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Internet, Networking, and Wireless Discussion of networking, internet, and wireless including Apple's Airport products.

Internet Use (in GBs)


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RMF1949

 
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Can anyone confidently answer this question?

Q: Is it possible to use .5 GB of data in only an hour of web browsing? No large image, music or video files were downloaded during this period.

Full story: Our current provider is DISH, which sells it's internet packages in terms of GBs. We have the highest tier; 30 GB/month. On their website, they have an active bar chart that's supposed to be recording your usage, so you can monitor it.

When our account began, three months ago, my wife said she didn't think the bar chart was moving at all, and I agreed. She called DISH and explained it to them. Within a couple days, the bar chart was indeed recording some usage.

Well, this morning I was monitoring it, and all I did during an hour's time was browse some websites (combination of text and images). As I mentioned above, I did NOT download any large files of any kind. Actually, the only images I downloaded amounted to nothing more than 767 KB or .0007 GB.

Do you feel that DISH networks usage chart is realistic? .5 GB in an hour?
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MacInWin

 
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What OS? What version? It's not uncommon for applications to use the network connections as long as they are running. The red "X" does NOT stop applications, it just pushes them into the background where they continue running. So it is entirely possible that something is using your network connection. You can open Activity Monitor and see the traffic on your network from that one machine, but any other machine connected to your Dish network could also be using the bandwidth. Of course, you may also have a neighbor who is connecting and using your bandwidth if you don't have a secure wireless network!

- Jake
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Raz0rEdge

 
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While you, actively, might not have been downloading anything large there's no reason that other things weren't happening in the background..

In this day and age of always on broadband connections, more and more applications feel readily happy to call home to download whatever they want regardless of the size without asking for permission.

You might want to checkout the 4 applications listed in this article. SurplusMeter is free and will give you a good snapshot of where you stand. Activity Monitor is included with OS X and also works.

So the best thing is for you to do the following. Reboot your machine and open up Activity Monitor, go to the Network tab and you should see the amount of data you've downloaded/uploaded and it should be at 0 or close to it. Now open up the DISH monitor and keep both handy, go about your normal browsing and once the hour has passed. Check to see what the DISH monitor and Activity Monitor report and see if they jive with each other or if they're way off..

To contain this experiment, you want to make sure that your Mac is the only one doing the browsing during this test, since Activity Monitor is only looking at your device and the DISH monitor is watching all devices in your home..

--
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...Ashwin



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RMF1949

 
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Thanks for your participation in this issue.

FYI, there is only this one computer in the house. Nothing else is connected to it, other than the printer and the outboard audio system. No video games connected to it nor is it used for that purpose.

I'm running a Mac OS 10.7.5

My nearest neighbor is a quarter mile up the road, and (forgive me) I don't think either of them are bright enough to be hacking my satellite connection.

After posting here, I downloaded SurplusMeter and will be monitoring it's measurements and comparing them to the DISH online meter.
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Raz0rEdge

 
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As part of the always on connected world, the number of homes like yours with a single Internet connected device is dwindling as well..

I have in my home at least 12 Internet connected devices across me, my wife and our daughter.. So tacking data usage is nearly impossible here..that's why I have an uncapped FiOS connection, but I realize that not everyone has access to uncapped high speed Internet..

Since you've downloaded SurplusMeter, you might want to see what all three (SurplusMeter, Activity Monitor and DISH online meter) report to see if they all say the same thing..

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...Ashwin



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RMF1949

 
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Dear Raz0rEdge,

I have never before used the onboard Activity Monitor. While I'm no newbie, this seems to be quite a technical app. Can you explain to me what to highlight, what to click, etc. to use this application regarding internet data flow?

Also interesting ~ I had the SurplusMeter running but NOT Safari, and yet there appeared to be a small flow of data going on, according to the SurplusMeter. What's up with that?

EDIT: I may have been wrong about that last statement. After posting, I shut off Safari and watched SurplusMeter. There was no data flow being recorded.

Thanks so much.
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Raz0rEdge

 
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SurplusMeter will show you any traffic and it doesn't have to be just Safari, identifying who is a different story but the purpose of this exercise is to just understand that there might be other applications/services that are taking up your bandwidth while you are browsing..

As far as Activity Monitor is concerned, look at the image below..



While the app is loaded with info, you only care about the Network tab as highlighted in the picture and the "Data in" and "Data out" numbers. These should start at or near zero on a fresh boot and then start counting up. It is expected that your "Data out" number might not be huge unless you're doing a lot of video chatting or uploading files. So your "Data in" number is what you care more about and that should be similar to what SurplusMeter reports and hopefully what DISH online meter says as well..

--
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...Ashwin



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RMF1949

 
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Thank you, Raz0rEdge for the prompt replies and good advice. I will be monitoring things tomorrow.

This could get interesting...
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Good luck with your sleuthing..I'd be curious to see how close DISH online meter is to either SurplusMeter or Activity Monitor..I've seldom seen these ISPs meters be accurate in what they report..

--
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...Ashwin



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RMF1949

 
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Ashwin,

The results are in. I monitored my usage for 30 min.

5:15AM
DISH at 2.199 GB
Surplus Meter 0

5:45AM
DISH 1.8 GB (408.5 MB)
Surplus Meter 379.6 MN

USED
DISH .399 GB (408.5 MB)
Surplus Meter 379.6 MB

DISH is reading 7.6% high

Is this acceptable? I am an audio technician, and any digital test equipment is expected to operate within pretty tight tolerances. Analog equipment might operate within a 1-2% range, so by my standards, DISH readings are way out of tolerance. And I'm being charged for this.
Worse, multiply that by a potentially large group of customers. Now, you're talking real money.

I will be talking to a DISH tech rep this morning.
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Are the Mb equivalent? Some folks use 1,000,000 bytes as a megabyte, and some use 1024X1024, or 1,048,576 bytes as a megabyte. The difference is about 5%. Similarly, at the GB it's either 1,000,000,000 bytes or 1024 x 1024 x 1024 or 1,073,741,824 bytes. That's close to the 7.6% difference you are seeing.

- Jake
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Well first thing, going back to your original post, you asked if it was possible to use .5 GB (approx 500 MB) during one hour of web browsing and based on your 30 min test (ignoring the discrepancies between DISH and SurplusMeter for a second) with a usage number between 380MB and 409MB, I'd say that using up 500 MB during an hour is definitely possible..

Now dealing with the discrepancy between DISH and SurplusMeter, frankly I'm a little surprised that they're only off by 8%. I was expecting at least 15-20% higher on DISH's side..

Either way, while the difference is present, it's hard to isolate it to what. The best I can do is tell you that of the 408.5MB that DISH said you used, you actually used 379.6MB. Now does the 28.9MB account for overhead and other stuff? Probably not..but you'd be hard pressed to have DISH explain the difference in any meaningful way since the people who do the metering and the customer service people are separate and have no way what's being counted other than knowing what the number is..

I would, however, suggest a couple more 30 mins tests to see if you see a consistent 8% difference or if that varies as well..

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...Ashwin



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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
Are the Mb equivalent? Some folks use 1,000,000 bytes as a megabyte, and some use 1024X1024, or 1,048,576 bytes as a megabyte. The difference is about 5%. Similarly, at the GB it's either 1,000,000,000 bytes or 1024 x 1024 x 1024 or 1,073,741,824 bytes. That's close to the 7.6% difference you are seeing.
Good point Jake..

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...Ashwin



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RMF1949

 
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I'm unable to tell you what increments are used by either DISH or the Surplus Meter app I used for this test period, but thank you for making your point.

You might find this entertaining:

The first DISH tech rep basically said there's nothing he could do for me. He actually said that 30 minutes was not a big enough sample measurement. Oh, really? I told him I'd be happy to monitor it for as long a period as he liked; that the larger the sample, the more accurate the results, assuming the math/measurement was valid.

I continued with,"Well, if DISH made some kind of adjustment back in July, then obviously they have the capability to adjust it again." You don't have to be a genius to know that something doesn't look right.

I asked to be transferred to a higher tier and I was. I got the guy's ID information, and he did seem to be a bit brighter than the first guy, reacting accordingly to some of the technical terms I was using.

In the end, the second guy wasn't any more helpful, but he did try to sweeten the pot by offering me 1 free GB (oh, gee thanks) and 3 PPV coupons. What, no t-shirt?

Eventually, we'll get away from DISH and back to cable, but my curiosity was getting the best of me. I've seen enough of these class action suit commercials on TV and wondered just what has to happen to set one up. I mean, the lawyers are gonna get paid, so if they think there's money to be milked, hey....

I'll have a brief phone conference later today.

This isn't an accurate example, but if they're charging us $116/mo for our bundled package, 8% overcharge adds up to +$111 a year. Now multiply by customer base....
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I would bet that somewhere in the fine print of the agreement you signed, or agreed to when you signed up, is a clause about the bandwidth. And I'll be that the language there will cover any differences between what you measured and what they report. Could be wrong, but if I was in the internet business, I know I'd have that language there!

- Jake
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