Tuesday, March 13, 2018

6 Ways to Cut Down on Data Usage

We've all experienced the knot in our stomachs caused by receiving the notification that we've exceeded our data limit. Well, that's ten bucks we'll never get back.  It can be painful, especially when there's only a day or two left in your billing cycle. Disheartening as this may be, there are plenty of methods available to help conserve your mobile data and spare your wallet a few unnecessary blows.

1. Take every opportunity to connect to WiFi
The first and most obvious thing to do is to make sure you're connected to WiFi as often as possible. When you're browsing the web at a cafe, the chances are they've got a WiFi network. Are you hanging out at a friend's place for awhile? See if they don't mind helping you connect to their network. As long as your devices connect to WiFi, you won't be wasting money on spent data. Make sure you set your device is to connect to trusted private networks automatically. However, when plugging in at a public area, the system may not be entirely secure when it comes to protecting your sensitive information.

2. Switch data off until you need it for something specific
Another simple yet effective method to conserve data is to switch it off entirely until you plan on using it. A lot of us tend to idly open apps or games that we might think aren't using up any data. Unfortunately, many of them are. Many of these apps have nearly full functionality without their internet component, but most of them default to going online if they have the means. The best way to prevent this is to turn off mobile data in your device's settings until confronted with something that explicitly requires an internet connection.  Switching data on and off is very simple and has the potential to make a significant difference.

3. Close all background apps
Speaking of things mercilessly siphoning precious data without our knowledge, make sure that you consistently close all of your apps! Most of the time, exiting an app by just hitting the home button doesn't close it. The app continues running in the background, potentially draining unnecessary data while your device sits in your pocket. It's important to use the function that displays which apps are currently running and kill all of the ones that you're not using. On most devices this takes no more than a few seconds, so try to make a habit of doing it every time you're about to lock your device. Not only will this conserve data, but it will significantly improve your battery life as well.

4. Download content from streaming services for offline use
One colossal offender when it comes to excessive data usage is streaming music or video on your device. Streaming typically requires higher than average internet usage, and it can drain you pretty quickly if you aren't paying attention. Fortunately, many media streaming apps like Netflix and Spotify have options to download music or video to your device so that you can access it without an internet connection. Take a look through your favorite streaming apps and see if this option is available so you can keep your favorite movies, TV shows or recording artists at the ready for streaming without worrying about consuming data.

5. Set backups and automatic updates to WiFi only
There are a couple more useful tricks to ensure that you're not exceeding your monthly data plan and incurring extra charges from your service provider. If you use cloud storage programs like Google Photos, look for a setting that makes it so that the app will only backup your content when connected to WiFi. Additionally, take a look at the settings on your app store. Here, you can either turn off automatic app updates or set updates to only happen when you connect the device to WiFi. Downloading and backing up content can be demanding on your data. WiFi is the way to go for tasks like these.

6. Always be aware of how much of your data has been used
Make sure you know exactly how much data is included in your cellular plan and monitor how much you've used throughout the month. That is done differently on different devices and carriers, but it's usually as simple as navigating to the internet settings on your device and selecting something along the lines of "view data usage." Many devices even allow you to set up notifications to let you know when you've hit certain data checkpoints. Some also offer widgets to be placed on your home screen that will tell you how much data you've used so far and when your next billing cycle begins.

Keeping up with and cutting down on data usage doesn't have to be complicated! Follow these tips to eliminate unnecessary data leeches and keep your cell phone bill as low as possible.

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Robert Blake