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5 Tips to Save Your Mobile Data

By Claire Rosenfeld

Most of us now use our smartphones to do stuff online: Check our email, read the news, or watch a video. And whenever we do, we’re using data—sometimes, a lot of it. How much? Here are a few common activities and the estimated amount of data each uses. Keep in mind that 1024 bytes = 1KB, 1024KB = 1MB and 1024MB = 1GB.

  • Refreshing your Facebook feed: 50KB
  • Sending 10–20 emails a day (no attachments): 20MB per month
  • Streaming music or podcasts for two hours a day: 3.5GB per month
  • Watching 60 minutes of standard-definition video a day: 8GB per month

If you’re watching the amount of data you use each month, here are five ways to keep data usage in check:

1. Use Wi-Fi
This is the oldest—and best—trick in the book for minimizing data usage. Whenever you’re able to access a secure Wi-Fi network, connect to it. Any files you download, videos you watch, social media feeds you refresh, etc.—none of it will use your monthly mobile plan’s data.

2. If you use Google Maps, download local areas
If you’re like me, you spend most of your time in a few neighborhoods. Take a moment to download Google Maps of your local spots and you’ll have a faster, more data-friendly experience with the popular navigation app. Here’s how: when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, open the Google Maps app, search for the area of your choice, click on its details page and then select download. Learn more from Google’s support instructions.

3. Download podcasts and music over Wi-Fi instead of streaming them
Music streaming apps like Spotify and Google Play offer the option to stream songs and playlists offline. If you enable offline streaming when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, you can enjoy your tunes without taking a data hit. The same goes for podcasts—if you listen to your favorite podcast during your commute, a little planning will save you a lot of data. Download your podcast via Wi-Fi before you step out the door.

4. Turn off video autoplay on social media sites
Social media apps like Facebook and Twitter automatically play your friends’ videos while you’re perusing your newsfeed. It makes the social media experience fun, yes, but it also uses a lot of data. In your social media app settings, turn off autoplay so you don’t eat into your data while scrolling through your newsfeed. Learn how to turn off autoplay by using Facebook’s support instructions.

5. Disable autosync for email and calendar
By default, many smartphones are continuously fetching new emails and calendar information from servers. Unless you really need real-time email and calendar alerts, consider turning off autosync within the apps, or setting the syncs to happen less frequently.

A couple years ago, I read about a woman in France who ended her contract with her local provider and was told to await her final bill. The total, when it arrived, was the equivalent of $15 quadrillion, or 6,000 times the French national GDP. But, hey, we’ve all been there. OK, actually we haven’t. But most of us have received a data overage charge. Follow the five above steps, and you can keep those overage charges to a minimum. And if you are a CREDO Mobile customer, learn how to get real-time data usage alerts.