Telecommunication companies adapt to what the consumer wants – and these days, that’s data. Gone are the days when your phone plan was measured in call minutes and SMS. Today, your plan’s biggest selling point is most likely going to revolve around the amount of data that’s included for a price that fits into your budget.
Reducing your data usage could allow you to pay less for a plan with less data, or it could simply save you the additional fee for going over your data allowances. Whether you use Android or iPhone, here are some tips for keeping your data usage within carefully defined limits.
How Much Data Do You Really Use?
Data usage can be tricky to estimate, especially when you take into consideration that at least part of your mobile usage happens while connected to Wi-Fi. There are a number of apps and phone functions that can track your data usage, but the most accurate way to get an overview of your past usage is to look at statements provided by your carrier. If a few adjustments to your browsing habits could pull you into line, it might be worth looking into data-saving measures. If you are way over or under your data allowance, you might want to look at changing plans.
Your phone, your carrier, and data saving apps will have functions that alert you when you reach certain data thresholds. There are a few problems – your phone and apps are unlikely to track data usage as reliably as your phone company. However, sometimes your carrier has delayed information about your usage, meaning you aren’t getting the most up-to-datestats and could possibly exceed your usage before you receive any alert. A combination might be the most reliable way to stay below your data allowance if you are a chronic over-user.
Wi-Fi is Your Go-To
You should take advantage of Wi-Fi whenever possible. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to fall out of the habit of checking for a connection. If you’re not currently in the habit of looking out for hotspots, you might be surprised how many of your favourite areas offer free Wi-Fi. Public parks, libraries, restaurants and many other places offerfree Wi-Fi.
Turn Your Data Off
Do you need instant updates, or can your Facebook notifications wait? Turning off your data completely helps you to rely on Wi-Fi except when absolutely necessary, and can avoid the shock that you get when you realise you have just watched an hour of YouTube videos with your Wi-Fi accidentally switched off. If the thought of being completely unconnected doesn’t appeal to you, you can adjust how much access to data your apps can have – for example, your phone can check for emails periodically instead of having them pushed automatically through. You should also make sure that your apps only update when you are connected to Wi-Fi. Don’t just leave your apps to default settings – when it comes to data, it pays to be in control.
Consider Offline Options
Many streaming services offer paid subscriptions that let you download their content and then play it offline. Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play Music are great for downloading your playlist, Netflix offers limited downloads to watch programs offline, and YouTube Red is their paid premium service that lets you avoid ads and download your content over a Wi-Fi network to watch later. If you’re a fan of podcasts, there are plenty of apps for that as well. Just bear in mind that your subscriptions will save your data but cost you extra, so you will have to work out if it’s worth it in the long run.
Phone plans that rollover unused data to the next month can help you get the best value for your money if you only occasionally go over your limit.
- Additional data at a fixed price.
What solution does your phone plan offer when you go over your allowance? The most common offer is an additional 1GB for $10, but if you are needing extra on a regular basis you might save money by changing to a plan with a higher allowance.
- Speed throttling.
Going back to dial-up speeds is incredibly frustrating, and just might be the motivation you need to keep your data usage within your limits. It’s not too bad if you run out with only a few days left, but if your speed is throttled in the middle of the month it could be difficult to live with.
Reducing your data usage is about making sensible choices that fit in with your lifestyle, and being mindful of the way you use your internet connections. Taking some time to think about your usage habits and to make changes could save you money in the long run.