Plug Your Bandwidth Leaks

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Plug your bandwidth leaks for faster internet performance. You can get both from your high-speed satellite internet service, along with fast uploads, seamless Web browsing, and all the other conveniences that go with high-speed internet service, provided you plug your bandwidth leaks.

Web browsers, backup services, and applications can all “leak” bandwidth by using your high-speed internet connection when you don’t want them to or without your even knowing. It takes less than an hour of changing settings in a few applications to put the bandwidth they’re eating to more productive uses, downloading and streaming the content you want.

Web browser

Web pages that automatically stream video – usually advertising, movie, or television previews in Adobe Shockwave Flash – are one of your biggest bandwidth drains. Most of the popular Web browsers have settings to prevent Flash from launching automatically.

Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera browsers enable you to select which Flash videos to play by clicking on them.

Google Chrome

  1. Click the three-bar menu button in the top right of Chrome, select “Settings.”
  2. Click “Show Advanced Settings” at the bottom, then in the “Privacy” section, click the “Content Settings” button.
  3. Scroll down to “Plug Ins” and switch it from “Run automatically” to “click to play.”

Mozilla Firefox

  1. From your home page, select “Add Ons,” then go to “Plug Ins.”
  2. Change the Adobe Flash setting from “Always activate” to “Ask to activate.”

There is also an add-on tool for Firefox called Flashblock ( that gives users more options for managing Flash downloads.


  1. Go to the Settings menu and select Preferences. Click on the “Advanced” tab. Select “Content” from the left sidebar.
  2. Locate “Enable plug-ins only on demand” and check the option. Click OK to save the settings.

Neither Microsoft Internet Explorer nor Apple Safari has native click-to-play capabilities like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. They do have broader Flash management functions for disabling automatic Flash on all but selected Websites, and there are also third-party click-to-play add-ons for Safari.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Changing Flash settings will prevent any Website from running Flash until you specifically authorize it. You cannot, however, select specific Flash animations to run. Once you authorize it, every animation can run automatically.

  1. Click on the “Tools” icon in the upper right corner of the browser window, just below the “X” button.
  2. Select Manage Add Ons.
  3. Click on “Shockwave Flash Objects.”
  4. Select the “disable” button in the lower right of the screen.

When you land on a page with Flash animations, Explorer will ask you if you want to authorize Flash. When you do, Explorer will add it to a list located on the same page where you disabled Flash. You can go back and remove sites from the list if you decide you don’t want them to run Flash.

Apple Safari

Apple takes the same all-or-nothing approach as Microsoft. To turn off automatic Flash, do the following:

  1. Click on the “Safari” menu and select “Preferences.”
  2. Click on the “Security” tab, then the “Manage Website Settings button” down near the “Allow Plug-ins” check box.
  3. At lower right, just above the “Done” key, look for “When visiting other websites.”
  4. Click on the box just to the right and select the “Ask” option.

That enables you to select the pages that can run Flash in the same way that Internet Explorer does (see above.) You can also try add-ons that give click-to-play precision, such as Click to Flash and Click to Plug-In at

Pop-ups can also contain embedded video, so make sure your browser’s popup blocker is on. If you need or want pop-ups from specific sites, you can set them as exceptions in your browser settings.

Social media – Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.

Consider using an RSS reader to keep track of your social media. It’s a less graphically-intense way to check for messages and updates, and allows you to download only the items you’re interested in.

Retreat on backups

Online backup services can chew up a lot of bandwidth if you back up your whole hard drive, which you probably don’t need to do. Back up only your most important personal content.

Think of items that you can’t replace – family photos and videos, personal documents, artwork, etc. – and back that up. If you can get it somewhere else, give it a lower priority or don’t back it up at all. Set your backups to run at specific times so they don’t launch while you’re watching a movie or trying to upload new images to your Website and slow down your high-speed internet connection.

If you still have a lot of data to back up, you might want to consider a local backup solution. Apple’s Time Machine, for example, can back up to a portable hard drive.

Wait to update

Windows and OS X do automatic updates, which means they check for application updates, software patches, etc. If an update is running in the background while you’re on a Skype call, for example, that can erode voice quality. Switch to manual settings so you can control when backups occur.

In Windows, go to your Control Panel/Windows Update/Change setting. Under “Important Changes” switch to the “Check for updates but let me choose to download and install them.”

In Mac OS X, go to System Preferences and select Software Update. Under the “Automatically check for updates” option, uncheck the “Download newly available updates in the background” and “Install system data files and security updates” boxes. The system will still tell you when updates are available, but you choose when to download them.

Watch your favorites

List the applications you use most often and check their settings for bandwidth-optimizing settings. Netflix, for example, has a feature for managing data usage. It enables you to stream good-quality video while leaving enough bandwidth for other people in your house to surf the Web or chat on Facebook.