Top

My On the Road Data Diet

May 9, 2011 by Chris Guld · 28 Comments 

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to our E-mail Digest or RSS Feed. We will then send you the stories that are posted each day in an e-mail digest. We use a service called Feedburner for delivery of these emails. You will receive an e-mail from Feedburner after you subscribe and you must click on that email to activate your subscription. Thanks for visiting and enjoy all the information!

RV.Net Blog Admin

How I Exceed My 5 Gigabyte Limit with Verizon

verizonThis is not a good thing!  The point is to stay within your contract limits.  When you go over, there are extra charges. 

Our contract allows 5 Gigabytes of data usage per month.  Check the image at right and you’ll see that we’ve used over 4 Gigabytes and we’re only on day 8 of 31!  Looks like I’ll have to go on a data diet for the rest of the month.

What’s a Gigabyte?

Data usage is simply Internet use as opposed to voice.  Voice plan usage from your cellular provider is measured in minutes, Internet/Data usage is measured in Megabytes/Gigabytes.  Data usage is also referred to as Downloading, Uploading, or Bandwidth.  Think of it like a stream of water going thru a hose, email and other text is just a trickle, video is a firehose.  You’re measured by how much data is going thru the connection – what you’re looking at, not the time you’re online.

Each Gigabyte is roughly 1,000 Megabytes.  We teach people that 5 Gigabytes is usually plenty for a month of one person doing normal browsing, email reading and maybe some Youtube watching.  But, if you share that connection with multiple computers, or you watch a lot of video, then 5 Gigabytes won’t be nearly enough.

Just to give you an idea, a large, high resolution picture that you view on the web may consume about 1 Megabyte.  You’d have to view 1,000 of those pictures to hit one Gigabyte of usage.  Over the period of one month, you might view 1,000 pictures on the web.  Watching a typical, standard quality, 3-4 minute Youtube video will use roughly 10 Megabytes. So you could watch 100 of those for 1 Gigabyte of data usage.  See this article from the folks at evdoinfo.com for a chart: What does 5GB (Gigabytes) Get Me?  Here’s another article for more detailed info on data usage for videos.  The only thing we tell people they cannot do is to watch full length movies.  Watching one Netflix movie online can use up to 2 Gigabytes of your allotment right there. 

How Did We Go Over Our Limit?

We had not watched any online movies, so how did we rack up so much data usage so fast?  First of all, for the whole winter season, we were in one RV park where we contracted with Bell South for a DSL line.  DSL is nice and fast and has no limits.  So, we got spoiled.  We didn’t have to pay attention to data usage all winter.  Now that we’re back on the road, we need to be paying attention.  Both Jim and I are sharing our mobile hotspot Internet connection from Verizon.

Once I got a notice from Verizon, I did some checking.  One culprit is my Windows Updates.  I had automatically received Windows 7 Service Pack 1.  I checked Microsoft’s site and learned that it was over 1 Gigabyte in size!  We are also preparing to deliver a seminar remotely using Skype and screen-sharing.  Our practice session probably cost us us a 1/4 Gigabyte.  A couple days ago, I purchased the latest Microsoft Streets and Trips program and downloaded it.  That was 1.3 Gigabytes!  Pretty stupid on my part since I already had the trial version installed on my computer.  We now have a 4G mobile hotspot from Verizon and we were so excited to be in a 4G area around Nashville …  I may have watched a couple episodes of Glee on Hulu because it worked so well … hey, I call that research!

What Can You Do to Limit Your Data Usage?

We need to go on a data diet!  Here are the things that we are going to do:

  1. Always check for good Wi-Fi and use it when possible.
  2. Stay aware of our current data usage by checking our account stats online at verizonwireless.com/myverizon and logging into our account.  If you don’t know how to do that for your provider, give them a call and ask.
  3. Turn off automatic Windows Updates (Control Panel\System and Security\Windows Update)  note: if you do this, make sure to do your updates manually whenever you’re in a good Wi-Fi area.  Getting updates *is* very important.
  4. Turn off Carbonite online backup.  I love Carbonite, but it *does* use bandwidth to backup all new files I create to the backup website.  Since we’ll be on the road for quite some time, I’ll probably turn off the service completely and just use our ClickFree for backup.
  5. Turn off DropBox.  DropBox is a great utility that synchronizes a folder of data across multiple computers.  It does this by uploading them to a website and then downloading them to the other computers, so it uses double bandwidth (data transfer usage) going up and down!  If I remember, I’ll turn it back on when I’m connected to a good Wi-Fi signal.
  6. Stay away from Netflix and Hulu
  7. Limit our Video Skype calls.

How Much Does it Cost When you go Over Your Allotment?

Verizon used to charge 25 cents per Megabyte of overage.  That adds up quick!  If you went over by a Gigabyte, that would cost $250!  The fees today are much more reasonable – each Gigabyte of excess will be charged at $10/Gigabyte.  Check with your provider and your contract to see what your overage charges are.  If you’ve had your contract for a long time, you may even have an unlimited usage contract.  If that’s the case … don’t lose it!  Any change in your contract may get you started with a whole new contract – with new limitations.  The unlimited usage contracts are highly desirable.

Can I Increase My Limits?

This depends on your provider and the plans they offer.  Verizon does currently offer a 10Gigabyte contract for $80/month.  We might just have to do that. 

Kind of like those real diets … so often I give up and go buy some clothes in a larger size!  Smile

 

by Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger.  Members can view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Clickfree Backup is Good for Travelers

March 2, 2011 by Chris Guld · 520 Comments 

by Jim Guld, www.geeksontour.com

If you could backup your computers without any fuss, would you do it?

We’ve told you to backup, but do you?

Everyone knows you are supposed to backup your computer.  Backing up your files requires effort and organization.  Right?  You had to know which files to backup and where they were on your hard drive.  Some programs have their own backup utility.  Then, what do you use to hold the backup?  CD? DVD? USB thumb driive? The Cloud ?

Yes.  You need to back up in order to recover from a catastrophic loss of data.  Like if your computer crashed or was stolen.  Multiple backups in an offsite location are best.  That is one reason “Cloud” or Internet based backups are popular, but it’s not practical if your cellular Internet connection has a 5Gig limit.

I prefer to make my own backups.  I still archive my important data onto DVD disks and store them offsite.

Backup software has become less of a chore and disk capacities have increased, but you still need to configure the program.

If you can plug it in, you can make your backups

Backing up your important files is so easy now with a Clickfree backup.

Let me show you how.

Unpack the drive and plug it in to the computer.  Some embedded software wants to install on your computer.  It’s OK.  Accept the end user agreement, and you are done.  Within a minute, the program accesses your drive and begins looking for file types associated with data.  It continues on to back up all those files to the Clickfree hard drive.

DSCN9801 Fullscreen capture 2272011 114907 AM
Fullscreen capture 2272011 115507 AM Fullscreen capture 2272011 14658 PM

That is all there is to it.  At least, that is the way it worked with our computers.

Notice I said “computers.”  Plug the same Clickfree drive into another computer, and the Clickfree will back up the files it finds.  Separately.  Automatically.  Do all the computers in your place.

And, get this.  With our Clickfree C2N, if you have a local network with a router, you can keep the Clickfree device on one computer, and the other computers will find it and back up according to a schedule you set.

Fullscreen capture 312011 12232 PM Fullscreen capture 312011 12256 PM

 

Subsequent backups take much less time as only the newly changed files are backed up.

Now there is no excuse for not backing up your computers.  You just need to get a Clickfree and plug it in.

We got our unit from our friends at TechnoRV. They are wonderful folks who have some really cool products at good prices and offer knowledgeable support.  They are full-time RVers.  You will find them in the Exhibit hall at many RV rallies around the country.  See a video about TechnoRV.

The Clickfree comes in several capacities and prices, so you can choose the one that fits your needs.  Ours is a 640GB C2N.  We really like it.  I see that TechnoRV currently has that model on sale for $139 including a free cradle and case.

What about Restoring Files?

We can all agree that Clickfree makes backing up easy, but what about restoring files when you need them?  The Clickfree software has a simple Restore button on the main menu, then you have a choice for Quick Restore – or Advanced Restore.  Quick Restore will restore everything to the original locations.  Advanced Restore allows you to specify which files you want to restore and where you want them.

What if you lost the Clickfree software?  The backed up files are available thru the Windows Explorer as well.  This is something I really like in a backup system. If I have the hard drive, I have my files.  Even if I’ve lost the software somehow along the line.  You can browse the Clickfree drive.

image

Backup!  Backup!  Backup!

Do it now.  Clickfree makes it easy.

This tip by Jim Guld of Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Bottom