The amount of data that apps can use has grown drastically.If you’re not careful, data allowances that look generous on paper can leave you short at the end of the month. If you’re looking to stay within your data limits, there are many suggestions on how to reduce your data usage. But which are the most effective? These solutions are mostly common sense – but you have to be diligent to get the best results. Here are the top 5 ways you can get the most out of your mobile data allowance.
1. Monitor Your Data
Before you look at how to reduce your data, it’s a good idea to have a look at how much you use and what it is mostly used for. There are many calculators online that will help you estimate your data usage, but for your historical use it’s far more accurate to go straight to the bills from your phone company.
Aside from the obvious data drains, you might be surprised by how much background data relatively insignificant apps are using. In your settings you can make sure these apps only sync while connected to Wi-Fi, or in other cases you can decide how frequently you want your phone to check for updates.
2. Use an App
If you’re finding your usage hard to track and control, an app can help. iPhone’s data managing features are not as good as the built-in ones you’ll find with Android, so an app like My Data Manager or Advanced Data Usage Tracker can help you monitor and control how much data is being used and what apps are using it.
The more recent Android phones have great data usage information and controls built in, but apps like Datally make it even easier. You can see your usage in real time, as well as looking at information about how your data is being divided up, and future predictions about whether you’re on track to stay within your allowance. As a bonus feature, Datally can alert you to free Wi-Fi in your area.
3. Use Wi-Fi
It sounds obvious, but it can be very easy to get lazy and rely on your mobile data instead of your Wi-Fi. A bit of forethought can heavily reduce your data charges. If you are going out, you can cache your maps so the information is already there. If you know you’ll have an extended wait time in your day, download some entertainment. Save your big file uploads and downloads until you’re covered by Wi-Fi. It doesn’t take long, and remember that you can switch on your data later if you have to – but thinking ahead can save you a bundle.
4. Beware of Streaming
Streaming music and video has become much more popular and accessible, but it can also chew through an astonishing amount of data if not used thoughtfully. An hour of Netflix or YouTube could set you back a GB, and if you watch your shows in HD the amount of data can triple.
If you are being careful with your data allowance you have two main choices – wait until you can access Wi-Fi, or pay for premium subscriptions that allow you to download your shows. YouTube Red, Netflix and Spotify all have facilities to download content when you’re in Wi-Fi range in order to watch it later.
While you will pay extra for services like Spotify Premium and YouTube Red, they come with additional perks. Spotify Premium is ad-free, and allows you to build playlists, skip whenever you want as well as download content. YouTube Red has similar benefits, and also offers a music streaming feature.
5. Use Mobile-Friendly Options
Mobile-optimized sites have been designed with your data in mind – they offer the basics without the excessive ads, pictures and other content that takes data to load. This also goes for your favourite apps. If you have to pay $0.99 for an ad-free version of an app you use regularly, it could be worth it in the long run.
Some apps and browsers, such as Chrome, offer built in data reduction settings. Others have “lite” versions available, like Facebook Messenger. It doesn’t take much to effort to choose a data-saving option, but it could save you money.
No one likes budgeting, but unless you are way below your data limit each month it pays to think ahead. $10 extra a month in data charges might not seem like a lot of money, but it can very quickly become an extra $120 a year that should be in your pocket instead of your phone company’s. Be smart about your usage and aside from the savings, you might find you have extra available when you need it.