Many things can eat into a usage limit, but if none of these are the cause, it may be that the PC has been infected by malicious software and is in use as a botnet
I hope you can help me with a problem with Sky broadband. I signed up to a package of TV, Sky Talk and free broadband that has a usage limit of 2GB per month. I have been with this internet service provider for three years and until very recently my monthly usage limit has been in the region of 1GB.
Recently Sky sent me an email saying I had gone over this limit and if it happened again it would charge me extra. Sky also said if it kept happening it would automatically upgrade my service to a higher priced package.
I could move to BT but would prefer to stay with Sky in order to keep my email address.
Mr Goodchild told us that he was worried that going over his usage limit was caused by the number of emails he sent and received. This is possible but only if sending many emails with large attachments, such as high-resolution photos or videos.
However, this seems unlikely, not least because Sky’s email system sets a 20MB limit for individual attachments – so Mr Goodchild would have to send 1,000 such attachments in a month to break his 2GB limit. Mr Goodchild also told us that he had never downloaded music, films or games.
Watching programmes through his PC with video-on-demand services such as the BBC’s iPlayer will eat into his limit heavily. There is also the possibility that someone else in the house has been downloading music or films or if he has a wireless connection that is not secured, someone outside of his house. But he says he doesn’t think this is the issue.
Another possibility is his PC is infected with malicious software and being used by criminals as a ‘botnet’ – a computer that has been infected with a malicious code and used as part of a network to launch attacks on other PCs or send out junk email.
What concerns him is not being able to track his usage each month and seeing what is using this up. Sky could tell him this, and many ISPs also put broadband-usage meters online so people can track their usage each month and know when they are getting near the limit.
But because Mr Goodchild has no idea how or why his monthly usage has soared we have asked Sky to look into this and let him know if it can now track what was being downloaded to his PC. We have also advised him to run a full scan of his PC to make sure that it is not infected.
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