Android 101: Managing your mobile data consumption (and save money)
Oct 16, 2013 8:36 AM –
Welcome to the latest Android 101 in our series of easy-to-follow tutorials which are ideal for new or inexperienced Android users. In this article, we’re going to look at managing your data usage which could save money on data plans.
When you use the internet on your device you do so either using mobile data, which is provided by your mobile carrier (Verizon, Vodafone, Sprint and so on) or over WiFi which is usually in your home, workplace or local hotspots such as coffee shops and so forth.
Now, especially with regards to mobile data, many people have limits- their plan only allows so much data usage per calendar month. For me, it’s 500MB. Before the more experienced of you start laughing, yes that is low, but I’m nearly always on WiFi anyway, UK data speeds are generally woeful anyway so I save all my usage for WiFi and I simply struggle to get anywhere near that level anyway, so why opt for more?
On the majority of Android devices, there are ways of managing your data consumption and ensuring you do not go over the limit. In the past, apps have been able to do this for you but now it is embedded into Google’s more up to date operating systems. You access it by opening your settings screen and selecting ‘Data usage’:
Initially, you are presented with the screen below. This shows a chart of your mobile data usage plus various toggles and boxes to tick, including:
- Mobile data toggle (lets you completely switch off mobile data usage. This won’t affect calls, but will stop your device using the internet while you are away from WiFi)
- Tick box which allows you to set a mobile data limit (more detail about this below)
- Data usage cycle (for example, if you’re on a monthly plan, you can set it to show information between these dates)
- The data usage chart
- List of apps which are using the data, such as Chrome
When you click the ‘Set mobile data limit’ box, you get a short warning like the one below. Essentially, your device can shut off your data usage if you get to a certain amount, meaning you won’t go over your data plan limits- which could cost you a lot of money. You can also set a level at which you get a warning notification that you are close to your preset limit.
To do this, simply drag your finger red and orange lines, moving them to your desired levels. This will depend on your data allowance but it’s recommended to give yourself enough warning so you are not automatically cut off. Obviously you can disable this, but it might be hugely frustrating at the time.
Additionally, you can drag the white bars from side to side which will show you what data you have used during that time frame. This is perhaps useful for noticing busier days or analyzing when you use your data more or less during the month.
If/when you do get to the warning level, a notification will display like the one below:
Below the charts and toggles, you can find a list of apps which have been using your data. This lets you check which apps are using the most and maybe allow you to stop them doing so or at least see what they are up to. By clicking on each app listed, you get a nice graphic pie chart and associated information, as below:
In addition to monitoring your mobile data, you can also view your WiFi usage. To see this, you must first clock the menu button as shown below, then click ‘Show WiFi usage’:
This will now show you two tabs; one for mobile data and one for WiFi. Mine looks like this:
Again, you can see which apps are using data the most which is, usually, the apps you use the most. However, if you find an app in the list that is consuming more data than you think it should you can restrict background settings or, if it’s a third party application from the Google Play Store, uninstall it completely.
These settings can be extremely useful, especially if you find yourself regularly hitting your data limits and accruing extra bills. Setting the limits and warnings are incredibly simple and gives you much more power over your data consumption.
I hope this has been useful. Please feel free to add comments below or reach out to us for future Android 101 suggestions.
, Android 101
, Managing Mobile Data Usage
, Managing Mobile Data Usage for Android
Categorised in: Android Advice, Featured, News