The Facebook app on your phone could the one of the biggest users of mobile data. If you are near to or exceeding your data limit, reduce Facebook data usage with these essential tweaks.
Facebook has plenty of faults, but even so, it is hard to give up completely. There are now two billion people on the social network and that is one third of the total population of the planet, which is an incredible statistic.
If you are a Facebook user, whether you are hooked on it and check your news feed every 10 minutes or are just an occasional user, you need these tips. Facebook can gobble up data quite rapidly with the wrong settings on your phone.
This guide is written using the Android version of Facebook, but don’t be put off if you are an iPhone user because many tips apply to iOS too.
Stop updating apps
Some apps are updated quite often, but none more frequently than Facebook and every two weeks there is a new version of the app. The app is 173MB installed on Android. The download will be less because it is compressed, but it is still a significant amount.
It depends on the phone's settings, but it could be updating using your mobile data twice a month! (So can other apps too.)
- Open the Google Play Store app
- Press the menu button in the top left corner
- Press Settings
- Press Auto-update apps
- Select either Do no auto-update apps or Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only
You should definitely avoid Auto-update apps at any time. As it says, data charges may apply.
There is also an update option within the app itself, so it is best disabling this too.
- Open the Facebook app
- Press the menu button in the top right corner
- Press App Settings
- Press App updates
There is a switch to let Facebook auto-update over Wi-Fi. That is OK, but it is worth checking to make sure Facebook does not change this setting to update over mobile data at some point in the future.
Limit Facebook uploads
Facebook uploads can be data the app uploads by itself, but there are also your own uploads, such as photo and video posts. Both can be limited to reduce the amount of mobile data used.
- Open the Facebook app and press the menu button
- Select Settings
- Press App Settings
- Turn off Continuous Contacts Upload
- Turn off Upload photos in HD
- Turn off Upload videos in HD
Obviously videos are the biggest data user here and even short clips can require tens of megabytes. However, photos use a significant amount of data because we upload so many. You don’t want to post raw photos straight off the camera, so let Facebook process them. The difference isn’t noticeable.
Disable Facebook auto-playing videos
In Facebook > Settings > App Settings, just below the features listed above, is Auto-play. Press it and there are three options. Avoid the first one - On Mobile Data and Wi-Fi Connections!
Either of the bottom two options are OK. I prefer not to auto-play videos. I’ll press the play button if I want to watch one. It’s up to you though.
Enable Facebook Data Saver
There is a useful feature in Facebook that is great when using the app on mobile data and it can automatically reduce image sizes and stop videos playing automatically.
- Press the menu button in Facebook
- Press Data Saver
- Turn on Data Saver
There is an option to automatically turn off Data saver when on Wi-Fi. This is up to you. Wi-Fi data is unlimited, but if you have a budget phone with limited memory and processing power, it might be useful to enable data savings all the time. Try it and see.
The downside of this useful feature is the ugly orange bar it puts at the top of the screen. It is so irritating you might want to disable Data Saver.
Facebook Mobile Data settings
There is an option right down at the bottom of Facebook settings labelled Mobile Data. Press it and you are encouraged to install something called Protect to control your mobile data.
The install button on my phone does nothing. This may be because the recommended app is not available in my area, or perhaps Facebook has stopped recommending whatever app it was.
Delete the Facebook app
The Facebook app is a convenience and not a necessity because the website works perfectly well in a browser on a phone. Go to facebook.com and it shows a site that is optimised for mobile: m.facebook.com
You can do almost everything with the Facebook mobile site that you can do with the app, such as reading posts, sharing your own posts, including photos.
The advantage of using a browser to access Facebook and not the app is that no data will be used when the browser is not open.
One disadvantage is that Facebook does not appear among the Share options when you share stuff in apps. If you don’t share much anyway, this is not much of an inconvenience.
Another disadvantage is that some apps use the Facebook app to log in. Games sometimes require a Facebook login for example. The is easier and smoother with the Facebook app installed.
Turn off mobile data
This is the nuclear option and stopping all mobile data prevents every app from accessing the internet when not within range of Wi-Fi. Use it when you are down to your last few megabytes of data to prevent you from going over your limit and incurring additional charges on your phone bill.
How you do this depends on the version of Android and phone. Here’s how I do it on my Samsung Galaxy S6 with Android 7.
- Go to Settings
- Press Connections
- Press Data usage
- Turn off the Mobile data switch
This is a very useful section of the Settings app and it shows the data limit, the data used so far, and the renewal date. (Tap Billing lower down the screen to set the limit, data warnings and renewal date.)
As you can see in the screenshot above, my phone also has a Data saver option. This might not be available on every phone with every version of Android, but look and see. Turning it on limits the amount of data that apps use.
Turn off data completely when you reach your limit, but as you approach it, it is useful to start limiting data usage with this setting.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 01 July 2017