Advanced Tips on Reducing Mobile Data

Mobile Data

There are some obvious ways to reduce your data usage that don’t require any kind of genius to figure out. Some of those are:

  • Tracking your data usage
  • Using Wi-Fi wherever possible
  • Adjusting your phone’s data settings
  • Setting up data usage alerts
  • Keep your mobile data switched off wherever possible
  • Hold off on downloading or uploading big attachments

If you’ve tried these and still find yourself looking to get a little bit more out of your data allowance, here are some tips that you might not have thought of.

Use 3G

Quicker internet speeds mean you can chew through your data faster. 3G takes your foot off the accelerator, and makes you think about how you’re using your data. Streaming apps will probably need to buffer, downloads will take a long time, and you’ll soon be searching out the nearest Wi-Fi connection. Bear in mind that 3G doesn’t use less data – it’s just a mental trick to remind you to back off the data unless absolutely necessary.

Fine-tune the Big Apps

If you use emails and social media apps, they’re most likely cutting into your data usage. Aside from generally restricting them from accessing data by using your phone’s settings, there are options that could help. For example, disable the auto-play function for videos on Facebook. That way you only use data on the videos that interest you.

Email settings can range from real time push to manual download only. You’ll need to choose what setting is right for you based on how important it is to receive emails instantly. Remember to clear out any emails that didn’t send or receive properly – your email app could be helping itself to your data over and over again while trying to fix the problem.

Browse Wisely

When tidying up your phone, the instinct is often to clear the cache – but that just means your browser needs to download those things all over again. Leave it alone so you can make use of those initial downloads each time you visit a page you’ve been to before.

There are many browser apps available that are designed to lower your mobile data usage. Browsers like Opera Mini only give you the essentials and use much less data to do it. While you’re on those pages, check if you are offered a “read only” option. Making do with the mobile-optimised site instead of the desktop version wherever possible can also save you a lot of data.

Wi-Fi Only to Update and Sync

Make sure your apps are set to only update when you are connected to Wi-Fi. You rarely need those updates urgently, so there is nothing wrong with delaying them until you are at home, connected to Wi-Fi and preferably with the battery charging.

Take the time to make sure your apps are synced while in range of Wi-Fi as well. If you use the premium version of streaming apps, making sure the content is downloaded before you leave the house. If you follow a playlist that changes (like Australia’s Viral Top 50) remember that you will have to sync fairly regularly to avoid using data.

Optimise your Streaming Apps

While it’s obvious that streaming music and video using your mobile data will very quickly chew through most data allowances, did you know there are settings to help you use less of it? If you haven’t downloaded the content and you can’t wait for Wi-Fi, consider turning down the quality of the content slightly to use less data.

Watching Netflix in HD could be using 3 times as much data as watching the same content in standard definition! YouTube, Spotify and many other streaming apps also have settings to allow you to access slightly lower quality content that uses less data.

Clean Out Your App Collection

Do you really need all those apps? Cleaning out the ones you don’t want will help you save mobile data – either by deleting them or, in the case of pre-installed system apps, disabling them. You can make a difference by restricting their ability to update or access mobile data through the settings, but if you don’t use them it could be a good idea to get rid of them altogether. Don’t mess around with the system apps if you don’t know what they are, but if you will never use the Newsstand app and your phone won’t let you delete it, disable instead.

Using less data doesn’t have to be a drag. Just think of it as being economical so you can spend your data on what you want. A bit of discipline is never a bad thing – but if you do keep going over, maybe it’s time to think about upgrading to a different plan.



Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.