Mobile data burns fast, especially if you’re the type who likes to stay connected 24/7. Refreshing social feeds, watching videos, downloading emails – all these seemingly small actions can really take a toll on your data allowance. So when you’ve only got a mobile plan with a limited amount of GB to work with, it’s best to make the most of them.
First things first: the term “data allowance” refers to the amount of mobile internet usage you are permitted by your contract. Whenever you go online without being connected to a Wi-Fi network you consume a bit of that allowance. The amount of data you have available depends on how much you’re willing to pay on your contract and can vary from as little as 500mb to 20GB or more, based on what your chosen provider is offering. If you go over your data allowance you’re usually required to pay an extra fee, so it’s best to browse within your means.
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While keeping data in check is always wise, plans packing generous amounts of GB are now more affordable than ever. For instance, starting October 2017, amaysim upped data inclusions so you can enjoy 5GB of data anytime for only $30/month. Boost is offering bonus data on the weekend and all plans, as well as unlimited international minutes on their higher tier plans. And Virgin knows how to keep data-hungry clients happy – their Spring 2017 offers stay testament to that.
How to stay on top of your data allowance
Maximizing your data allowance isn’t an exact science and vastly depends on your mobile habits. For instance, checking email and Facebook every now and then doesn’t burn through a lot of data. However, streaming TV or videos, downloading files or playing certain games can quickly run you dry. Generally speaking, 1GB of data equals about 2 hours of video streaming, 2,000 emails sent or received, or 1024 web pages loaded. Keep this in mind when choosing a mobile plan.
The first thing you need to do in order to keep your mobile data in check is monitor your usage. Most telcos enable you to check your data usage by logging into your account online or by calling their customer service number. Furthermore, most smartphones measure approximately how much data you’re burning through – information you can easily access from the Settings menu. You can also set warnings, so your phone will let you know when you’ve used a certain amount of data.
Knowing how much data you have available at any given time can help you maximize your allowance and get the most out of it. Willing to take things one step further? We have some additional tips that may come in handy.
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Use Wi-Fi whenever available
Turn off the 3G/4G data connection whenever you don’t need it and take advantage of both public and private Wi-Fi networks. Streaming videos or using apps over Wi-Fi won’t use any of your data allowance, so it’s best to keep your mobile data for when you really need it. If you’re at home, connect to your own private network. At work? Ask if you can tap into the company’s network. If you’re in a café, ask if they have Wi-Fi. You get the idea. However, keep in mind that public Wi-Fi networks aren’t always secure, so it’s best not to share any sensitive info when you connect to them.
Note: For iPhone users: if you’re running iOS9 or above, be wary of the Wi-Fi assist feature. This feature uses mobile data to help boost poor Wi-Fi signals. You can turn it off by going to Settings > Mobile data > Wi-Fi Assist.
Close apps when not using them
Even when you’re not actively using apps, they can run in the phone’s background, consuming both your battery and your data. They usually refresh the feed, sync data, or track your location – again, seemingly small actions, but they can quickly add up! To make sure your data isn’t wasted on apps you’re not even using, turn off background apps.
You can also restrict background data on both iOS and Android. In Android, tap on Settings, then Data Usage. You will see a list of your apps and the amount of data they’re each using. Click on each one and enable ‘Restrict background data’. This will stop the app accessing the internet until you open it first or connect to a Wi–Fi network. In iOS, go to Settings, then General, then Background App Refresh. You’ll stumble upon a list of all your apps. Tap the toggle to the right to turn background data usage off for each app. In the Settings/Mobile menu you can see how much data each app uses, and disable mobile data for them if you want to. And if you hit the System Services button at the bottom of the Settings/Mobile menu you’ll be able to see how much data your iPhone’s operating system is using.
Turn off app updates over data connection
Apps and software installed on your phone regularly update via the internet. However, the files they download can sometimes be huge and take a toll on your data connection. To avoid this, chose to only download updates when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. If you’re an iPhone user, go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Use mobile data and toggle it off so your data connection won’t be used for updates. If you’re using Android, go to Play Store > Settings > Auto-update apps and choose Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only. Voila!
Turn off push notifications
Push notifications appear when an app has some activity it wants to inform you of. Messaging apps are famous for using them, but more and more apps are following the pattern and sending notifications to jog your memory to log in or perform a specific action. These apps usually work in the background and use up data so you can stay informed, which means that turning off push notifications can sometimes help you save up your MB for when you need to send that urgent WhatsApp message or upload that cute selfie on Facebook.
In iOS, got to Settings > Notification Centre. You will see a list of all the installed apps that use push notifications. Select an app and a few options will appear: None, Banners, and Alerts. Hit None and your phone will no longer enable push notifications for that particular app. In Android, go to Settings > Apps. Choose the app you want and you will see the Show Notifications check box. Uncheck it to switch off notification. Press OK and you’re good to go.
Curious on which telcos have the best data deals? Compare mobile plans to make sure you get the best offers available.
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