Archive for May, 2010

Social Networking: Data Transfer and Bandwidth consumption

May 31, 2010

Most of us do socialize one way or the other over the internet. Chatting and emailing are very common these days. The latest trend is the portals providing some kind of CMS (Content Management System) features.

These allow you to upload, arrange and share digital content online. These are becoming a craze now-a-days. Photographs & videos are the most shared content. With cameras on mobiles everybody has something to show. These portals offer their services for free and are quite user friendly. The prominent are Facebook, Flickr & YouTube etc.

I too have a accounts and am using them though not very frequently. Many of my friends and collegues were using it so I too wanted to give it a try. Never cared anything else about them untill a new problem was pointed out to me by my boss.

It was two or three weeks back that my boss called me and handed over a document. It was our internet bill from Airtel. So what was so unusual about it. We have a broadband connection. He told me that our internet usage and hence the bill is constantly increasing every month in contrast to the more or less stable amount of Rs. 2500/- pm. As Tech Support he asked me to look into the matter and talk to the customer care of the service provider to check if they are not making any mistake. I sent them a mail but as usual still am waiting for a reply. So I started exploring the things myself.

My tool was my cell phone. I have a Nokia 5130 ExpressMusic and have a Airtel connection on it. I have subscribed to the Data Packet Service as I am using it as modem to connect my PC at home to the internet. This service offers a download of upto 2GB for a month. So everytime I disconnect my Cell from my PC after using the internet it gives me the exact amount of data download that is left with me out of the 2 GB allocated. This way I can have some idea how much download or upload I did for the session. Browsing is free with this plan.

Now I started observing for normal internet usage like email checking, working on UNIX/Linux server with SSH and general browsing very little amount of data was transferred as there was just a connection and very minimal download/upload. But when using such social networking websites the amount of data usage increased. So here was atleast one of the reasons for increase in the internet bill at my office.

There can be many reasons that contribute directly or indirectly to the increase in data transffer amount in internet usage. But these social networking sites are one of the biggest contributers towards data transffer. They support multimedia content like images and video/audio clips. Users are uploading and downloading such content innocently without knowing the amout of actual data transffer and bandwith they are spending from their allocation. For limited download and bandwidth plans they prove to be costly and for unlimited plans they slow down other applications sharing the internet.

So, there can be two solutions to this problem. The Ist one is democratical. Here the all the people working in the office can be educated about the menance of social networking and what it is costing your company in terms of fat internet bills and wastage of office time. It is a cheap method and complete cooperation is a must from all the employees.

The second method can be use of technology. A firewall or a network monitoring software can be used to block access to such portals. A good software can prevent the misuse of the internet and prove to be cost efficient in the long run.