With the spread of COVID-19 and increasing numbers of us working from home or in distributed workplaces, the core truth we need to face is that businesses can’t operate in the same way they have before. Many excellent collaboration tools and working styles depend on constant high levels of network use, and when we are working apart, this can strain our existing data pools. One option is to increase the data in your shared pool and keep working in the same way, but there are many steps we can take to reduce our daily usage.
1: Restrict Background Data on your Phone or Computer
Most operating systems, iOS, Android and Windows included, allow you to restrict background data with the flick of a switch in your network settings. Background data ensures that your preferred apps are up to date when you open them (your e-mail app, for example) but this can also mean that large amounts of data are used without your active involvement. Go into your device Settings and either turn off Background App Refresh entirely or turn it off for all non-critical apps.
2: View the Mobile Version of Websites
When you view a website on your web browser, every element from the text to the images has to be downloaded before it can be displayed. This isn’t a huge problem when viewing the website from a broadband connection, but each of these elements uses up a piece of your data allowance. Most websites now provide both a desktop and mobile version. The mobile version will almost always include fewer images and be much lighter and faster to open.
Many websites are set up to detect whether or not you are viewing on a mobile device and will display the mobile version automatically. So if you think you are viewing a desktop version on your phone or tablet, it’s worth checking to see if there is a link to switch to the mobile version. Aside from the difference in layout and content, you can usually tell if a website is running the mobile version by the presence of the letter “m” in the URL. Browser settings on all personal devices typically allow you to select a preference for mobile versions.
Stick to the mobile version whenever possible and your data usage will be lower.
3: Avoid updating online documentsUpdating documents online is a great way to collaborate, ensuring everyone is working from the same version of the document and that the latest version is always the one that is visible to all members of your team. It also uses data regularly, and as long as the document, it is open, it will update continually from the location that hosts it.
Consider downloading the document once, making the required changes and then uploading the new document once to its shared location. This will reduce unnecessary data usage, as well.
4: Minimise usage of Videos
Video is a great communication tool, but it can also be the most data-intensive medium available to us. Consider whether text and images could convey the message as effectively, and if not, then reduce the bandwidth of the videos you are viewing or sharing with your audience.
5: Reduce usage of Video Conferencing
Video Conferencing is an excellent collaboration tool, especially when you’re working in a distributed working environment (as many of us are now). It can also place heavy demands on your existing connections, degrading call quality and sharply increasing your data usage for each additional video connection on the call.
Stick to audio connection instead wherever possible, sharing a single screen to display any data that everyone needs to refer to.
6: Don’t Clear your Cache
Retaining data in your cache means that you will maintain website data locally, allowing web sites to load more quickly as there is no need for the data to be downloaded again from the server. Emptying the cache will free up internal memory and help the system run more smoothly, but it will also consume data as it is downloaded again each time you visit the website.
Task managers and cleaning utilities often delete the cache, so if you have one of those installed add your browser to the list of excluded apps.
7: Avoid CCing people with large Attachments
While working together in the office, we have become more casual about sharing large files for reference across one or more teams. Still, when trying to reduce data usage, it is best to avoid CCing people unnecessarily. For the remaining audience, we recommend sharing a link to the file in a shared location so that they can download it once if they need to view it.
Otherwise, every addressee will download the file with the e-mail, whether they view it or not.
8: Consider using a Text-Only Browser
There are several third-party browsers or extensions for your existing browsers which remove images from a website and display only the text. By not downloading the images – generally the largest files on any web page – your device will use up less data.
You can easily find a text-only browser that suits your OS here: https://techiestechguide.com/top-10-text-only-browser/
9: Make your Cloud Data available offline
Many of us keep our files on the cloud, using OneDrive or Google Drive simply out of habit. This cloudstorage syncs our data and files in the background and uses Internet data. To save data usage, keep your records offline instead of in the cloud – setting your folders to ‘make available offline’ instead. You can also disable auto-syncing of cloud services and do this manually when required.
10: Consider reformatting your E-mail Signature
Some of us send out e-mails dozens of times a day, which means even a small reduction in the data size of our e-mail signatures can have a significant impact on our data usage, as well as every addressee. Consider removing any unnecessary images from your signature to make the data usage as low as possible.