Lockdown 2.0 is well underway and if we have learned anything from the last one, it’s that we’re going to need plenty of distractions to ensure we get through it with our sanity intact. Not being able to see the people you love or live life as you would like is frustrating, but even more so if you have nothing to occupy yourself with while you’re at home.
That being said, depending too much on things like apps, software and gaming, can mean slowing down your bandwidth and having trouble when you need it most. Your data speed has more to do with your bandwidth usage than many people realise. In some cases, your wifi may slow down so much that platforms you would usually use easily become unusable. It gets even worse if you have more than one person trying to use the internet at the same time.
Don’t jump to conclusions and call your internet service provider with a barrage of insults just yet – it’s probably not their fault! To get back to streaming, gaming, and watching things like a pro during lockdown 2.0, you need to address the things eating up your bandwidth.
So, what is using up all your Bandwidth?
Streaming can be one of the main culprits when it comes to these pastimes. Netflix, YouTube, and Prime all require bandwidth to ensure that you can watch high definition playback of your favourite shows without any issues or delays. Nobody wants to deal with the dreaded ‘buffering’ signal, do they?
Each service does offer the ability to downgrade your streaming to save on bandwidth, so that could be worth a look if you feel this may be one of the main sources of your problems. Hitting Control+Alt+Shift+S allows you to bring up a menu that can override the quality settings. Netflix ensures smooth streaming is by toggling its video quality based on how much bandwidth your internet connection has, so sometimes it will do it automatically. If you make changes manually they will come into play within 8 hours.
If you tend to stream in other ways, such as playing games on platforms like Twitch, for example, then you need to remember that this is also going to take up a substantial amount of space.
The speeds required to enjoy a solid gaming experience will depend on a variety of factors, from the games you are playing to the consoles you are using. If you’re going to game seamlessly then you need to make sure you have enough bandwidth free and that you even increase it, if needs be. Do your research before buying a new game or console to be sure you can handle it. If you’ve already been experiencing issues, checking out the bandwidth required by the game may give you insight into why things haven’t been working the way they should.
Downloads consume your bandwidth and can slow down your internet speed substantially. Whether you’re downloading shows to watch on your device without an internet connection or something else, you should be aware of this before you begin a download. Depending on the size of the download, it could take hours.
As with downloading files, uploading files such as Youtube videos will take up a proportion of your bandwidth. Being prepared to take your activities offline while this happens may be your only option.
File sharing is one of the biggest bandwidth-hogging activities out there, for instance, when you use a peer to peer file sharing system. Many people try to upload their files and download at the fastest rates possible, but this will dominate your wifi without fail. Whether you’re transferring music or movies, remember that you could also be open to legal action from intellectual property owners.
Figuring out what the problem is
Use Your Router
See if you can use your router to figure out what the issue is. You can check your IP addresses, MAC addresses, and the current connection status so you can see exactly what is connected to your network at the moment and what you could potentially do without.
If you’re still none the wiser, certain apps could help. Apps like Glasswire can give you a more accurate insight into how much you’re downloading and uploading over minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months so you get a feel for whether you’re uploading a bit too much. Bandwidth+, Netguard, and BitMeter are other options you can look into. Being aware of what’s really going on can help you to make a plan for future uploads, downloads, and anything else you want to do.
Scan For Malware
Malware can sometimes be the culprit when you’re using up too much bandwidth, so get some software in place and scan for it. Stay alert and keep your computer and other devices clean and running smoothly.
Make Sure You’re Getting What You Pay For
In some cases, you may not be getting the promised speeds that you have paid for. Use speed testing websites to see if your uploads and downloads match up to what you’re paying for. Running tests at different times of day across different sites will give you a better idea of what’s going on. Ookla Speedtest can give you an accurate analysis of your speeds.
COVID-19 and broadband usage
Could it also be affected by high usage due to Covid-19?
Christmas is going to involve more virtual living room family visits this year, but can the infrastructure hold up on the biggest day of the year? We found some interesting statistics on the recent publication on internet usage from Ofcom.
- Adult internet visitors on average spent 36 minutes longer per day online during April compared to January!
The next generation of consoles to be released is going to ensure a spike in gaming and streaming, which according to Openreach is the major culprit of usage. The zoom calls don’t seem to be the biggest worry in the industry.
The release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X is no doubt going to put a strain on the internet. The size of the game’s data being downloaded are huge as the Playstation, for example, has no DVD slot and is 100% downloaded.
Let’s brace ourselves over the festive period and hope the internet doesn’t, well, break!
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