’t help either.

As small as webm files are compared to GIFs, they are still video files and you should still be a little careful around them.

So it all comes down to self control. Moving internet pictures with funny cats are cute, but try to limit your consumption of them.

5. Use an E-Mail client

The web interfaces of e-mail services are usually heavy pages with large amounts of Javascript code and unrelated services such as video chats. They also load your e-mail list every time since they don’t have access to a local mailbox.

By using a local e-mail client instead, such as Thunderbird, you will only download the changes to your inbox. This means new messages will use your data once and if you don’t have any new messages your data usage will be lower compared to webmails.

6. Disable images (if you’re desperate)

I’m writing this jokingly, of course, since most webpages will look broken without images. But still, if you’re desperate and need every kilobyte, this option might come in handy. I personally don’t do this since images are an essential part of my browsing.

Most web browsers have a way to disable images in their settings. If your browser of choice doesn’t have this option, you can use your ad blocker and make it block all images.


Thank you for reading this article. Hopefully these tips will be useful for some people on a metered connections.



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