3 Simple Tricks for Beating Your Data Cap

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Last Updated: Dec 1, 2023
Ethernet cables
ISPs may throttle internet service if a user is found to exceed their data cap. (Image: Shutterstock)
  • Picking your plan based on your household’s data usage is one of the best ways to avoid hitting a data cap.
  • If you use cloud-based gaming applications, you might want to splurge for the unlimited data plan.
  • Every member of your household has to have personal responsibility for the amount of data they consume.

So, you’ve scored a deal on an internet plan from an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The download speeds are fast, the price fits within your budget, and the coverage is perfect for your internet needs. However, even the best internet plans come with limits. One of those limits comes in the form of data caps – set amounts of data used per month per household. While there are internet providers that offer unlimited data, it’s definitely more cost-efficient to invest in a plan with a set data cap. To make the most of these plans, here are three simple tricks to beat your data cap.

Plan Now, Save Later

Knowing exactly what you’ll be using the internet for might help you pick out a plan with a data cap that works for you. Not only will you be able to stay within budget, you’ll also prevent yourself from having to pay overage fees or experience throttled speeds. Light internet users may not need that high of a data cap compared to those who use the internet more frequently. It might also be worth looking into how much data usage will cost for an ISP.

Another thing to consider when thinking about your internet needs is the connection type, and by extension, your usage. While fixed wireless is a cost-effective option, it’s not the most ideal for hard-core internet users. Fiber, on the other hand, is capable of delivering fast download speeds but at a much steeper cost. Finding the perfect balance between how much data you need and what connection type works best can be a challenge; however, it’s something to keep in mind when looking at internet providers with data caps.

Limit Gaming Hours

Gaming headset and keyboard
Roughly 17 percent of online gamers who played at least once a month had a data cap on their internet plan. (Image: Shutterstock)

Streaming technologies have become vastly popular, and as a result, more people are prone to using streaming services in lieu of traditional cable TV for entertainment. The same concept applies to video games, which have their own types of streaming technologies.

Take Google Stadia, for example – a cloud gaming service developed and operated by Google. A December 2021 report stated that nearly 6 million out of 34 million daily gamers would exceed their data caps if Google Stadia became their primary gaming destination. In fact, this would result in customers using as much as 1 TB of data in a month – and that’s only accounting for Google Stadia use alone, assuming a one-user household.

It’s important to note that 62 percent of the gaming population listed here don’t have internet plans with set data caps, while 21 percent of them were unsure about whether or not their internet plan had a data cap. Since it’s easy for video games to consume a lot of data in a short amount of time, be mindful of the time spent downloading and playing games.

One Device, Many Uses

If you’re the only internet user in your household, it’s easier to keep track of how much data you’re using and when you’re likely to reach your data cap. But if you’re living with other people, the chances of multiple devices being used simultaneously is very high; this means the chances of meeting or exceeding your data cap may be sooner than you’d like.

This may seem daunting to tackle at first. Is there really a possible way to consolidate data usage in a way that pleases everyone? Realistically, the answer is no. There may be times when someone in your household will need to browse the web for work while someone else in a different room could be watching a TV show or movie on a different device. However, there is a workaround for this, and that’s to make the most out of a single device whenever possible.

As mentioned before, if you’re the only person using the internet, the only devices to consider are your own. One personal computer is capable of streaming, online gaming, and web browsing, depending on your specific digital needs. If a multi-user household also uses just one personal computer for all of their internet needs, then the costs would be nearly identical, assuming data usage is the same. If there’s a need for additional utilities like TV, planning around group events like watching movies together could be a fun experience while also making the most out of the data cap.

To Exceed or Not to Exceed

Regardless of which method you use to keep at or below your data cap, there will eventually be moments where going over your data limit is needed for specific reasons. It happens to the best of us – even those that are the most mindful of using it. With the right tools and knowledge, however, it’s possible to keep these experiences at a minimum and give you a sense of peace about being able to beat your data cap.