As I noted in a previous blog, Comcast (Concast)forces a cap on all of their customers of 250GB. Concast claims that this only affects about 1% of their customers, but I am sure the number is much larger, and this number would only increase as the demand for Internet resources increases.
If you do a lot of downloads, as I do. I on my own right do about 1.5GB, and would only increase as time goes on, than this could be a problem for a family of 4 (1.5GB x 4 people x 30 days = 180GB). This is just for computer downloads that are actively done. There is also streaming ( I watched 150 minutes last night alone), VOIP, OS updates, Anti-virus updates – all which consumes bandwidth. To make matters worst, Concast refuses to provide a meter showing how much bandwidth an account consumes.
So to help those unfortunate people who can not change, or don’t know better (which you would if you read my blog), I am going to help with some tips on making your life a little easier even if it means a little bit of an expense now.
First, if your home network has multiple computers with the same OS, consider downloading the service packs, and burn them to an optical disc. If the service pack needs to be installed on a PC, it would mean less download.
Next, if you are doing a lot of music downloads, and members of the family shares the music, consider a media server. This computer would store all of the music in one place. Try to not get DRM music as this would cause problems. Amazon is comparable to iTunes in price and has no DRM. In addition, it would import directly to iTunes. If you have one central location for the iTunes library, and all computes point to that place, than a song should only have to download once.
Next, invest in NAS. A NAS is Network Attached Storage. If programs are downloaded often, then these programs should reside in the NAS. Here is an example. I have Mozilla, Open Office, Skype and CA antivirus – all of which have complete downloads. If everyone in the family may use these programs, then someone should download these programs once, and set them in the NAS. When someone wants these programs, they would check the NAS first. A tech savvy family member should be the one to do this to make it easier. If there is a family blog, (s)he can make a note of it in the family’s blog so the other members can know what is available in the home network.
Stray away from Online backups, and cloud computing. This could kill your bandwidth. If you back your music, videos, or any other large files, you could count these files against you as they would have to go to the Internet. Instead, you should invest in a home server. Add up all of the computers’ drive capacities, and multiply by 3. For example, I have a computer with a 60GB, and another with a (soon) 320GB. In addition, I have a 250GB, and 160GB external drive. All together, that is 790GB of available capacity. I would want a home server that would have the capacity to back up 3TB. If you were to use online backup with a similar capacity, and only used half of the drive space, you would definitely go over easily. Even though the backup would only back up new files, your first time is all new files.
How much would all of this cost you? Well, if you decide to take all of my advise, a good home server would do everything for you. Well, you would need to load your server with 1TB drives. Anything less would be pointless. Many home servers would have 4 SATA drive bays. At $200 per drive, and about $500 for the server, you are looking at $1300 for a 4TB storage system. This would give you room to have a variety of computers, and of course music, and downloads. Windows Home Server maybe the easiest option, but would only work well with Windows 2k, XP, and Vista. Mac users may need to plug in an external drive. Just follow the 3 – 4 times rule (A 250GB drive would need 1TB backup drive).
This is a very expensive help, but if you use the Internet a lot, and if you are concerned about going over, you would then. However, your only other option will be another provider. If you live in a major city, this maybe an option. However, if not – you may have to take a small loan out to assure you would not go over. If you can move the bulk of your bandwidth usage internally, this will save for the stuff you have to use the Internet for.
If you live in Pittsburgh PA, you may want to consider using the ISP I do. They may not give you bursts of 6MBPS with the average of 1.5MBPS, but I get a steady connection of 3MBPS/512kbps. This means my upload speeds are better, and I am not forced to worry about my over the limit. My ISP also does not block ports which is wonderful for UMA services. From my knowledge, Consolidated Communications only serves much of Allegheny County. Their number is 1-724-933-9800.