All posts by john babineaux

Be Smart About Data Caps

If your internet service provider enforces data caps, you may be stressed to the brink trying avoiding overage charges or speed throttling.  And you’re not wrong – a family of four using phones, laptops, tablets, and a smart tv can tear through even high data allowances unless they take some precautions.  Here are some simple common-sense measures to help you outsmart your data caps.

Know Your Off-Peak Usage Times

This is an easy one.  Almost all ISPs that use data caps offer an off-peak time when data usage is unlimited, so find out when those times are and make the most of them!  It’s true that most of these off-peak times are overnight, so it might not be much help with Zoom meetings or schoolwork, but you can schedule downloading large work files or updates for these hours to free up data during business hours.

Check Your Streaming Settings

Streaming video is a huge burden on most people’s data usage.  To keep that bite to a minimum, simply turn down your playback settings.  The lowest settings will use the least data, but you don’t have to cut your streaming to the bone.  Even just dropping down from streaming in 4K can take a chunk out of your data usage.  Zoom, Skype, and other video conferencing apps can run on lower usage settings as well.    

Remember Your Cellular Data

This may sound counterintuitive, but using your cellular data instead of your Wi-Fi might work better for you.  Now that there are so many affordable unlimited cellular data plans available, using your phone’s hotspot to handle some of your workloads can help offset your data usage.  You could designate one family member to use cellular data each month, switch to it when you’re using a lot of data, or keep it as a backup for anytime you get near your data cap.

You don’t have to deal with data caps.  Find out if you’re eligible for our unlimited internet service!  To learn more about the services available in your neighborhood, contact us today.

What Can Wi-Fi Extenders do

These days, everyone has more than one device connected to the internet.  With phones, tablets, and laptops all needing wi-fi, a weak wireless signal could spell trouble for your family.  If you find that your kids can’t do homework in their bedrooms or your connection drops while you’re working in your office, your home might benefit from wi-fi extenders.

Ideally, your router should be in the center of your home to create the most even wireless coverage, but that’s often not possible, meaning that rooms further away may get spotty signal.  Homes with a larger footprint may simply be too spread out for a single router to cover.  Homes with two or more stories may have great signal on the floor where the router is but get no connection elsewhere.

Wi-fi extenders can remedy all of these problems!  They work very simply: you place the extenders near the limit of your router’s signal, then they repeat the signal.  Extenders can make sure the spare bedroom at the far end of the house has just as strong a signal as the office or boost the spotty wi-fi downstairs, whatever it takes to get even wi-fi coverage throughout your home.

Most wi-fi extenders are plug and play, ready to install with just a few simple steps.  Just make sure that you purchase extenders that match your router.  Check your wi-fi standard (802.11a/b/g, 802.11n, etc.), and frequency (5GHz or 2.4GHz), and make sure your new wi-fi extenders are increasing the signal of the network you want to use.  You’ll be enjoying a stronger signal in no time!

We offer affordable high-speed Internet service in your area, including our expanded unlimited plans.  To learn more, contact us today!

Secure your new devices

The holidays have come and gone and many of you now have new electronic devices to enjoy!  But before you get too comfortable with your cool new gear, take the time to set up some security on those devices to keep you and your information safe.

First and foremost, you want some virus protection, and remember your phone needs it, too.  Check your app store for highly-rated apps from reputable names like Avast and AVG.  If your new device arrived with preloaded virus protection, make sure you know when that trial expires and have new software standing by.  There are good free and paid options available for all devices, so you can make the choice that’s right for you.

Next, set up physical access protection – your lock screens, PINs, passwords, and fingerprint scanners.  This protects your emails and texts, as well as more sensitive data.  Most new laptops offer the option of a PIN or password to access the desktop.  If you choose to use a PIN, don’t use one that’s associated with any of your bank accounts, just in case.  If you choose a password, remember that using a short phrase instead of a single word can make your password really strong.

Lastly, consider a password manager.  We all have so many passwords these days, it gets difficult to remember them all.  It’s tempting to have your browser record all your passwords so you never have to think about them, but that can put your information at risk. A password manager may be a better solution.

With all your security in place, you can relax and enjoy your new devices in the new year!

We offer reliable, affordable high-speed internet service for all your devices.  Contact us today to learn about the plans and pricing in your neighborhood!

Try This First – Clear Your Cache

If you can’t access your favorite website, it’s tempting to think that your internet service is down.  But if you can reach other sites, that’s not the case.  So if you know your internet is up and you’ve refreshed the page several times to no avail, is there anything else you can do?

Yes! Clear your cache.

It may sound daunting, but it’s really a very simple procedure, especially if you’re using Google Chrome, which is the most widely used browser in the world.  Here’s a quick walk-through that can save you time and frustration.

Step 1: Look at the top right-hand corner of your browser window and click on the three dots.  This opens your browser menu.

Step 2: Select “History” from that menu and then select “History” again from the menu that opens up to the side.  That second menu selection will open your browsing history in a new tab.

Step 3: Click on “Clear browsing data” on the left-hand side of the screen.  This doesn’t delete anything, it just brings up a pop-up window where you can choose what to keep and what to clear.

Step 4: Make your selections for what to clear.  Choose your timeframe – it defaults to seven days, but you can choose one hour, four weeks, or more.  Choose the data you want to clear: “cached images and files”.  You can also select “browsing history” to delete all the websites you’ve visited or “cookies and other site data” to remove saved passwords and account settings, but these are optional and you should only select these if you’re sure you want to delete all that information.

Step 5: Click on “Clear Data”.

Step 6: Close and re-open your browser and try that website again.  Chances are good that it will load in a snap!

We offer affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service in your neighborhood. Contact us today to find out if you’re eligible for our unlimited service!

Managing Data Cap

Over the last year, you’ve probably become very conscious of your data caps and your internet usage.  Between online schooling, video conferences, and not much to do besides binge everyone’s favorite shows, a family of four can easily run over even a generous data cap.  To avoid paying extra or seeing your speed throttled back, try these tips to manage your data caps.

  1. Stream smart

Streaming video is the biggest data drain most people use these days.  But it doesn’t have to devour your data!  Check your playback settings in all your streaming services and take them down to the lowest level you’re comfortable with.  Skip streaming in 4K and you could see a big difference in your data usage.  Some streaming platforms manage these settings under individual profiles, so make sure you check the whole family’s accounts.

Zoom and other video calling platforms also have low-data options.  Most of the time, the lower settings will be perfectly fine and using less bandwidth means you’ll be less prone to freezing and dropping out.

  • Take advantage of your cellular data

It’s been common practice for most people to use their cell phones over their home Wi-Fi for years now – it preserves your cellular data and keeps you from running over there.  But these days most people have higher data cell plans and you may benefit from rearranging your priorities.  Balancing your data usage across your cell and Wi-Fi can help you stay under your data caps on both plans. 

  • Check for off-peak usage

Some ISPs offer a form of free time outside of peak usage hours, usually overnight, when usage won’t count toward your data cap.  This doesn’t help with your work or your kids’ schoolwork, but delaying downloading system updates or large work files until this period could make a difference in staying under your data cap.

Sick of data caps?  Find out if you’re eligible for our unlimited internet service!  To learn more about the services available in your neighborhood, contact us today.

Online Spring Cleaning

The weather is warming up and flowers are beginning to bloom, and that puts many people in mind to start spring cleaning!  While you’re scrubbing out the refrigerator, vacuuming under all the beds, and washing the drapes, consider taking your spring cleaning online as well.

You might start with your online subscriptions.  How many do you have and how many of those do you use?  Did you sign up for a free trial and forget to cancel it?  Take stock of what you’re paying for and you just might find some hidden cash you can reclaim!

And speaking of clearing out, how’s your inbox looking these days?  We’ve all been shopping online so much in the past year, you’ve probably given out your email address to several places in exchange for discounts or free shipping.  Are they now clogging up your inbox with weekly emails that are no use to you?  It only takes a few minutes to go through and unsubscribe!

How about your social media profiles?  With everything going online, it’s quite likely that your online social circles have expanded.  This is a great time to double check that you have work contacts and personal contacts separated to avoid awkward cross-sharing, and maybe to thin out the ranks of your online “friends” you don’t talk to. 

Check up on all your security settings as well, not only on social media but in your email accounts.  Enable two factor authentication to secure your email, write down those long authentication codes, and take a stroll through your Gmail account settings to control your data privacy.  While you’re at it, are your passwords strong enough?  Maybe create some new, stronger ones.

Clean living online means peace of mind in all your online interactions!

We offer affordable high-speed internet service in your area.  Contact us today to find out if you’re covered by our new unlimited data plans!

5 Tips for Strong Passwords

A strong password can make the difference between a secure online account and your information being sold across the internet.  Most sites now have strict requirements that passwords meet a certain level of strength, usually by requiring a certain number of characters and including capital letters, numbers, or special characters.  If you feel a bit overwhelmed by all this, you’re not alone. Here are a few tips for creating strong passwords.

  1. Use phrases instead of words.  The more characters, the stronger your password.  So use a full phrase like 6RosesinMyGarden! or Familyof3?Dogs instead of trying to stretch out a single word. 
  2. Sprinkle your numbers and special characters throughout your password.  It’s very common to tack a number or special character onto the end of a password (who hasn’t ended a password with 1!), but that makes it easier to hack.  Remember that you can put numbers and special characters anywhere in your passphrase.
  3. There are more than two special characters!  Sure, the exclamation and question marks are the easiest to think of, but there are lots more special characters to choose from.  Some sites don’t allow use of “@” or commas in passwords, but you can almost always use “$” or “&”.  That ampersand can be especially useful in creating longer phrases you can easily remember.
  4. Don’t use significant dates.  Never use your birthday, your kids’ birthdays, your age, or the current year in a password.  The only exception there is if you use a system that requires you to change your password regularly, in which case you might use the current year when you reset it.
  5. Archaic words are a good choice, too!  Lots of archaic words are long and many are such fun to say that you won’t forget them.  Words like “snollygoster”, “fandangle”, or “rapscallion” can make great foundations for passwords and are unlikely to be on any list of often-hacked choices.  If you’re especially literary-minded, try a Shakespearean insult generator for some fun ideas.  

We provide reliable, affordable high-speed internet service in your area.  Find out if you’re covered by our unlimited service or contact us today to learn what we can offer at your address.

Spotting Modern Online Scams

We’ve all been using the internet for so long now that we fancy ourselves pretty savvy about potential scams.  After all, nobody would believe the old “Nigerian prince” thing anymore and we all know not to open emails from unfamiliar email addresses, right?  Surely we’re all safe.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  As the public has become better informed and more careful online, scammers have gotten more inventive.  There are new scams out there that you need to be aware of.

There’s free wi-fi everywhere these days.  It’s become so common that we expect it from restaurants, bars, and other businesses.  Some ISPs even set up public hotspots on their own.  However, bad actors can set up those innocent-looking hotspots, too.  And once you connect to them, your data is ripe for the picking.  A little common sense goes a long way in this situation.  Make sure you know the network you’re connecting to and make it a rule to never do any shopping or banking over a public wi-fi connection.  For extra protection, you might consider getting a VPN to safeguard your private information.

The tried and true pop-up is still out there, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting.  Sometimes, you’ll see the old warning that your computer is infected (click on that and it certainly will be!), but modern pop-ups tend to be ads that then redirect you to a dangerous site.  Hopefully, your antivirus will catch the redirect and block the threat, but an ad blocker is a more reliable way to keep pop-ups off your screen. 

The newest email scams are designed to look legitimate and use subject lines that scare you into acting before you think.  A couple of examples include messages with the headline “Your Paypal account has been suspended” or “Your Apple ID has been locked”.  Both of these common scams come from senders that show up as “Paypal” or “Apple”.  But the sender name to anything when an email account is created.  When you hover over the sender name, you see the full email address is nowhere near real.  Keep calm, don’t lose your head, and always check the email before you open any email that says your account is in trouble.

We offer affordable high speed Internet service in your area!  Contact us today to find out what we can do for you!

How to clear your Google search history

One of the more disturbing trends on the internet is the phenomenon of targeted advertising.  After you search for something, suddenly you find ads for your search on every page you visit, sometimes for days or even weeks at a time. 

This is all thanks to Google.  When you use Google’s search engine, it collects that information and curates the ads you see from various retailers and service providers.  If that thought bothers you, not to worry!  You can clear your Google search history with a few simple steps.

There are two methods for clearing your search history.

Method 1:

  1. Go to and make sure you’re signed in with your Google account.
  2.  Choose “Delete activity by” from the left-hand sidebar.
  3. In the form provided, first choose your date range, then go to the drop-down menu labeled “All Products” and choose “search”.
  4. Click “delete”.

Method 2:

  1.  Go to the Google homepage while you’re logged into your Google account.
  2. Click on “Settings”, then “Your data in search”.
  3. Choose either to review your search history, delete your search history from the last hour, or delete all your search history all the way back to 2005.

Deleting your search history isn’t strictly necessary, but it will keep Google from being able to target your ads.  Not only that, regularly clearing your search history will also help keep your internet activity private and protect your personal information. 

We provide affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service in your area.  Contact us today to see what we can do for you!

Clearing Your Cache

One of the simplest and most effective procedures for troubleshooting your internet issues is clearing your browser cache.  This operation can speed up loading time, correct browser errors, and it usually fixes that annoying problem when the site you use all the time suddenly won’t load.  The words “clear your cache” strike fear in a lot of people, but it’s really very simple.  Here’s an example of how to clear your cache using the world’s most widely used browser, Chrome.

To clear your cache, first open up the browser menu by clicking on the three dots in the upper right corner of your browser window.  In that window, choose “History” – this will open up a side menu where you’ll click on “History” again to open a new browser tab.

In this new tab, look on the left side of the screen and click on “Clear browsing data” (don’t worry, you’ll get to choose what you clear and what you keep).  This will bring up a pop-up window that gives you a lot of options.

First, choose your time frame.  The default choice is the last seven days, but you can change it to as little as the last hour, as much as the last four weeks, or even “all time”.  Seven days is usually sufficient, but if you’ve never cleared your cache before, you might start at four weeks.

Below that, you’ll see three check boxes noting the data that you can clear.  These will include “browsing history”, which means the URLs of all the websites you’ve visited, “cookies and other site data”, which will clear any saved login information or account settings, and “cached images and files”, which are pieces of information that your browser has kept to pre-load various websites.  This last option, “cached images and files”, is what you want to clear, so you can uncheck the other two boxes.

Then just click on the “clear data” button at the bottom, and you’re done!  Close and re-open your browser, and see how much faster and easier your websites load.  If you were having trouble with a specific site not loading, this will likely fix the issue.  And you didn’t even have to call tech support!

We offer affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service in your neighborhood. Contact us today to find out if you’re eligible for our unlimited service!