Some phone plans have quite a high data usage limit, but they are expensive. If you are on an older or cheaper plan you must keep an eye on your usage. Here’s how to manage the data used.
Although a budget phone plan may have sufficient free minutes and texts, the data allowance can be quite low. Many phone plans often have 2GB of data or more, but if you are looking to keep the cost of your phone down, the data can be 1GB or less.
It is easy to run out of data with a budget contract and there may be quite large charges once you are outside of your allocation. What can you do to reduce the data used and to monitor it? Here are some top tips.
There are several different versions of Android in use, such as 4.x, 5.x, 6.x and 7.x. All are different, so you may not have all the features here and even if you do, the screen may look slightly different to mine.
Set up data usage monitoring and warnings
- Go to Settings and press Connections.
- Press Data usage.
Here you can see the amount of data used for the current billing period and the amount that is available. Of course, you need to set up the billing period and pressing Billing cycle at the bottom enables you to configure it.
- Press Billing cycle and set the date your phone contract runs from each month
- Press Data usage warning and enter the level at which a warning should be displayed. Around 50MB less than your data limit is a good idea
- Press Data usage limit and set it to just below your allowance. When the data usage reaches this number, mobile data is disabled to prevent you using more than your allowance and incurring extra costs.
View mobile data usage
Press Mobile data usage (first screenshot) to see the total data used over the current period. Tap the date at the top of the Mobile data usage screen to view it over the previous data period.
Swipe up to see a list of apps and the amount of data each one has used. I spend a lot of time on Wi-Fi, so my data usage is very low. Your figures are probably a lot higher than mine.
Tap an app in the list above and there are two options. One is to stop the app using background data usage. In other words, it will run fine when you are using it and it will use mobile data, but when you quit, it stops using data. It will not update in the background.
You need apps like email and messengers to run in the background so you can receive emails and messages, but you may not need Twitter, Facebook and other apps to run in the background and use data.
The switch only applies to mobile data and as soon as you get a Wi-Fi signal the app will work as normal. Blocking apps with this switch can save a lot of data.
The second switch is to allow unrestricted data usage. What this means is that even with data saving settings enabled, this app will ignore them and continue to use mobile data in the background.
Do not turn on this setting for anything other than essential apps you cannot do without.
Save mobile data
There are several ways to save mobile data and we saw in the last section that apps can be prevented from using data in the background. Back at the data usage screen (first screenshot), there is a Mobile data switch. Turn it off to completely stop using data.
With no mobile data, apps that require internet access will only work on Wi-Fi. Use this switch when you reach your data allowance limit to prevent using data outside of the contract and so incurring extra charges.
Press Data saver and the switch temporarily stops all apps from using background data, except for those you have allowed.
Another way to see the amount of mobile data used by apps is to go to Settings > Apps and select an app. It shows the data used and tapping it enables you to turn off background data usage as before.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 30 September 2017