Last Updated: Jan 23, 2020
Remember a time when you weren’t arguing with your roommates over who paid their fair share of the bills for the month? On-campus dorm living certainly has its downsides (like having to share one bathroom with a floor of students), but at least the bills are covered. If you’re sharing an off-campus apartment with one or more roommates, the debate over who is paying for what can rival the best Supreme Court arguments.
Of all the bills, the internet is probably the most hotly debated, especially if you’re dealing with a monthly data cap. How do you get around the war over which roommate's gaming used up the most data? Here are a couple of ideas to track your internet usage that don’t involve spending more money on equipment or service plans.
1. Make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for
If you suspect that excessive data usage is cutting into the speed of your internet connection, do a quick broadband test to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Try a free test site like speedof.me. Test at different times of the day, specifically once when everyone’s online and once when everyone is not. If you aren’t clocking close to optimal speeds, get in touch with your provider to find out why and have it adjusted as soon as possible.
2. Do a “data vampire” purge
If your connection speed is where it should be, ask everyone in the house to do three things (honestly, they should be doing them anyway):
- Run a virus and malware scan on all devices to clear out any unwanted programs that are eating up data without their knowledge.
- Check to make sure that no applications are running in the background on their computers, as programs that run 24/7 can use a lot of data.
- Do the same thing with smartphones. Background data usage and updates can dig into your home Wi-Fi data. Shut down any activity trackers that are running around the clock.
3. Check your router
Internet usage monitoring apps are available for free (or for a small fee) that let you track your overall data usage. But the most accurate way to monitor Wi-Fi data usage is through your router. Log in to your router’s settings to see the amount of Wi-Fi data each connected device uses. You can also kick out any devices you and your roommates don’t recognize.
Additional solution: Buy separate Wi-Fi time
The problem may not be you or the general household; perhaps one of your roommates has been on a gaming spree lately. If there’s a data hog, it might make more sense for them to buy the internet time they need separately. Pay-as-you-go internet lets you buy passes by the hour, week, or month, making it easier to avoid arguments over household data spikes.
Related: 5 Tips for New Roommates
It’s never a perfect paradise with roommates, especially in the digital age with so many additional things to pay for. If you can potentially avoid money conflicts before they happen, it’s best to arm yourself now and save everyone some first-of-the-month headaches.
Learn more about on- and off-campus living in our Student Life section.