Bandwidth caps can be a real drag. The large wireless providers — most notably Verizon Wireless and AT&T — did away with unlimited mobile data two to three years ago. Satellite Internet services always put their customers on a fixed data plan, and the same is rumored to be coming from Comcast and Time Warner.


Given a bandwidth-constrained Internet account, here are five ways to budget your data consumption:

Watch Videos With Lower Resolution

If you only have a 2 GB monthly data allowance, it’s probably not a good idea to stream videos at HD quality. Consider using your YouTube or Netflix option to use the SD video only. The extra bandwidth you’ll save might mean the difference in not getting an overuse penalty from your provider.

Update Mobile Apps With Your Home Internet Account

While wireless syncing is convenient, it uses up your mobile data if you aren’t on your home WiFi. Make sure you only update apps when accessing your home Internet account.

Listen to Your CDs or Music Downloads

Music streaming services like Spotify take up a lot of mobile bandwidth. If you have a CD collection or a robust supply of downloaded music, listen to those instead of Internet radio. Music artists also make a lot more money from CD sales and downloads compared to streaming royalties.

Limit Your Mobile Web Browsing

Try to keep your mobile Web browsing to a minimum when on a 3G or 4G network. Web pages laden with videos that autoplay can really use up your bandwidth quickly. Only surf when on your home network.

Watch Your Data Usage!

Take advantage of any data usage utilities offered by your mobile provider. It is important to track your data usage on a daily basis, especially when you are getting close to the end of your billing period. Paying close attention to usage patterns will give you other ideas on how to best conserve your monthly data allowance.

The fixed data plan is going to be the standard for the near future, so following these five simple steps helps ensure you won’t get sticker shock when you check your monthly bill. Remember to pay close attention to your mobile data usage!