Every year, the amount of data smartphone users need per month rises. It’s no coincidence that data plans also seem to be getting expensive. Back in 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported that people use an average of 733 MB a month. Now, in 2015, the average smartphone users go through 2.9 GB of data in the same time period. Thirty percent only use 500 MB a month, but the rest of us probably need more than that.
With data plans costing what they do, you should take care not to go over whatever your cell plan allows. Cutting back on data usage doesn’t have to be painful or drastically alter your habits. Just follow these ten tips and you’ll stay under your plan’s cap.
See What You’re Downloading
Monitor your data usage to see what apps are the most costly. For Android users, go to settings and then “data usage” to get a useful report.
Apple users can go to “setting” and then “cellular.” Scroll down to the bottom to see how much data each app is burning through. There are a handful of apps that offer more detailed monitoring options.
Use Wi-Fi Whenever You Can
No matter where you are, check to see if a Wi-Fi connection is available. You’ll be surprised just how many places you go to are connected. Also, some of the big cable companies offer free public Wi-Fi to their customers, so see if you can get on that.
Several different Opera browsers have some excellent options to limit data usage. The Chrome browser, which comes as the default on Android devices, also has bandwidth management tools. Check them out.
If you’re planning on doing some reading, use an app like Pocket to download articles on Wi-Fi and read them later without using any data. Similarly, download podcasts for later instead of streaming them.
Turn Off Facebook’s Autoplay
Facebook offers an annoying feature that automatically plays videos as you’re scrolling through your news feed. Get rid of this by going to the “settings” section of the app, clicking on “videos” and turning off autoplay.
Turn Off Background App Refresh
Many apps will run in the background, quietly taking up data. Put an end to this and ensure that non-essential apps aren’t being wasteful. On Apple devices, you can turn off background app refresh in the settings and target specific apps. The task manager on Android devices serves a similar function in disabling apps.
Try Offline Maps
Depending on you use your maps apps, offline maps might be a great alternative.
One of the best ones out there is Maps.me, which tracks your location in real-time, offers routes and is up-to-date with surrounding businesses and sights. You choose which state/country you want the maps for and then download the information for free. Just make sure you do the initial download over Wi-Fi because some of these files are huge.
Look Out for Games
Wasting some time on games is good fun, but when it comes to data usage, not all games are created equal. Some games, especially online multiplayer games, can sneakily go through your data. That’s why it’s a good idea to look at your data usage to see what’s hogged the most data over time.
Be Careful What You Scroll Through
You bought a smartphone with a data plan to be able to look at whatever you want, and cutting back is annoying. However, when you’re not on Wi-Fi you should be mindful of watching too many videos or scrolling through too many photos. A single video or a few Instagram photos won’t put too much strain on your available data, but enough of them will over time.
Figure Out How Much Data Is Enough
Finally, the best way to save money is to figure out how much data you actually need. When you put these good habits into action, you might be able to downgrade your plan and save a fair amount of money. Just be mindful of what the financial penalties are for going over your data usage to see if downgrading is worthwhile. Some people end up spending too much money by regularly going over.