Parental and Data Usage Control Tips

It’s very easy to find you’ve downloaded data or software that you didn’t mean to.

Maybe the kids got access to your iPhone and started playing games five hours ago.

Or maybe your mobile data plan blows out halfway through the month, even though you’ve barely used it.

This page provides information about:

  • ways to stop your kids from accessing stuff
  • ways to manage your own online usage
  • ways to stop your computers and devices from gobbling up data.

Click on the pages to find how to manage screen and data controls on individual computers and devices.

Keep scrolling for general data saving tips.

Usage and parental controls

These are systems that allow you to control who can access what devices, services, or internet pages at any given time.

They are particularly useful for managing child/student access to devices, keeping younger people safe online.

They are also useful in managing or preventing addictive internet behaviours or keeping you focussed on a particular task.

Such controls can form a key part of a cyber-safety program.

Other time-tracker apps

If you just need to track your time, you might find the Parental Controls or Screen Time systems too limiting. You may need to track and record time for work purposes, for example.

Look instead for apps or software that track, record, and manage your time. A web search for “time trackers” will bring up results for your specific computer or app.

Data saving per device

When you are on an internet or mobile phone plan with a specific amount of data, it becomes important to save and manage data wherever possible.

Even nbn™ Sky Muster™ Plus plans can be metered if too much data is downloaded at peak times – e.g. streaming too much Netflix during the day.

Remember at even 20 Mbps, you can use 9 GB in an hour!

If you seem to be using too much data and you’re not sure how, follow the below tips first, where possible. Contact your service provider and ask for a data usage log. This might help narrow down when all the data is being used.

Make sure you have worked through these tips before going to your internet provider for help if you can’t determine where your data is going.

WARNING: Do not click on any links or programs that promise to speed up your computer or internet connection.

These are almost certainly a scam and often contain malicious software. These links or ads are especially common on many popular speed testing websites.

Saving data in general

Manage downloads and syncing

●        Change how often “cloud” apps synchronise. Cloud (web-based) accounting software (for example, Xero) uses data by synchronising your local computer files with the remote ones – this is called “syncing”, and can occur as often as every 20 minutes. Change how often it syncs, or work offline and sync once a day. In one month you can use up to 40Gb of data if you are syncing often.

●        Cloud applications (like Dropbox, OneDrive etc) are useful features, but they don’t need to be syncing all the time. You also don’t need all your files in the cloud (like your photos folder), make sure you are only place files in the cloud that are necessary. Be aware that newer operating systems (by default) may automatically use cloud apps

●        Use a download manager program to schedule big downloads to occur during “off-peak” times. On nbn™ Sky Muster™ satellite services this is 1am – 7am, and your plan likely has extra “bonus” data during these times. Examples of download managers can be found here.

●        If you are downloading a big file and your connection drops out, that file can restart downloading again, if that happens a few times, a 2GB file can turn into a 10Gb download. Use a downloader program that when the connection drops out, picks up from where it was and doesn’t restart the download.

Videos, gaming, and TV

●        Watch videos on a lower resolution. This includes streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube (around 480p). When connecting at a slower speed, some things like videos etc are watched at a lower resolution. Unless you specify the quality, the app/program automatically uses the highest quality it can which is based on speed. You need to specify the quality in programs such as YouTube and Facebook, to use a lower quality and especially not to auto start. If you are watching YouTube at the highest quality it would take you 40 hours to use up to 40 GB of data.

●        Schedule Youtube video uploads to start during off-peak times. Click here to see how.

●        Check video game settings. Video game consoles can use a lot of data for game play and updates. For example, Xbox Live uses 50-100mb an hour. You also need to check the settings if you are connecting to the internet, to make sure updates don’t automatically download. A game update could be 15Gb to 20Gb in size, or even larger. While Sky Muster™ Plus doesn’t meter gaming services and updates, particularly large updates could trigger a slowdown as per the Fair Use Policy. If possible schedule these updates to occur in off-peak periods (outside of 4pm – 11pm)

●        Your Smart TV may be using your data, if it connects to your WiFi, directly, or through a device like Chromecast or Apple TV. Turn off your TV when not in use.

Mobile data saving tips

●        Use your home Wi-Fi network rather than mobile data. Even if you have mobile access to your property, connect your mobile phone to your home or property Wi-Fi network, as this internet connection most likely has more included data.

●        Turn off “push notifications” for emails, social media and GPS apps. In an iPhone, do this as follows:

o    Go to Settings > Notifications > Select the app, for example Facebook > Switch Allow Notifications off.

●        Turn off video autoplay for social media. Change your settings in apps like Facebook and Instagram so videos do not automatically start playing. Press “pause” or “stop” when you see a video embedded in media articles.

●        Use plain text/SMS messages rather than apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. These apps use data to send text messages.

Safety and security options to save data

●        Make sure your Wi-Fi network & computer are secured with a password.

●        Regularly check for viruses and malware; these can eat into your data allowance.

●        Ensure you activate a firewall to prevent unauthorised connections to your computer

●        If you’re going away for an extended period, switch your modem/ router and computer off completely.

Managing file uploads

If your uploads are higher than your downloads, and you don’t know why, here are some things to check.

●        You need to isolate what device is uploading all the data. Turn off all devices. Turn on one, and monitor it for two hours. Turn it off, then turn on the next device. Keep doing that until you find the culprit. Don’t forget that things like weather sensors and internet-connected fridges, TVs, and game stations are also “devices”.

●        Login into your account with your service provider and see if you can pinpoint when the uploads are happening. Your provider will only have hourly data for the last 24 hours.

●        Do you have a Network Attached Storage device? If so, turn it off and see what happens. The software on them can often “phone home” for updates.

●        Your router may have been hacked. Try bypassing the router and plugging your computer directly into the NTD and see what happens.

●        Check your computer for malware. Your computer may have become part of a “botnet”.

●        Your cloud software may be be syncing too often. Turn it off for automatic syncing, or set up a selective syncing option.  See your user manual for instructions on how to control the syncing.

Check our device-specific Usage Control Tips and Tech Tips pages to turn off or limit options that may be uploading files without your permission.

If you have tried all the above suggestions and pages, and still can’t control the uploading of data, you will need to contact your service provider and ask for help. They will be able to monitor in real time what is happening over your connection (best done when the uploading is actually happening).

Need more information?

Contact our Helpdesk directly.