How To Reduce Your Phone’s Mobile Data Usage

By Tracey Dowdy

If you’re like many parents, managing how quickly your family burns through your monthly data allowance can be a chore. Cell phone companies are in constant competition to offer the best deals and data plans are getting better all the time, but facing overage charges or running out of data or is no fun.

These tips and tricks will translate to savings for both your data and your dollars.

Turn off auto play – everywhere. Many websites from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to CNET autopay videos while you’re active on their site.

  • For sites like CNET, you can turn off autopay at the top of the video once it starts.
  • Facebook: Select More > Settings > Account Settings > Videos and Photos > Video Settings > Auto-play and then select either “On Wi-Fi Connections Only” or “Never Auto-plays Videos”
  • Twitter: On your profile, select the Gear icon > Settings > Data > Video Autopay and then choose “Never play videos automatically” or “Use Wi-Fi only”.
  • Instagram: On your profile, tap the Gear icon on the top, select Mobile Data Use and toggle the “Use Less Data” option.

See which apps are eating up the most data. Go to Settings > Cellular and toggle off any apps that are data-hungry. I’m looking at you Facebook.

Do yourself a favor and stop streaming. Well, not completely, just take advantage of your favorite podcast’s or Netflix’ download option whenever you can. Not all titles are downloadable on Netflix, but with options like Breaking Bad and The Crown, odds are you can find something good.

Restrict App Store and iTunes Downloads. If you’re an iPhone user, go to Settings > iTunes and App Store > Toggle off Cellular Data.

Use Chrome’s Reduce Data Mode. Some sites like The Verge can eat up 5-13 MBs of data per page. Select the “Reduce Data” feature from the settings.

Be selective about what’s downloading in the background: Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh, OR you can scroll through your list of apps and select individually.

Disable Wi-Fi assist. In theory, Wi-Fi assist is a great idea. It boosts your signal if the signal is weak. The problem is it gobbles up your data like mad. Go to Settings > Cellular > and toggle off Wi-Fi Assist.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


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