Experiencing the increase in web bandwidth usage for myself

August 29, 2023

Recently, for reasons outside the scope of this entry (cf), I found myself using tethered cellular Internet at home instead of my regular DSL Internet. In many parts of the West this wouldn't be much of a problem, but in Canada our cellular Internet plans are all what you would politely call 'cramped' in terms of monthly transfer limits, and needing to use cellular Internet on a regular basis for what turned out to be more than two weeks really made me watch my usage nervously.

(I've used cellular Internet before during brief interruptions in my DSL connection and during a vacation, but both are different than this time. And in the latter situation I looked into ways to turn Fedora's bandwidth usage down.)

There were certain things I could cut right out, like fetching Fedora package updates, VCS repository updates, and so on. After those, a lot of my remaining use of the Internet was visiting and using websites, including the Fediverse (I don't have a Linux client I like yet, so I use the Mastodon web interface). This, plus monitoring how much I'd transferred, gave me a front row seat on how much bandwidth the modern web casually uses. Often the answer was 'a lot', at least by my standards.

One reason for this is modern web design's love for what is apparently called 'hero images', which are images thrown into text articles to add nominal interest. Hero images often appear at the top and can also be added part way through when the article's creator decides they want to give you something else to look at; they add nothing to the article except more data transferred (and a visual break), and often are relatively large. Modern JavaScript doesn't help, but hero images are a significant reason that even ordinary looking web pages can be 10 Mbytes or more a pop once the dust settles (on a HiDPI display, which may not help either).

I was going to say something about how much bandwidth our Grafana dashboards use, but although I perceived them as heavyweight and avoided looking at them over cellular, now that I've looked our main dashboard is only about 1.8 Mbytes when fully loaded. In one sense that's a lot (and certainly it wasn't fast over my cellular Internet), but compared to other websites it wasn't all that bad, and certainly we nominally get plenty of value from it (unlike hero images).

All of this is far from news; for years, people have been writing about how heavy web pages are and how this affects people with slow Internet and expensive bandwidth. But it had never really affected me, and now it sort of did. Certainly I became much more conscious of just how much bandwidth I could casually go through in a day, even a day when I was consciously trying to stick to the text focused web. Even just using the Internet from home in the evenings, it was hard not to use over 512 Mbytes, and easy to hit 1 Gbytes.

(I have a personal Prometheus and Grafana setup on my home machine for reasons, and it's tempting to add some data panels for 'per day total bandwidth usage'. I'd probably be more routinely aware of it, at least. Although with my DSL back, now I'm doing Fedora package updates and other non-web things that use up bandwidth.)

Written on 29 August 2023.
« Go 1.22's (likely) new reflect.TypeFor() generic function
Email anti-spam (and really all anti-spam) is all heuristics now »

Page tools: View Source, Add Comment.
Login: Password:
Atom Syndication: Recent Comments.

Last modified: Tue Aug 29 22:25:15 2023
This dinky wiki is brought to you by the Insane Hackers Guild, Python sub-branch.