In the United States we don’t necessarily have a problem (yet) with what’s known as "capped bandwidth" (i.e. your ISP puts a usage limit on how much data you can transfer per month), but for other places it’s a big deal because once you tap the limit, your ISP slows you down to snail-crawl speeds until next month when the limit is reset.

This information is also useful to those on broadband connections and wi-fi spots where speed counts the most (the less you load the less time you have to wait).

1. Use RSS

Whether you use Bloglines, Google Reader or a client like RSS Bandit, using RSS is faster and uses much less bandwidth than loading a web site directly. PCMech, for example, has article content delivered via RSS.

2. Don’t load Flash content

Concerning file size, text is small, images are relatively small but Flash content is rarely small. You can uninstall the Flash plugin entirely but if you don’t want to do that (and I don’t blame you), use the Firefox extension Flashblock instead where you can turn it off and on at whim.

3. Use an e-mail client instead of web-based mail

Every time you load web-based mail in a browser (no matter what provider you use) it’s full of coding that on load makes it a bit large file-size wise. And if it’s a free mail provider there are also advertisements loaded in as well. If you use a traditional e-mail client like Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird or Windows Live Mail it’s loaded locally and the only bandwidth it uses is when you send or receive mail.

Tip: Have the client download headers only whether using POP or IMAP. This way no mail is fully downloaded unless you specifically instruct the client to do it. This is especially useful if you receive file attachments often.

4. Use a free multi-protocol instant messaging app

Free multi-protocol instant messaging apps don’t load advertisements and purposely don’t have all the "cool" features from-service clients do which cuts bandwidth usage (every little bit counts). Some choices are Trillian, Pidgin, and Miranda.

5. Turn your computer off when not in use

Although this is really obvious, if your computer is making no network requests it’s not using any bandwidth at all. Most of us leave our computers on all the time, but if bandwidth is a concern, turn it off when you’re not using it.