Bandwidth Hero is a free extension for Chrome and Firefox that compresses images before they are sent to the browser that requested them.
Images can make up quite a large chunk of a web page. This depends on a number of factors, for instance the type of site, and whether the webmaster has optimized the images or not.
Some sites embed images in the Megabyte size-range if images have not been optimized. While that is usually no problem if broadband connections are used to access these pages, users on mobiles and those without unlimited data plans may find these sites problematic for a number of reasons.
Images suck up the the data quota quickly, especially on sites that use lots of them without optimization.
Bandwidth Hero is a free extension for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome that has been designed specifically to deal with images on any web page that you visit in the browser.
Bandwidth Hero works similarly to other data saving extensions or services. It routes image traffic through a proxy server to compress images based on the configuration.
Tip: Check out the following data saving browser extensions and features:
- Google Data Saver extension for Chrome on the desktop
- Google Data Saver for Firefox
- Data Compression Proxy brings Google’s bandwidth saving proxy to the desktop
- Opera Turbo Overview, Discovering Opera Part 1
The extension is open source, and comes with an option to set up a custom proxy server instead of the default one. While that requires some planning and access to services or hardware on the Internet, it gives privacy conscious users an option to avoid any privacy implications of sending traffic through a third-party proxy server.
Compressed images are then transferred to the user’s browser. This happens without much of a noticeable delay — if any — and is an automated process that requires no user interaction.
The extension uses a high compression setting and converts images to black and white by default. You can disable the conversion to black and white images, and change the compression level as well.
A click on the extension icon displays statistics about the number of images that passed through the proxy server, and the bandwidth save in the process.
A click on compression settings lists options to turn off the conversion of images to black and white, and to change the compression level. The default is set to high, the highest compression level. You can change that to medium or low using the menu.
The interface lists two additional options; you can disable the proxy on the active site so that images are not transferred through the proxy server when pages of the site are loaded, and you may change the proxy server URL. The latter is required if you have set up your own proxy server and want to use it.
Bandwidth Hero is a handy browser extension for Chrome and Firefox — and compatible browsers. You can use it to save bandwidth while browsing the web. While fast broadband users without data limiting plans may have no need for the browser add-on, users who use slower lines or need to keep their monthly data allowance in check may find the extension useful for that.
Now You: Unlimited or limited data? How much bandwidth do you have at your disposal each month?
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