Usage is one area that can be confusing, mainly as doing different things will take up different amounts of your usage allowance.
You will have a limited amount of data you can use each month during peak hours, depending on your product. If you go over this you will be charged for that usage on your bill. So its a good idea to keep an eye on what is being used.
Most basic things you do on the internet won't take a large amount of usage at all. An email for example is rarely over a couple of MB in size, so you can download quite a few of these before you use a substantial chunk of your allowance, but be careful of emails with attachments as these will be substantially larger. Video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or Sky Go can quite quickly use up your usage allowance, as can updates for you computer or firmware updates on your wifi connected handheld devices.
As a quick and simple guide, the following are approximate figures for the typical data usage of certain activities.
- High definition movie (~2 hours) - 4.0GB
- Standard definition movie (~2 hours) - 1.5GB
- Catch-up TV service (Standard Def.) (~1 hour) - 800MB
- Video streaming: (e.g. YouTube) (~1 hour) - 429MB
- Online gaming (~1 hour) - 150MB
- Music (1 album/10 tracks) - 80MB
- Normal Web Browsing (~1 hour) - 25MB
There are a few third party applications that can help with monitoring your usage we have guides on using some of the more popular ones in our 'Hints and Tips' section.
If you are seeing usage that you are unsure of there are a few things to look out for.
- Windows Updates : If updates are set to download in the background this can use your allowance without you realising.
- Android/iOS updates : These can also use quite chunk of your allowance if the devices are connected to your WiFi. This also includes cloud backups that can run silently in the background.
- Mobile Apps : Games on your phones and Tablets can use data in the background, and will also download updates when needed.
- BitTorrent downloads : These programs both download and upload data. So, when you have finished downloading your intended item, it will continue to be uploaded to others, a process called 'Seeding' of a torrent, and is how the protocol works to ensure the fastest download speeds possible.
- Downloading free games : Both Microsoft and Sony offer free games each month on their subscription based gaming platforms (Live Gold, PS Plus). These can be quite large, in some cases over 7Gb in size so will take a big chunk of your monthly allowance. In the case of Microsoft they offer 2 games each month, so could easily use over 15Gb of you allowance.
If you think your WiFi may have been compromised you can often check the connected devices in the router web interface and disconnect any that you do not recognise but often, following improvements in wireless security, this is rarely the source of such usage.