Data-Plan Drains

We’ve talked about keeping your data usage in line with your plan to avoid expensive extra charges. It’s getting easier and easier to exceed your plan’s limits, and it’s going to get more expensive. Here are some data-plan drains you can easily plug.

Let’s start with the cloud. As much as we like the idea of being able to store all sorts of files in a place where you can get them from any computer and easily share for collaborative efforts, the cloud has its dark side. Companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Google all encourage you to store work, music and picture/video files on a site so you can easily share them on mobile devices.

When those mobile devices are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, they use cellular data networks. And because we’re sharing these files more – or accessing music files on a cell phone or even from our car radios as we travel – we’re using a lot of data. If you have a 2-gigabyte-per-month data plan, you can drain it pretty fast.

You can prevent hefty charges by either limiting your data downloads or by increasing your plan’s limit. Either way, you still need to watch your data so you don’t drain your plan.

Little plug-in hot spots are becoming more popular, and they can be big drains on your plan. Again, you can download a lot of data when you’re using a cellular network. And if you invite a business associate or friend to use your hot spot while on a cellular network, guess whose data they’re downloading. That’s right – yours.  It won’t take long to drain your account and get hit with those extra charges.

Those 4G cellular networks can really sneak up on you, too. After Sandy, we drove to South Carolina and Florida. When we stopped our first night out, I turned on my laptop to work with a client. When I finished, I got a text message from my wireless carrier telling me I had already used 50 percent of my monthly data limit. It was only then that I realized my computer getting back into sync after being off for a few days. With a 4G connection, it took only 45 minutes to hit 2 gigs.

Fast Internet connections are readily available on cellular networks. You really need to monitor your use, but we know that can be difficult. As much as we dislike Microsoft’s Windows 8, it has a feature that can measure your usage when connected to a measured connection. You can also set your computer so that you don’t get any Windows updates when you’re on a wireless network. You will need Windows 8 – and upgrades are going $39 to $200.

Where can you get some help? You’re not likely to get it from the carriers. We see unlimited data plans going away as more people put more things in the cloud and access them more often. It makes good business sense for them, so being more vigilant makes good sense for you.

We can answer questions and offer advice on your particular data-plan and usage needs. Just call us at 973-433-6676 or email us.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.