Our family lives in the middle of nowhere, so the only high-speed internet available is Verizon's 3G mobile broadband. We have the highest package available, yet continually go over the 10GB limit and get charged $10 every 1GB we go over. We run a business from home, so stopping when we hit the limit is not an option.
I've found the majority of connections are to Google, Microsoft, Akamai, Facebook, and other web service companies (mainly google). I know these are harmless connections, but when it costs money for them to monitor our web activity it becomes a serious problem.
Here's some things I've done, but I'm sure there's something else that could help before blocking a huge set of IP ranges:
- stopped using windows (on my machine)
- use MVPS host file on all computers
- use firefox on all computers (with don't track me option)
- ad block plugin on all browsers
- blocking google updates
- blocking windows updates
- block images in browsers (when possible)
- use comodo firewall (paranoia-level style of blocking..)
- virus-free computers with ESET NOD32
- bought router and installed dd-wrt in attempt to block connections more diligently (and throttle bandwidth if it comes to that)
Anything I'm missing? I know Google analytics is on almost all websites, as well as FB like buttons but I would like to be able to stop these connections without blocking use of google services like gmail, etc.
Just a little update: ultrasawblade, your Noscript suggestion was worth it's weight in gold; quite literally! We've decreased our usage considerably by applying strict filtering rules on everyone's computer. (Don't want to speak too soon but it's cut usage by almost 150-200%, so I definitely owe you one ultrasawblade) Also, an unintended, yet positive effect on bandwidth, has been disposing of Google Chrome (which was still being used apparently) to use the plugin, as it's auto-update and tracking features were consuming obscene amounts of bandwidth (as well as phoning home a lot more than realized).
I've also personally started using mobile versions of websites using lupincho's suggestion of the User Agent Switcher plugin, and I'll admit it's a lot better than text-only browsing. I'm also testing out BJ292's BetterCache plugin, and will be investigating the use of squid or some other form of permanent stylesheet/image/element caching, as it seems browsers don't do this correctly anymore? I've also started using the Ghostery and RequestPolicy plugins, though their features overlap and are conflicting in most cases.
As for Akamai, apparently they were bought by Verizon, so there may be no escape from their CDN, but will soon experiment by blocking known IP ranges. Am also going to setup a server at a friends house in the city, and will attempt to download and update by proxy if at all possible.