Video is one of the most popular Internet services and the one most likely to suffer slowdowns and quality problems. Downloading a movie or streaming high-definition video consumes three times as much bandwidth as streaming music, and 100 times more than Web surfing or social media. Such high-bandwidth requirements make video vulnerable to limitations, but there are many ways to improve performance through services like Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, and YouTube without using all of your download capacity.
If you’re an avid video viewer, a few simple tricks and techniques can have your video running more smoothly and help save your bandwidth allowances. The more you save on each video, the more videos you can watch every month.
1. Rethink high-def
High-definition video consumes three times more bandwidth than standard definition. Does all of your video have to be high definition? You probably want the highest resolution for a visual feast like “Avatar,” while lower resolution is fine for “Modern Family” episodes. Your video service has options for selecting video quality. For instance, Netflix’s “Manage video quality” option allows users to choose three quality levels. In Hulu, the “Settings/Player Settings” menu offers three playback quality levels and enables you to turn off the default HD playback option. On YouTube, check the “Settings/Playback” menu and make sure the automatic “play HD” option is turned off.
2. Watch the competition
Household devices like DVRs, gaming consoles, and smartphones compete with video for bandwidth. They can disrupt video feeds if they’re running in the background while you’re streaming a video. The same goes for automatic backup programs and file-sharing programs like BitTorrent. If your video images are blurred or pixilated, check to make sure other applications aren’t running in the background.
3. Meter up
Keep an eye on your bandwidth consumption with the HughesNet Status Meter, a free app at http://services.hughesnet.com/service_tools/status_meter/. It tells you how much of your Data Allowance you have left so your performance doesn’t turn sluggish without warning. If you exceed your allowance, it alerts you right away and provides quick resolution with a Restore Token.
4. Look for leaks
If you enjoy Internet video, you can’t afford to lose bandwidth carelessly. Close remote connections such as GotoMyPC and virtual private networks when you’re done with them. If you don’t, they can leak bandwidth you could be using for video. Do video clips and advertisements play automatically when you load a Website? They eat away at your bandwidth allowance as well. Find your browser’s plug-in content menu and switch from “automatic” to “click to play.” That will prevent unwanted content from eroding bandwidth you’d rather use for video.
5. Know your habits
Keep track of how many movies you watch in a month and compare the number with your monthly data plan. If you consistently watch 30 hours of movies per month and you’re on a 10-gigabit plan, you can watch a maximum of 15 hours without paying for overages.
6. Backup retreat?
Online backup services can chew up a lot of bandwidth. Back up selected files – your most important personal content – rather than your entire hard drive. 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.
7. Get wired
If you’re having quality problems on a wireless connection, switch your device to the hard-wired network connection. It may deliver higher performance than your wireless and reduce pauses and jerky motion.