Unless you have an unlimited data plan or are not always in range of a wifi connection, it can pretty easy to quickly use up the 3G or 4G data allowance on your smartphone.
You don’t just use up data when you watch a video on YouTube or check your social media accounts, many apps that run in the background continue to eat through your mobile data, probably without you even realising it.
Fortunately, there are a few simple tips you can follow or good habits that you can get into that can help minimize mobile data usage on your phone and ensure you never run out or even worse, go over your limit and rack up a huge bill.
Stop using mobile data completely
One way to seriously reduce the amount of mobile data your phone uses is to stop using it completely.
Selecting the wifi only option on your smartphone is the simplest way to stop apps purging your data.
On Android: Go to Settings > Data usage > Mobile data > on/off
On iPhone: Go to Settings > Mobile Data > toggle on/off
Not only will you save on mobile data, this tip will also do wonders for your battery life.
You don’t have to necessarily leave it switched off all the time but turning it off when you’re not using phone will help to limit data usage.
Limit data from apps running in the background
The apps you wouldn’t be without such as Facebook, YouTube, Google Chrome and Gmail are among the biggest offenders when it comes to draining your mobile data.
And this occurs not only when you are using the apps but also when you the apps are running in the background. Apps like Facebook and Gmail are constantly refreshing in order to check for new notifications and mail.
On Android: go to Settings > Data then scroll through your list of apps. Tap on one of the apps in the list then select the option to Restrict Background Data.
On iPhone: Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh
Do this on apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Gmail first.
By restricting background data it means you will not receive notifications until you launch the app.
Only update apps over wifi
This is another easy tip and one which you should already be doing. By allowing apps to only update using a wifi connection, you will save yourself massive amounts of data.
Downloading app updates account for the largest amount of data usage, so you should make sure this is only done when you are connected to wifi.
On Android: open the Google Play Store > Tap on menu settings > Auto update apps > select ‘Auto update apps over wifi only’.
On iPhone: go to Settings > iTunes & App Stores > toggle ‘Use Mobile Data’ off
Turn off push notifications
Push notifications for Facebook and email can also eat into your mobile data so unless you really need to be notified instantly about something you may want to think about turning them off.
On Android: go to Settings > Apps > tap on the app in question.
You can also turn off all notifications on your device by going into the Notifications settings.
On iPhone: go to Settings > Notifications > tap on a particular app > allow notifications
Stop videos on Facebook from autoplaying
Since Facebook and other leading social media sites introduced their auto play feature for videos, videos now play automatically as you scroll through your News Feed, even if you don’t want to watch them.
If you are not connected to wifi, each time a video plays it can drain your mobile data.
On Android: Open Facebook app > Settings > Video Auto Play > choose an option
On iPhone: Open Facebook app > Tap on three bars in the bottom right corner > Settings > Videos and Photos > Select Auto-Play > Turn off smart Auto-Play
Make use of offline modes or ‘lite’ versions of apps
Video and music streaming are two of the biggest ways you will use mobile data. However, Netflix have recently introduced an offline option that allows you to download episodes of your favourite show to watch offline.
So if you are half way through an episode or want to download a couple of episodes ahead of a trip somewhere download them using wifi and save yourself a whole load of data.
Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music also offer similar features to premium users.
The only thing you need to remember is to have enough storage space for the stuff you download.
You may also want to look for specific ‘Lite’ versions of apps which are designed to be more data friendly.
Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Twitter all have lite versions of their main apps.
Jonathan is our Google Nexus and Android enthusiast. He is also fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to writing about tech, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and has previously written for one the UK’s leading watch and horology websites.