Data is your hero when you’re out and about and unable to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Whether you need to WhatsApp someone, post something on social media, find your way using maps, or stream your favourite show, we’re more reliant on mobile data than ever before.
Yet we all know it can be pricey if you go over your monthly limit – and a huge mobile bill is the last thing you need.
Luckily, we’ve put together tips and tricks for tracking and curbing your data usage, so you can still enjoy using your data and avoid any potential charges.
Tracking Your Data Usage
Tracking your data usage
Okay, so we may be biased here; if you’re an iD Mobile customer, the best way to track your data usage is to use the iD Mobile app. The app is free to use (it doesn’t use up any of your data), and best of all, it’s real-time, so you’ll see exactly how much you’ve got left at the point you’re checking it.
How to check your data usage using the iD Mobile App:
Open iD Mobile app > Log in > Your remaining allowances for that month will appear on the Dashboard tab (It’s that simple).
You can also track your data usage on your device; however, this can be misleading as it’s not based on your exact billing month. If you’re using an Apple phone, you’ll need to manually reset your counter when your allowances refresh. And on an Android phone, it’ll be based on the calendar month and not your billing month. So, we’d always recommend the iD Mobile app as your first port of call.
Nonetheless, here’s how you check your data usage on your phone:
Open Settings > Select Mobile Data > Scroll Down to the apps List - your data usage is shown under ‘Current Period’.
Please note that your ‘Current Period’ is not your billing month but a calculation since you last manually reset your counter.
Open Settings > Select Network & internet settings > Select data usage – your data usage for that calendar month will be shown on the screen.
Top tips to reduce your data usage
Use Wi-Fi whenever you can
This one’s simple. Wi-Fi is free and it’s pretty much everywhere. Whether you’re in a café, park or shop, chances are there will be Wi-Fi near you.
Sometimes you might have to sign up with an email address, but increasingly Wi-Fi is free to use and anybody can access it. If you do have to get a password, the good news is that your phone will remember it for next time, and you’ll be able to connect automatically.
Restrict background data
There’s no point allowing apps to sap data when you’re not using them. Restrict your background data to stop this happening. It’s not a magical solution – you’ll still to make sure you have enough data in your plan to cover your usage – but it will help save mobile data for apps you are using.
Go to Settings > Wi-Fi & Internet > Data usage > Cellular data usage. Click on an individual app, then untick Background data – this means you’ll only use data when you’re using the app.
Restrict all background data – go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and set the slider to off.
Restrict individual apps – go to Settings > General > Restrictions and Enable Restrictions. Once you’ve set a PIN number, you can go through each app individually.
Using maps? Go offline
We all depend on maps and GPS to get us around, but they can be a massive drain on data. The good news is that you can now download maps and use them offline. How? Just open Google Maps and find the area you want to map.
Once you’ve found the place you want to download, tap the bottom and a larger menu will pop up. Tap Download. You’ll find your downloads under Offline maps under the Google Maps menu.
Open the menu in Google Maps, then tap Offline areas and then the plus icon on the lower right. Select the area you want to download, press Download, name it and tap Save.
Use streaming services with offline options
Loads of us are YouTube bingers and are subscribed to all kinds of channels. The problem is that it’s easy to burn through all your data in just one kitten video marathon. Fortunately, Youtube Red is a subscription service where you can download videos and watch them offline any time.
If music is what your data gets used on, try Apple Music, Google Play Music or Spotify. Most will offer a feature where you can download your favourite songs and albums.
If podcasts are more your thing, apps like Castbox will automatically download episodes of your fave podcasts when WiFi is present, so there’s no need to waste data.
Change your browsing habits
Most sites will automatically have mobile versions, but always choose the mobile version if given the option.
Try not to delete your browser cache either. Yes, it does take up a little space on your phone, but it will save your phone from downloading everything from websites you frequently visit.
You can also compress pages before downloading – which saves you even more data. But how?
Tap the three dots at the top right, choose Settings > Lite mode. This is a little different to page compression, as Google rewrites the page to only give you the essentials – while saving you up to 60% of data.
Other browsers like Opera Mini will do this automatically.
Turn off automatic downloading in messaging apps like Whatsapp
Your mates may be keen to share some embarrassing pics from your night out, but some things are bad enough without throwing away mobile data too. Fortunately, you can turn off automatic downloading and just download things when you want to.
Open WhatsApp and tap the three dots at the top-right corner. Go to Settings > Data and Storage Usage. Under Media auto-download there are three options: When using mobile data, When connected on Wi-Fi, and when roaming. Tap on each of these options, deselect all options, then tap OK. Look further down the page and you can also reduce the data used in a call by toggling Low data usage.
Be careful watching/uploading on Social Media
Uploading and watching auto-play videos is one of the easiest ways to use a ton of data. Plus, images and videos are increasingly high quality, which can mean a ton of data.
You can use less data on Insta by slowing down the amount of time that videos taken to load. From the main menu, select Settings > Account > Cellular Data Use. You’ll then have the options to Use less data (iPhone) or Data saver (Android).
If you’re on Android, you’ll see an extra setting allowing you to control when Instagram shows you High Resolution Media. Make sure it’s on WiFi only.
When scrolling through your feed, auto-playing videos are everywhere. Fortunately, you can turn these off.
In the Facebook app, tap on the menu on the right-hand side. Scroll down to Settings & Privacy. Now tun on Data Saver. This will reduce image sizes and stop videos from playing automatically.