Data usage tips

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Here's a thread anyone can add to when they've got a tip for maximizing data. Seems like every day we learn of a different way data can get eaten up without your realizing it. We can start off with this article from our help center, which hits some of the basics.

To get the most out of your Exede satellite internet service and stay within the bounds of your data allowance, consider these suggestions:

1. Check your usage regularly

Make it a habit to check your data usage regularly throughout your billing cycle — especially in the first few months of service. This helps you avoid surprises and gives you a feel for your pattern of usage – and how you and other users in your household may need to adjust it. To view your Usage Meter, log into your account through the Customer Portal.

2. Limit video time

Streaming and downloading video consumes more data than almost any other online activity. Pass that fact along to other users on your home network, then go one step further and install a Flash blocker on your browser to prevent video from loading automatically. 

3. Adjust video settings

Reduce video data consumption by lowering your screen resolution, an option available on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and most other video streaming sites. Read more in our Help Center article.

4. Tweak your usage habits

Save your heaviest consumption for late night or early morning and take advantage of the Free Zone: five hours of unmetered daily data use that comes with every Exede plan.

5. Keep outside users out

Spyware, malware and other programs can consume data without your knowledge. Use a program like F-Secure to detect such threats and keep them out. Plus, be sure to have your wireless router password protected so your neighbors aren’t getting a free data ride on your service!  For more information, take a look at our article Control who’s on your home network

6. Adjust your email settings

A simple change to your email settings can enable you to pre-approve or prevent data-heavy image displays and automatic attachment downloads. Just find the “settings” menu on whichever email program you’re using. See the example below for Gmail.

Gmail settings

7. Check file sizes before emailing

Before hitting send, check the size of photos and other attachments, and if possible, downsize them.
Downsize photos before sending them to 500 kb or less with Mac’s iPhoto or Windows programs like Windows Live Photo Gallery or Gimp or Google’s Picasa.
Consider using links instead of emailing a lengthy document. For instance, include a YouTube video link over a data-heavy PowerPoint with video.

Turn off auto-play video features
Sites like Facebook will load and play videos automatically, so turning off this feature can save a lot of data usage. Disabling auto-play won’t prevent you from watching videos. You can simply click on any video you want to watch and it will start playing almost immediately. In order to disable and/or limit the auto-play feature on any device, navigate to the ‘Settings→ Video’ for the relevant application, such as Facebook. See below for how to turn off the video auto-play feature on desktop computers:
Here’s an article on how to disable auto-play on popular browsers.
Here’s Facebook’s post on the topic.

9. Last resort:
 If you’re consistently bumping up against your cap, Buy More data on our website — it’s $9.99 per gigabyte. Or you can move to an Exede plan with a larger data cap (there’s never a charge to change plans). 

Learn more in our Data allowance 101 article.

Also, here's The Big Thread of Data Conservation Tips & Tricks from our other forum, which has some good stuff in it.
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Alex, Viasat Corporate Communications

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Posted 5 years ago

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Any of the cloud services can wreck your data usage and it will be done quietly in the background.  This includes cloud services from Google, Apple, Microsoft Live, Dropbox, etc.
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david, Champion

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My sister in law brought her Ipad and Iphone to our house on a couple day visit one time. It did ugly things to our data.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Not to mention cloud services that are now embedded in wireless routers these days and don't even require your connected devices to be on/active. Most are off by default but worth checking to be sure. The lure of certain features can be hard to resist. I assume one would be cognizant of the USB drive plugged into the router, but again who knows.

Got a printer accessed by your router? Are you sure it's not monitoring your consumables and phoning home so that the manufacturer can send you an email to buy ink or in some cases automatically delivers? Again rare, but know folks who've done it for convenience... but are on wire-line internet.  

All appears as internet traffic to our friend Mr. Dapsworth.                   
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david, Champion

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If you have Win 8 it comes will all sorts of things that run and use data in the background. You have to either disable or uninstall several things when you get a Win 8 install. Also, Win 8 defaults to a cloud user and you have to change it to a local user. I'm sure at least a few of the data problems people are having here are caused by this.

By using Reality Ripple's Satellite Restriction Tracker program you can have a record in 15 minute intervals (or what ever other interval you want) so you can look back and see when Exede says you've used how much data.
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1) Pay attention to what some of us in the networking backend like to call strays.  Network strays are random programs / products / peripherals / applications that cause unknown, unwarranted, or unwanted network traffic.  As simple as it sounds, most people don't know or care what their stuff is doing as long as it works the way they want it to, when they want it to.  This "working right" in modern day computing typically includes some functionality for keeping data in sync, so it's important to know what your programs / applications are actually doing behind your back.  Mobile phones are definitely an example of a common stray.

2) I would consider turning off JavaScript/Flash/etc for normal web viewing, unless you really need it.  Certain websites do need it for proper functionality because their usage is deeply tied to it, but many big names provide alternatives, for example Google Mail's non-JavaScript site.  While functionality is important, if it's not as important to you as the content, try loading the page without these technologies enabled and see if you can deal with the result.  For example a lot of advertisements are initiated / piped in through JavaScript, so you can lower the throughput (and the number of ads) simply by having it off.  Toward this end, there are things like ad blockers and whatnot which based on the way they filter content may achieve a similar result.  Also many web browsers have built in blocking and exception filtering for certain types of content, such as for JavaScript and Flash.  Setting these up may help.  (Example: I read a lot of web comic stuff.  I recorded my normal usage with everything enabled before I migrated to satellite which had come out to something like 1 GB over 8 hours of roughly nonstop Saturday web trolling [yeah, it was a fairly unproductive day :P].  After repeating the next day with JavaScript and Flash disabled, it ended up being somewhere around 200 MB.  So roughly 80% of the content I was seeing was due to JavaScript piped-in advertisements, Flash advertisements, AJAXed in commentary for each page I viewed, and so on.  This is just my own personal example, but the idea that these technologies can have a major impact on your web traffic remains true.)

3) Routers are wonderful, but even so it's usually a hassle to modify the firmware on them, and companies aren't USUALLY really quick on the guns for doing so.  I find it's a better solution to, instead of running your modem into a router, run it through an actual computer and then share everything out from there.  The ability to directly control the way your network traffic flows/works is why I'm suggesting a computer in front of your router.  Single entry points are typically easier to maintain and fix/troubleshoot.  Low-cost routers don't usually have scriptable interfaces, and creating custom hardware solutions is well beyond the scope of the non-technical... however a properly configured computer at the front of your network can be exactly that - something you completely control and can make do exactly what you want.

One of the really big things I'd suggest looking into for this computer at the front of your home network is a good web-caching proxy.  For people that read web content regularly (non-streaming) on satellite from the same websites, this should noticeably help you out.  The proxy will store the website data you view, and anytime a device behind it queries that same information, instead of pulling it from the internet again and incurring the traffic cost, it will pull it from the computer where the proxy is located on your own network, incurring minimal internet traffic usage.  If you got your satellite modem from ViaSat/Exede with your subscription like I did, your modem probably already has their built in web-proxy.  Either it is not actually a caching-proxy, is misconfigured, or just sucks, because I've had nothing but terrible results from it and I don't recommend relying on it.  The difference I had between it and my own proxy was like night and day.  It's embedded into the modem, so changing anything about it would require a firmware update too.  I recommend running your own that you have full control over.  I personally use Squid.  That's not to say there aren't other great proxies, so I suggest looking into them and finding one you like.  (I've only ever handled proxies on *nix systems, such as nginx, Squid, and Traffic Server.  As such I can't even guess as to what would work well/easily on a Windows machine.  Sorry.)

4) Whether it's a computer or a router handling entry to your network, it probably has some form of traffic management, which I suggest you make use of.  The idea is to let the computer/router handle allowing/disallowing traffic so you don't have to keep track.  This really falls more into the whole "designing a better network" concept than something simple you can use/install to help such as the web-caching proxy idea.  For example, I have a separate computer I use for downloading/uploading large files.  Through the scriptable controls in my router, I have the actual port on my router that machine is connected to completely disabled outside of 00:00 - 05:00 (free zone timeframe).  Most hardware doesn't have this capability without huge cost incurred (and I myself acquired it through salvaged and manually adapted CISCO chips), but the concept itself is what we're talking about.  Most computers and routers, even if it's in software and not hardware, have the ability to prevent/allow traffic during certain times and/or for <x> criteria.  As much of a pain as it is for Satellite users, a blanket policy of "DO NOT WASTE MY BANDWIDTH YOU ARE DENIED/REJECTED/DROPPED" and then adding "allowed" exceptions on top of that is the way to ensure you're only using the bandwidth for what you want, and you know where it's going.  Even if you don't get into in-depth networking <blah blah blah insert IT stuff here>, some really simple policies set up intelligently can save you from mishaps with your data allowance.

I apologize for not being as brief as I probably should have been, and if I think of anything else, on my next visit I'll add it.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Since I don't see it mentioned here yet, disable automatic updates so that you're only notified that they are available and not automatically downloaded.

Windows Updates

The following Windows Update setting is frequently misinterpreted:

This only determines when updates are installed not downloaded, When selected, downloads will occur anytime at Windows discretion. Instead, choose the following option:

This will notify you when updates are available and allow you to determine when they are both  downloaded and installed - preferable LNFZ, EBFZ or when you have some excess data to burn.

The other settings there also determine how other Microsoft product updates are downloaded and installed. However, they don't appear to affect updates to Office 365 which uses it's own settings. Currently, the only way I see to ensure you have control over Office 365 updates is to disable them, manually check for any updates, re-enable, download & install immediately, and then disable when done using the Account Settings (File, Office Account):    

Finally, check other applications you have that may automatically download/update. Each is different, but generally have a check for updates without downloading option available.

P.S. It's worth reiterating the importance of both AdBlock Plus and FlashBlock. While some question the ethics of blocking ads, the fact is they're being delivered on our dime with Exede plans. AdBlock Plus has the side-benefit of a commercial-free browsing experience and is most effective for dynamically delivered ad content in terms of data usage. Determine whether your browser supports add-ins of this genre since YMMV. Once the advertisers pay for their delivery, I'll watch them - particularly those involving dogs or clydesdale horses (or in some cases both at the same time).

While at it, thanks to Exede Alex for starting this and getting the prominent orange link on the home page, it'll save me a lot of repetitive typing and dramatically decrease my upload usage by trimming it down to here read this

P.P.S. Some further elaboration on the need for good anti-virus protection... it's not enough to have protection, you also have to ensure you keep the virus definitions up to date as new ones appear on a daily basis - until the definitions are updated you have some exposure to new creepy-crawlies. Naturally, these updates chew into your data, but most virus definition updates are relatively small and can be applied once available regardless of what time it is.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Windows 8.1 Part 1

All of this applies to those on limited plans, but might be useful for those on the virtually unlimited Freedom plan (if you've received a strongly worded email from Exede's Mr. Dapsworth since virtually unlimited means limited or are simply curious about how you can use that much data).     

If you’re running Windows 8.1 or have updated to it from Windows 8, the default setup asks that you provide or signup for a Microsoft Live account. Taking this route, you’ll find that Windows 8.1 is then fully cloud-enabled – not necessarily a bad thing for those on wire-line internet connections with unlimited data plans, but disastrous for those on satellite internet plans having limited data plans and you’ll soon be buying more or requesting your 5GB Great Gig Giveaway.   

So, first things first for those who are logging into Windows with a Microsoft Live account or even a local user account if using Windows wireless through your home router...

  1. Bring up your lucky charms bar (swipe from the right edge of the Start screen), and select Settings (the charm that looks like a gear).
  2. At the bottom of the Settings panel select Change PC Settings.
  3. At PC Settings, select Network.
  4. At Network, click (or tap as it’s now called) your network icon under the Wi-Fi section.
  5. Finally under the network connection’s Data usage section ensure that “Set as a metered connection” is turned on.
  6. Tap the back arrow a couple of times to return to PC Settings.
  7. From PC Settings, tap PC and devices.
  8. From PC and devices, tap Devices and finally ensure that “Download over metered connections” is turned off.
  9. Swipe in from the top and tap the close button.
  10. Painstakingly follow all of the recommendations in the posts above this one.
  11. Finally go through all of the Apps on the Start Screen and right tap to bring up a context menu – for any that have a “Turn live tile off” item select it.
  12. Once certain that, all of the above is accomplished you can probably turn metered mode back on under the network connection above, and then selectively turn those live tiles back on for those Apps you can’t live without but exercise some caution until you get a handle on the "new Windows experience" - I'm still experimenting with this last one.
Note that if you're connected to your router via an Ethernet cable you'll likely not find anything regarding metered connections and can skip any metered connection steps above.

In part 2 as time permits, I'll explain how to break free from the shackles of a Microsoft live account but for now, click here.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Windows 8.1 Part 2

For those who may have fallen prey to the not so obvious ramifications of the default Microsoft Live  account login process of Windows 8.1 and would like to establish a local Windows user account instead, there's no real reason for a lengthy write-up here. Instead, TechRepublic offers a fairly straight forward article at:

If that one doesn't fit your style:

P.S. And of course see the following for additional Windows 8.x usage suggestions:
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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So finally after much caution, preparation and having a lot of data left before the witching hour and monthly meter reset at midnight, I decided to turn my wife's Surface Pro with Windows 8.1 loose this AM.

I disabled metered mode and enabled live tiles for news, weather and financials like she wanted and let 'er rip for a typical day of use (email, browsing for recipes to keep me and the dogs fed, quilting sites, and some light shopping). Financials will probably increase come Monday.

Right now after about 12 hours she's consumed a whopping .04GB and the only thing I really noticed was when switching to full screen on tapping the live tiles, it's important to actually close the app rather than just switching away otherwise they consume data until closed - something akin to having multiple tabs open in your browser.

So all of the above definitely helps including the non-Windows 8.1 tips and she's still under strict order to avoid videos (yeah, I know, I'm no fun but she can do that in the next 4 hours - actually 9 with LNFZ but that's her call).
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Is .04Gb  good.  I am new at trying to measure everything. I am working on it.  Did you read my data test post ??  What do you think.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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.04 GB simply represents her normal daily use or around 40MB and what she can live on for her needs (she's a light artsy-craftsy individual who prefers to work with her hands and use the internet more for reference purposes). On average she'll use somewhere around 1.2 GB a month, leaving me a lot to play with. with heavy use of the LNFZ, a 10 GB plan is sufficient to get my work done during the day. Everybody's needs are different, but if I find I needed more I'd either buy more or buy a bigger plan. I wish she were using .04Gb since that represents bits and would equate to 5 MB leaving me much more to play with - bits are usually used for speed representations.      

This has been a month long experiment since the Surface Pro toy came into the household and I was aware of Windows 8.1 reputation for a healthy data appetite ahead of time.

Everybody's circumstances and needs differ. There is no approved third party Exede usage monitor -  the usage monitor they provide is the only one that they rely upon in disputes.

Built-in router traffic monitoring is best in my opinion for novice users and allows monitoring multiple devices with little effort, followed by BitMeter and Networx, while Satellite Restriction Tracker (SRT) monitors what Exede thinks you are using.

In my case, all (since I've tried them all) are consistent with the Exede usage meter (actually the NRTC usage meter but they get the data from the same place that the Exede usage meter does for display purposes and the network infrastructure is the same).

So far it appears you are on the right track for monitoring use, but you'll need a larger sample over a longer period of time to draw any significant conclusions.  
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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When leaving your computer unattended, it's important to know the differences between simply walking away, lock, log off, sleep, hibernate and shutdown and how they may impact data usage.

Obviously when walking away, it's possible that applications you're using as well as services at the operating system level are capable of consuming data.

If you log off or lock during your absences, be aware of the potential for unattended data usage.

Logoff will close any applications you were using and operating system level services are still capable of consuming data. If you lock, applications aren't closed and are capable of consuming data as well as operating system level services.

The differences between sleep and hibernate are largely ones of power consumption. But there are ways to awaken your computer automatically according to schedule. Once awakened your data is fair game. When I walk away, I make it a habit  to close all applications and put the machine to sleep, and in my case all ViaSat modem activity ceases except for the occasional modem handshakes that occur.

Shutdown results in a power off and there should be no data consumption, but beware how your power options are configured since these are just general guidelines that can be impacted by those settings.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Even if you have taken the recommendations/suggestions made here and elsewhere to heart, you'll soon find that web site and application developers regularly come up with new and exciting ways to consume your data (they are frequently oblivious to the demands of satellite internet users). As a result you'll find it necessary to monitor your data usage on a regular basis and may need to make additional adjustments later on.

The easiest and most reliable way to monitor your usage is through your router provided it has built-in traffic monitoring facilities which you'll need to determine on your own (each router is different).

Barring that there are any number of freely available monitoring applications which can be recommended. These include:

Note that SRT is only as good as the data reported by the Exede usage meter and provides and easier method of tracking usage that Exede claims. 
Finally, there is open source firmware available to turn an inexpensive router into a more substantial powerhouse with some extended traffic monitoring features. See:

but be advised this last procedure is not for the faint of heart lest you turn your router into a paperweight .     
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Both AdBlock and FlashBlock extensions are frequently mentioned as ways to conserve data. Here are the links to each (both free): - currently available for 8 different browsers - limited to Mozilla, Firefox, and Netscape browsers - a Google search for flash blockers in general    
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water, along comes a new technology (well a not so new technology) looking to devour your data - HTML5 Video. The following link was posted over at the other forum:

Although not a YouTube user, it did cause me to look into it and led me to a couple of links:


However what's most disconcerting in those articles is the following statement by the author that with Firefox and FlashBlock:

"Take note that HTML5 videos will still buffer though they won’t start playing until you click the flash icon at the center of the video screen."

Something to consider as more and more web sites start serving up HTML 5 videos, and I'm continuing to investigate... may be a concern for those of us on limited plans so just a heads up at this time.
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Starring Matter

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OUCH OL, sorry about that.  Running NVidia here as well, so didn't see any problem.  Keep us posted please.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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No problem all was well after restart and uninstall of Flash Control and reinstall of FlashBlock.

Just a heads up to others especially those who continue to rely on FlashBlock - while FlashBlock blocks HTML 5 from playing, it doesn't block it from downloading yet and am glad I tried all my tests during the LNFZ - even if you play and pause it appears to continue downloading/buffering while paused - I'm  sure most of the Silicon Valley folks don't have to worry about data caps ;)

Next LNFZ updated drivers for the ATI display adapter and I also give Chrome a shot... FireFox is becoming annoying with too many updates.

Should also serve as a warning to those who claim loss of data and steadfastly deny watching videos - you don't have to actually watch them to use data!    
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Bill Napier

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All of this advice is's what the sell and promote.....So the BIG QUESTION IS.....Can you actually do what they say?



EXEDE12 - 25 GB
Our exede12 - 25 GB package is for people who want to do it all. You use your Exede Internet service for heavy web browsing, downloading music, and to connect with online entertainment services to watch your favorite movies and programming.

25.0 GB per month
Unmetered usage: 12am - 5am

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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Here's a thread anyone can add to when they've got a tip for maximizing data.
What part of that do you fail to grasp?
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you are so funny,"Old Lab". Its always a joy to read your post. Thank you for bring happiness to this community. 
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Reposting this from this other thread to keep tips in one place.

I'd tried Flash Control a while ago but it was one of the those causing my video driver to crash. Noticing that a more recent version was available decided to give it a try once again during LNFZ and no longer causes video driver problems (it may have also been caused by a conflict with AdBlock).

Unfortunately, HTML5 video behavior is similar to that when using FlashBlock and it only affects the autoplay attribute of HTML5 videos not the preload attribute as shown shown below:

Note that while autoplay has been blocked that the video continues to preload as evidenced by the tracker bar at the bottom (also confirmed by my router's realtime traffic monitor - chewing through 20 MB in a flash - at that point I decided to simply watch the video since the data damage had already been done (besides it was LNFZ anyway).

Going a step further went to another video and immediately played it and then immediately paused it as shown below:

As shown despite pausing at around the 6 second mark, the video continued to pre-load while paused and once again another 20 MB gone in a flash (also confirmed by my router's realtime traffic monitor) as it completed buffering by the time I finished the copy and paste.  

Nonetheless, I'll probably continue to use Flash Control since it does give a visible indication on whether dealing with Adobe Flash or HTML5 at least allowing me the opportunity to "get the heck outta there" quickly when it's HTML5.

My apologies to those who might consider this a "wall of text" or a "full blog post"... 140 characters or less just won't do it.

It's neither, just some information that all Exede subscribers on limited plans need to understand in terms of data usage since we frequently hear "but I don't watch videos" - you no longer have to "watch" them, it's enough that they simply be present on any sites that you may visit if the web site developer decided to utilize the preload attribute.

Further tests to determine if anything can be done are deferred since my LNFZ just turned into a pumpkin...

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