Saving bandwidth on Google Chrome and Mozilla Thunderbird

Since last 3 months, I am on an shitty internet connection which as a download limit of just 15 GB and costs an arm and leg. But stuck with it because the only other option in my area is just as bad. So now it happened that this 15 GB download limit was getting over within 4-5 days and rest of the duration the bandwidth gets throttled to snail like 512 Kbps for rest of the month.  All of this data was gone while I was not using any bandwidth intensive application. No torrents, videos, music streaming. Just the usual work on Opera and Chrome browsers and email.

This was bugging me too much because my current ISP (Failtel Fraudband) is notorious for shady business practices and ripping off customers. So to be doubly sure, I downloaded and installed Glasswire application to monitor my bandwidth usage.

Bandwidth usage report
Bandwidth usage report

As clear from the report above, Google Chrome is the largest bandwidth hog even though it’s my secondary browser and it mostly runs in background while I do my work on Opera. All of this bandwidth was consumed in just about 2 hours that I had it on.  While looking for a solution, I  found many people complaining of the same thing and found out that Google Chrome pre-fetches data from some most frequented websites and also automatically downloads some data from other links on the websites you are on.

Make webpages load faster

You can make webpages load faster by telling Google Chrome to prerender (preload) links. Google Chrome does this by predicting what links you might click, preparing them to load instantly for you.

For example:

  • When you’re browsing a blog, you might click “next post” when you’re done reading. The blog can tell Google Chrome to pre-load the “next post,” so the page shows instantly when you click it.
  • When you’re typing a web address in the address bar, Chrome will begin to prerender that page if it’s confident about which site you’re likely to visit (based on your local history). This will make the page show up faster when you hit enter.
    Google’s Instant Pages search feature in Chrome is powered by Chrome’s prerendering technology.



While this is a good option for connections with unlimited bandwidth, it is just a nuisance for others.  This means that the Chrome is pre-fetching data from websites which in a number of instances is just a waste of bandwidth. This option can be found by following steps as explained in above mentioned link:

  1. In the top-right corner of the browser window, click the Chrome menu icon .

  2. Select Settings.

  3. At the bottom of the page, click Show advanced settings.

  4. In the “Privacy” section, check “Prefetch resources to load pages more quickly.” If you want to undo this permission, simply uncheck the box.

As I wanted to save bandwidth, I unchecked the box.  After disabling this option, I kept Chrome running for half an hour and the bandwidth usage was minimal.

While looking for detailed logs, I also found out that Mozilla Thunderbird, which I use as my primary email client was also a big bandwidth hog, downloading 176 MB bandwidth in a single day. While I use it almost all day long, usage of this much data for text emails is way too much. By default, Thunderbird checks for messages every 10 minutes. I increased that interval to 30 minutes in Account Settings as visible in screenshot below.

Increase duration of checking messages in Thunderbird

Apart from that, a major bandwidth hog is the countless number of people sending messages with huge attachment, useless images and too many scammers and spammers with their malicious attachments. In the same menu, you can find option Synchronization & Storage.

Size limit for downloads in Thunderbird

In this, you can tell Thunderbird to not download any message bigger than your specified limit. I put in 1000 KB, but you can use any value you want. Additionally, the option just above “Synchronize the most recent” can also be given a lower value to decrease the amount of data spent on mostly un-needed traffic.

This work was done on Windows 7. I don’t know if the settings are same on Linux, but there is no reason that anything will be different.


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