How to save mobile data and minimise waste

A quick guide on how to prevent the frustration of realising that you're out of mobile data

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The Indian mobile market is now inundated with big data offers, with the likes of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular following in the footsteps of Reliance Jio to corner their respective market shares. Such new deals are great for users who do not enjoy the comforts of home Wi-Fi but still want to consume a lot of content online, with mobile data being the only way to do so. If you are one such user, we have a few tips for you. These should ensure that not only will you be able to consume as much data as you need, but at the same time, you will avoid data loss on things that you can otherwise avoid.

Keep a track on data usage
A major reason why people sometimes run out of available data is that they fail to keep track of the amount of data they regularly consume. Thankfully, modern smartphone operating systems allow users to check how much data they have consumed in a given period of time and how much of it was used by individual apps. If you own an Android phone, you can check your data consumption by visiting Settings, tapping on Wireless & Networks and then on Data usage. The data usage metre typically shows consumption levels for the last thirty days and shows how much data is left for the user to consume. On the same window, you can also set data usage limits so that your phone can send you alerts as and when the ceiling is reached.

If you own an iPhone, you can check data usage by going to Settings and then tap on Cellular followed by Cellular Data Usage. The usage statistics show the amount of usage within cellular zones as well as on roaming. At the same time, it will let you disallow certain apps from accessing cellular data.

A more accurate way of keeping track on data usage is to download carrier apps. Carrier apps offer you accurate readings on your monthly data allotment, how much of it has been used and the number of days remaining from your present billing cycle. Using these apps, you can also select new data plans which offer more juice but cost the same.

Limit background data usage
A lot of apps are notorious for consuming a lot of data in the background while you sleep. Unless you adjust your device settings appropriately, some apps will use your precious cellular data to sync with other content and download updates. Such background app activities often result in bill shocks for consumers and can be easily avoided. To ensure rogue app do not consume cellular data in the background, you can stop them in data usage settings. This will also allow you to save a big chunk of battery life which will, in turn, help you run your phone for a few hours longer.

Use Wi-Fi to the max
The easiest way to limit cellular data usage is to turn it off as soon as you are within range of your home or office Wi-Fi router. Regular broadband offerings come with a lot more data than cellular ones and let you perform high-consumption activities like streaming music and binge-watching movies. You can also use Wi-Fi to update all of your apps quickly as well as new OS versions which require a lot of data. If you have premium subscriptions to streaming apps, you can download a lot of music and movies for offline listening on Wi-Fi and consume them while travelling or when away from your Wi-Fi router.

Limit Facebook
A large percentage of posts on Facebook now run video content which is set on auto-play mode by default. If you are using cellular data, a flurry of videos on Facebook can end up using too much data for your liking. To stop this from happening, you can use the settings menu on your Facebook app as follows:

Android phones:

  1. Tap on Menu and then browse down until you reach HELP & SETTINGS
  2. Click on App Settings
  3. Click on Auto-play
  4. Tap on the circular box next to ‘On Wi-Fi Connections only’.

Apple iPhone:

  1. Tap on Menu and then on Settings
  2. Click on Account Settings
  3. Click on Videos and Photos and then on Autoplay
  4. Tap on ‘On Wi-Fi Connections only’.

You can also limit cellular data usage by the Facebook app by visiting your phone’s settings and removing Facebook from the list of apps that can access cellular data.

Disable Wi-Fi Assist in iPhones
While Android phone users can do with the four steps mentioned above, iPhone users have one more thing to worry about. A few years ago, Apple took a well-meaning step and launched Wi-Fi Assist which later turned out to be a bane for many users.

If your Wi-Fi signal is weak or too slow to support video or music streaming, the Wi-Fi Assist feature combines your Wi-Fi signal with your phone’s cellular data to offer a seamless streaming and browsing experience. While this ensures that you enjoy good speeds at all times, it ends up consuming a lot of your cellular data without you realising it. A better option would be to disable Wi-Fi Assist for good and choosing a broadband connection which guarantees speeds above 1 Mbps at all times.