Unlimited data plans are now increasingly rare, meaning that your mobile data usage needs to be monitored carefully. Exceeding your monthly data allowance can be a costly affair, resulting in an unexpected, expensive bill or a severely limited connection speed. Luckily there are lots of things you can do to extend your data for as long as possible. Read on for eight tips that will help you get the most from your mobile data plan, whether you’re an Android or iOS user.
#1 Use Wi-Fi where available
As well as using Wi-Fi at work and home to save your data, there are now Wi-Fi hotspots provided free of charge in many different places. To find the nearest network with ease, download the handy app Wi-Fi Finder Free, available for both iOS and Android. When you’re connected to a public network always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your personal information and keep it safe from prying eyes.
#2 Rethink basic online habits
When you’re using a mobile device you should always use mobile-friendly websites where available. Avoid desktop sites if possible – the mobile site will load faster and use much less data. You should also make use of your browser’s cache. Although the cache takes up storage space, it will save your data as images from frequently visited websites are stored instead of being downloaded each time you visit.
#3 Download music and video over Wi-Fi instead of streaming
Streaming music and video can take you over your data limit before you know it. Listening to music can use over 100 megabytes per hour, while video streaming can easily use around 500 megabytes per minute, depending on the service and settings you’re using. Choose subscription services that allow you to download music and video over Wi-Fi, to enjoy while you’re on the go.
#4 Don’t download or send photos and videos
Sharing pictures and videos, especially in high-definition, will use your data up very quickly – a five-minute HD video can use up to a whole gigabyte of your data. Waiting until you’re connected to Wi-Fi to do these things will save you a huge amount of data. This also applies when uploading pictures and videos to websites and apps such as Facebook.
#5 Share files via Bluetooth where possible
To share files via Bluetooth you must be in the vicinity of the recipient, which means it’s not always convenient. However, Bluetooth can be a great way to share pictures, videos and other large files without using up valuable data. To share files via Bluetooth, first ensure both devices have Bluetooth enabled. Open the intended item and tap the Share button; you’ll see an option to share via Bluetooth. The final step is to select the recipient from a list of Bluetooth-enabled devices – if the name of the recipient’s device does not appear, check that Bluetooth is enabled.
#6 Set a data limit and alerts
There are several methods for tracking your data usage. Your carrier will have a mobile app for this purpose; this will be the most accurate method. If you are using an iOS device, you can track your data usage by opening up Settings, then tapping Cellular and Cellular Data Usage. You need to manually reset these statistics each month, it’s not done automatically. To do this, open up Settings then Cellular and tap Reset Statistics at the bottom of the page. If you’re an Android user (4.0 or later) you can check your data usage using the same method. You also have the ability to set limits and alerts – within Settings tap Wireless & Networks then select Data Usage. A table will be displayed, showing your data usage. Select Set Mobile Data Limit and move the red and black lines to enable an alert when you’ve used a chosen amount of data.
#7 Restrict background data
Background processes on your phone such as emails syncing, updates to weather widgets and feeds and auto-updating apps can use up your data even when you’re not using your device. You can restrict these processes in several easy ways. If you are an iOS user, open up Settings and tap Cellular. You can now review which apps are using background data and restrict them to update via Wi-Fi only. You’ll also notice an increase in battery life once these processes are restricted. To view data usage on Android devices, open Settings, select Wireless & Networks and then Data Usage. Depending on which version of Android you have, there are different ways of restricting background data. You may be able to restrict all background data – open Settings, then Data Usage and select Restrict Background Data. Alternatively, you may have to manage apps individually by opening up Settings and then Apps. You can also change your synch settings in Google Play to ensure apps will only update when connected to Wi-Fi. To do this, open up Settings and navigate to Accounts. Select Google and review the list of services. To turn off Auto-Update for a particular service simply uncheck the box.
#8 Compress data while browsing
Compressing data while browsing is an easy way to make your monthly allowance last longer. There are several tools for doing this.
Opera Mini Browser: This browser is available for iOS, Android and Windows phone. It saves data by compressing sites before loading on your device, gives you the ability to manage image quality or disable image loading, and also reduces video buffering. You can also disable the data-saving features of Opera while you’re connected to Wi-Fi. To access data saving within Opera, tap the O icon (located at the bottom of the screen) and select Savings Enabled.
Onavo Extend App: Available on Android and iOS, the Onavo Extend app has the potential to extend your data plan by up to five times It compresses images and text, allows you to choose image quality and displays which apps are using the most apps.
Google Chrome Data Saver: The Google Chrome app for Android and iOS has a built-in data saving feature. To access this open up the main menu within Chrome by tapping the three dots and then Settings Select Bandwidth and then enable Data Saving.
Exceeding your data limit can be costly and inconvenient. However, by making a few simple changes you can make the most of your allowance. By making your browsing habits more efficient through compressed data and by changing usage settings, you can save a huge amount of data. You’ll also notice your data usage is decreased by restricting background processes and updating apps over Wi-Fi only. Following these eight tips will ensure you always get the most from your data plan each month, without wasting a single megabyte.