We might have heard it occasionally from our friends or family that they have run out of the internet or how they have very little data left. You might have seen such people running towards free wifi spots or might ask you to turn on hotspots so that they can remain connected to the internet. This happens because of the digital world we live in, in which everyone needs to remain online every second.
The dependence on the internet has become so crucial that people can’t even afford to go offline for even a moment. This makes sense as we observe our surroundings and see that most of our professional and personal tasks require the internet, whether work from home or online education; even simple tasks like staying updated with news or posting on social media are done over the internet.
But, we all know already how important the internet has become for us, and the actual question posed here is, what is all the fuss about running out of the internet? This is the question we will try to answer today. By hearing the phrase running out of the internet, we imagine the internet as a car that runs out of gas and stops moving; well, this comparison is accurate to some extent but not entirely.
However, there are some other options for users who are extra cautious about data. For example, it is recommended to go with providers who offer unlimited data for data-heavy users. Yes, providers like Spectrum don’t set any specific data limit to users, and all their internet plans have unlimited data. But for, users who are with providers that set a specific data limit might want to know more about the term “internet data” so that they can conserve their usage.
Internet is a service and not a tangible thing that can be emptied, but here some technicalities about the internet should be kept in mind, which will make us understand how it works. Once we understand the working of an internet connection, we can better figure out how a user can “Run out of Internet?”
How the Internet Works
The internet is fundamentally a flow of data; giant machines called servers are installed on your ISP’s end that takes this data from undersea submarine cables. The data is then sent to individual connections through transmission cables. These end connections are scattered in an area to which an ISP sends the data, and these connection nodes are users whose houses are fitted with an internet connection.
There are machines like internet modem connected at an end user’s house that receive that data and then divide it across several devices either in wired form through Ethernet cable or wirelessly through wireless routers. Similarly, the data sent from the user’s end takes the same route back to ISP and is transmitted through its server to the receiving end.
The data sent to the user goes through downloading, while the data users send back to the server is called uploading. Similarly, the speed at which the user gets the data is download speed, while the speed through which the user sends data to servers is called upload speed. This speed determines how fast the user gets data and how quickly it can send it back.
The higher the download speed is, the faster the user gets data in the receiver device that can be anything from a computer or smartphone. Likewise, the faster the upload speed is, the faster the user can send data back through the internet to the desired server.
We demonstrate this by an example; people go for high speeds because it allows them to download things faster, stream videos quickly without buffering, and even play games without lag. Similarly, those with fast upload speed can quickly share documents online and upload heavy pictures and video files on their social media account pretty quickly.
Measuring Internet Speeds and Data
We have a clear understanding that the internet is the name of the flow of data. Whether this flow is in the shape of download or upload. Transmission data is usually measured in Mbps or Gbps where Mbps is Megabits per second, and 1 Mbps equals 1024 Kilobits, where Gbps is Gig 1 Gbps equals 1024 Megabits per second. So these are the units for transmission speeds.
However, the actual data that we download or upload is in Bytes, not bits, where 8 bits equals 1 Byte. So theoretically speaking, an internet connection of 1 Mbps will take approximately 8 seconds to download a file of 1 MB.
The files in our system are in MBs or GBs where 1 MB is a Megabyte equal to 1024 Kilobytes and 1 GB, or Gigabyte is equal to 1024 Megabytes. The data provided by an ISP is also in Bytes; it can be either a few hundred GBs or even in TB; 1 TB is equal to 1024 GBs.
Internet Data and its Effect on Usage
Anything we do on the internet takes data, whether it’s just checking emails, browsing social media, watching videos, doing video conferencing, or even playing online games on the internet. Because all this information is present on the remote server, to gain access to this data, a user requests access, and the relevant files are downloaded into a temporary memory of the user’s device called cache. Once the online activity is completed, the files present in the cache memory are removed.
So every time a new online activity is initiated, data is downloaded from scratch. So be mindful that no matter how many times you visit the same website, same page, or even watch the same video online, that data is consumed every time.
One more thing to note here is that the amount of data depends on the activity. For example, streaming a high-quality video at 4k takes more data than streaming the same video at standard definition since a high-quality video file is in GBs. In contrast, a standard video file can be a few hundred MBs. Similarly, a video that is 4 hours long will take more data than a video that is 4 minutes long.
A high-quality picture taken from a professional camera will be more data-heavy than a regular picture clicked by a smartphone. So one more option available for users on a tight data cap is to download video files and pictures, save web pages or take screenshots of the necessary information. Because when data is saved on the device, it allows users to access those resources without going online every time to view that data and deplete their monthly data limit.
Through this piece, we have tried to thoroughly explain the data units of the internet, how speed and data are measured, and how users can be mindful about their internet usage. We are sure that all this information will significantly help users understand their internet connection better, and they will be able to make the most out of it.