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How to cut your mobile data usage

01 September 2015 ( 29 May 2019 )

Smartphones use data without us even realising. We round up the top ten ways to cut down your data usage and stay on top of your monthly data allowance.

Senior woman using gps on smartphone
Close down apps to save your mobile data allowance

It's no secret that exceeding your monthly data allowance can be expensive. On the high street, unlimited data packages are hard to come by - leaving your monthly bill at risk of excess charges.

These days, smartphones use data without us even realising. So we've listed the top ten ways to remain data savvy on your monthly mobile bill.

1. Close apps when you’re no longer using them

This may be the most important step to take in order to save your data consumption. Leaving applications open allows your phone to consume data for no reason. 

IOS will only allow an application to carry on using data for ten minutes after it’s closed. You can only imagine how long they can continue to use your data when left open in the background!

2. Disable geo-location services

Any app that uses your location – think Groupon, Facebook messenger or Google Maps – will constantly search for your whereabouts in order to keep its content relevant and up to date. 

Disable anything unnecessarily searching for your location in the background to avoid excessive charges. 

3. Disable auto-play on social media videos

Those hilarious videos on your Facebook news feed are not quite so funny when you look at the data they consume. If your Facebook app  is automatically playing videos or gifs before you even open them, this may be one of the causes of your data problem. 

However, this is an easy fix - head to your device settings to make sure the only videos downloaded are the ones you choose to watch! Make sure you amend Instagram and Twitter settings as the problem is apparent here too.

4. Use settings to set limits on your data usage

Android users are able to set limits and receive alerts when they’re dangerously close to going over. This is a pretty smart feature that is already on the phone so get clued up on how to use it! 

As an extra precaution, switch off your 3G so that if your WiFi signal drops out, it doesn’t automatically use your data.   

5. Cut down on streaming 

Whether it’s YouTube, Spotify or Netflix – try to avoid streaming anything outside of a secure WiFi connection. 

It’s unclear how much data that streaming can use at any one time, but according to various network providers it can be anything between 120-350mb/per hour.

6. Battery usage = data usage 

Noticed your battery going down more than usual? Take note of what you’re using your phone for as battery usage is closely associated to data usage. Put simply, if your battery is being drained significantly, you’re probably using a lot of data.

Extend the life of your mobile battery

7. Download a better internet browser

Browse your app store for alternative internet browsers. Google Chrome and Opera have features that enable you to compress web pages  into a smaller size, allowing you to download smaller amounts of data. 

Images are smaller and only as detailed as they need to be — your phone doesn’t need the same high-resolution you would need on a desktop PC.

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8. Disable unwanted push notifications

Do you really need Angry Birds or Candy Crush asking you to come back and play every day? Cut out the push notifications you don’t need and reap the benefits in your data allowance. 

Head into your settings and make sure you have switched off all the notifications you don’t need.

9. Make use of free WiFi hotspots

Free WiFi is available in many places nowadays. From public transport, shops and cafes to department stores and public WiFi hotspots provided by broadband companies, look out for free WiFi when you’re out and about. 

10 tips for public WiFi security

10.   Download a data manager app

If you’re still unsure where all of your data is going, download a data manager app and organise your usage that way. There are plenty of free applications available that will tell you where and when your data is being used, or your mobile provider may have an alert service. 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.