How to save your mobile data

  • 22 July 2019
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How to save your mobile data
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Struggling to stick to your data limit? Here are some top tips to help you save data and stop getting charged.

Data is your hero when you’re in a Wi-Fi dead zone and desperately need to WhatsApp your mates or upload a new story to Insta.

But it can be pricey if you end up going over your monthly limit – and a huge mobile bill at the end of the month is the last thing you need.

Luckily, there are top tips and tricks for curbing your data usage so you can still get online, without paying through the nose.

Know your total data usage

Knowing your data limit and keeping tabs on your usage makes it much easier to stop before you’re charged. Not sure how to check this?

On Android:

Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Data usage. A bar will show you how much of your data you’ve used – and how much you have left before hitting your limit.

Check the App data usage to see how much data each app uses on its own.

On iOS:

Go to Settings > Mobile > Mobile Data Usage. You can see how much data you’ve used under ‘Current Period’ – which you’ll need to reset every month.

How to save mobile data

You don’t have to ration yourself when trying to save data – it’s more about knowing which apps are prime data-drainers, so you’re aware of how much you’re using.

Here are the top culprits:

Instant messaging apps like WhatsApp

All those photos and videos automatically saving to your phone are using your data without you even thinking about it.

Turn off automatic downloading by going to Settings > Chats and turn off “Media visibility”.

Social media apps

Uploading and watching auto-play videos is one of the easiest ways to use a ton of data.


YouTube, Spotify and Netflix don’t just stream content – they suck up your data. See if you can restrict streaming to Wi-Fi only in (have a look in the settings) so you’ve got an automatic barrier in place.

Background data

Sneaky apps using data in the background is a sure-fire way to drain your data. Restricting them is a super easy way to cut down on using too much.

How to 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.

On Android:

Go to Settings > Networks & Internet > Data usage > App data usage. Click on an individual app, then untick Background data – this means you’ll only use data when you’re using the app.

On iOS:

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.

How much data do I need?

This depends on what you use your phone for and how often you go over your current data plan – is it every month, or just sometimes?

The easiest way to do this is by looking at what you’re doing. Rank these actions by whether you do them a lot, or not:

  • Browse social media
  • Send and receive messages via instant messenger apps
  • Use apps to make voice or video calls
  • Send and receive emails
  • Use online apps or download new apps
  • Stream video or music
  • Surf the internet
It’s also about lifestyle. You can you save data by using Wi-Fi at home, at work or on the train. Consider whether you use data to stream music while you’re walking to work, or for maps to help you get places. Or if you need to use your phone as a hotspot, i.e. for your work laptop when there’s no Wi-Fi.

What does data look like in numbers?

2GB – enough for the basics, but not data luxuries, so you’ll have to find a Wi-Fi spot to send those Snapchat videos.

4GB – enough for 1–2 hours’ worth of data use a day, perfect for the commute.

8GB – plenty of data for browsing the web, shopping online and streaming videos all month long.

12GB – a huge amount of data that means you’ll never have to use Wi-Fi, for if you’re working remotely.

How do I set my data usage limit?

There’s one fool proof way to help you avoid going over your data limit – set a warning to cut off your data when you’re close. It’s like the big red button for emergencies. A last resort to help avoid catastrophe. But beware – once you’ve hit it you’ll be confined to Wi-Fi and you won’t be able to use any data to:

  • send and receive messages or calls on apps
  • access the internet
  • access social media

Still want to set up a warning?

Here’s how:

On Android:

Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Data usage > Mobile data usage > Settings, and then turn ‘Data warning’ on.

Set the amount of data you want as your limit – ideally just under your data usage plan limit – then press Set.

On iOS:

You can’t set an alert directly with iOS, so you’ll need to download an app that can do it for you – like DataMan.

You can also set your phone to automatically turn off your data when you hit your limit.

On Android:

Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Data usage > Mobile data usage > Settings and turn on ‘Set data limit’. Choose ‘OK’ on the pop-up message, then ‘Data limit’ – put in your Gb limit and press ‘Set’.

On iOS:

Again, there’s no way of doing this directly, but you can set your iPhone to switch to Wi-Fi networks whenever they’re available. Go to Settings > Mobile Data and turn off Wi-Fi Assist.

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