running out of bandwidth on a 4g chromebook

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running out of bandwidth on a 4g chromebook

December 30th, 2014 by Jeanne Boyarsky

My mother has had her new 4G Chromebook for a few weeks now. I subscribed to the same $20 for 1GB plan as before. (Well technically there was a 100MB bonus on the old 3G plan.)

The first month was fine of the plan was me playing with it at home (mostly on wifi) and my vacation to visit her. This month was the first real month of her using it. She never ran out of bandwidth with the laptop and did the first month with the new one. How suspicious. I called Verizon and learned:

  1. Verizon offers text/email alerts on usage thresholds, but not for Chromebook pre-paid plans. In other words, useless to me.
  2. There were two days where she “used” over 200MB. And was online for over two hours. I’m not sure I believe Verizon on that, but I have no evidence to the contrary.

Here’s what we are doing to fix/troubleshoot.

Keep a log

I asked my mother to track her internet usage for a month or two so we can gather more data. She is to track the time she goes on/offline and what she does when online.

Turn off the Chromebook when not in use

I’m not sure if I’m right to be worried about someone piggybacking off her signal, but I told her to turn off (shut down, not sleep) the laptop when not online. This way we can get an accurate pictures of when she is online.

Turn off Flash

Since videos are large, I’m wondering if a website she went to uses Flash for video ads. I asked her to turn off Flash. She never watches videos so this won’t impede her experience.
  1. Type chrome:plugins in the address bar
  2. Scroll down and find the entry for Adobe Flash
  3. Click the disable link
Turn off extra bandwidth “helpers”
I’m concerned that the pre-fetching/pre-loading pages is wasting too much bandwidth. So turning that off. I don’t think the URL completion is significant, but just in case…
  1. Chrome Settings
  2. Show advanced settings
  3. Scroll down to the privacy section and uncheck
    1. “Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLs typed in the address bar or the app launcher search book
    2. Predict network actions to improve page load performance

What do you think?

Any other ideas for what to do? She’s using a 4G plan exclusively (only going to visit a wifi connection once a month or two when an update comes out). She doesn’t watch videos and has never been a bandwidth intensive user before.

I will say that I’m glad this is a pre-paid plan where they cut you off rather than simply charging for overages.

Comments

Comment from Jeanne Boyarsky
Posted: January 2, 2015 at 10:41 pm

Chris B at CodeRanch has a good idea – that the initial page loads use more bandwidth. We think that was the problem. (My mother went to every website she ever uses to test it worked on the new computer. That’d do it!)

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