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Overusing data plans could cost you, a lot

Thursday - 10/6/2011, 7:04am  ET

WASHINGTON -- Don't drain your broadband databank sending mom huge pictures when lower resolutions will do.

Some wireless networks and internet providers are getting so strained by data demands they're slowing down speeds for top users, or charging more.

But, there are easy ways to pare down what you use.

Evaluate whether every friend in your contact list needs full sized pictures from your digital camera.

When using YouTube, Hulu or Netflix, choosing "good resolution" might require only one seventh of the data compared to the "best quality."

Also, cloud computing for music is a big drain compared to buying favorite songs to store locally.

Data belt tightening recommendations from the New York Times also include using bandwidth meters that measure how much you're using so you can keep track.

Put the brakes on pop up videos with web browser extensions that can temporarily block them. The Flashblock add on works with Firefox, for example.

Other tips?

Limit automatic backups that save every file on your computer to remote servers. Turn off automatic operating system updates so you can pick and choose just security updates for example.

And run good antivirus software. Malware can be a big data drain on your bandwidth.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)