It’s no secret that I work with video every day. I probably add two GB of new videos to my Dropbox account on a daily basis. Many days I also upload one GB+ of video to YouTube and other online video hosting services. For remote collaboration I rely on Dropbox to sync my video files with team members spread throughout the US. I also sync those video files to four computers, three of which are in my house at various times. Doing some quick math, my two GB of new video in Dropbox potentially becomes six GB per day, because the files need to feed out to each computer. I’m excluding one computer because the files have to originate from somewhere. If I edit a file and post the changes to Dropbox, that increases the daily total further. If you take the bare bones estimate of my usage, those six GB per day translate to 186 GB of Dropbox data transfer in a 31-day month. Add another 30 GB of uploads to YouTube or Blip.tv and I’m over 200 GB of data transferred.
The 200 GB figure does not include any Netflix videos I stream. It excludes any Xbox Live gaming. The songs I download from Amazon MP3 haven’t been factored in. I’m not accounting for YouTube videos I might watch. I’m not keeping track of the online backups to IDrive. Windows and Mac OS X software updates for each computer aren’t factored into my calculation. If I were to sync Dropbox to a fifth computer, I’d instantly be at 248 GB of video transferred in a month, excluding all those other use cases.
You could argue that I don’t need to sync my videos to every computer and make a solid case. The reason I sync the videos to each computer is so that I have them at the ready when I want to edit. Sometimes it makes more sense to edit on a Mac, sometimes I use Windows. Sometimes I want to edit on the couch, sometimes I’m at my desk. The point is, I’m making fairly normal use of the files.
I’m just a normal Dropbox user paying for one of its 50 GB accounts. Why does where I sync even matter? I’m a Comcast customer, that’s why. The Comcast Excessive Use policy says that the cap on total data I can use in a given month cannot exceed 250 GB or I’ll get a warning. Exceed 250 GB twice and I’ll be banned from Comcast for 12 months. Based on my Internet usage, it wouldn’t be hard for me to hit the data cap. This month, much of my Dropbox sync of two computers is happening at my office, so I’ll likely stay under the data cap and be at roughly 140 GB this month, which is well under the Comcast data cap. Other months I may not be so lucky.
Seeing that someone in Seattle did get booted from Comcast recently, it’s time for me to rethink how I use data. I’d switch to a Comcast competitor, but where I live there’s no better alternative. I am paying for one of the upgraded XFINITY Internet accounts, because I need to reduce the amount of time I spend waiting for uploads. Apparently paying more does not improve Comcast’s service in terms of capping bandwidth.
I love the convenience and ease of use afforded by Dropbox, but maybe I’ll have to dump the service, or at least use it in a far less convenient fashion, if I need to avoid getting banned from the Comcast service I rely on to function for my work.