Data Usage: Learn how to reduce yours.

Man on phone discussing data usage

Technology advances each year, and trying to keep up can be daunting. While improving technology is a wonderful thing for people of all ages, it can also be quite frustrating. Have you ever received your phone bill and noticed a spike in data usage…and in cost…without knowing why? You’re not alone.

Sometimes it seems that the newer the smartphone, the smarter we have to be to use them. An increase in cost can be caused by an overage of minutes, messages or data. This article focuses on data usage, which can be difficult to monitor.

Most Popular Apps

The following apps are the most popular in America:

Facebook
Facebook Messenger
YouTube
Google Maps
Google Search
Google Play
Gmail
Pandora
Instagram
Amazon Mobile
Apple Music
Apple Maps
Snapchat
Pinterest
Google Drive

If you recognize some of the apps from the list above, you’ve probably used these apps while using cellular data. Cellular data is how you surf the web and utilize these apps without using WiFi. If you’re connected to WiFi, these apps WILL NOT use data. If you are not on WiFi, these apps WILL use cellular data.

Of the apps listed above, YouTube, Instagram and Google Chrome are the ones that use the most data. You can’t reduce the amount of data these apps use, but there are a few ways to monitor and minimize your data usage. Many of us have limited data packages, and monitoring that data usage is important. What you may not realize, however, is that our smartphones sometimes use data even when we are connected to WiFi!

WiFi is a fantastic resource that opens up an entire world. At times, though, it can be slow or you can lose the connection completely. Because of this, companies like Apple, Android and Samsung, among others, have created an option to allow your smartphone to use cellular data when your internet connection is slow. This is a great, and sometimes beneficial, feature, but it often results in surprise data usage.

Fortunately, there are ways to stop your phone from using your data both while using WiFi and while using LTE.

iOS (Apple Devices)

Launch the Settings app. Tap Cellular. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and switch the Wi-Fi Assist toggle to Off. Get more info at Apple.com.

Android

Launch the Settings app. Tap Wi-Fi. Select the Menu icon. Tap Advanced. Tap Smart Network Switch to enable or disable. (If presented with the “Smart Network Switch” prompt, tap OK to continue.)

If you prefer to have WiFi Assist or Smart Network Switch “on” for your usage, or if you want to limit the apps you’re able to use while using your data, you can pick and choose which apps you want to restrict to WiFi usage. You simply need to go to your settings on your phone, look under your cellular data usage, and turn off the toggle that allows that specific app to use WiFi.

For more information on setting up your phone to be easy to use, read this blog post.

One additional way to minimize data usage is to close out apps after you’re done using them. Apps running in the background use data, too. To close out apps on an iPhone, double click the home button (unless you have an iPhone X!) and swipe up to close the application. To close apps on an Android phone, open Settings > Data Usage > Cellular Data Usage. From there, tap the apps you do not want to use data in the background.

These steps not only reduce your data usage, but can also speed up your WiFi and increase battery life!