Increasingly sophisticated phones and data-hungry applications make it easier than ever to blow through your cellphone plan’s data cap…and incur nasty overage charges. Read on as we show you how to manage your data use.
Just a few short years ago it would have been almost unheard of to blow through multiple GB of mobile data. Now apps have ballooned in size (it’s not uncommon for apps and their updates to exceed 100MB in size), and with streaming music and video becoming more popular, it’s easy to burn through your data cap in a matter of days.
Watching an hour of standard definition streaming video on Netflix or Youtube will readily and easily chew through a gigabyte of data. Bump that stream up to HD, and the data usage basically triples –about three gigabytes of data will be used. Streaming high-quality music over services like Google Play Music or Spotify? You’re looking at about 120MB an hour for that. It may not seem like much at first, but do that for an hour a day for a week and you’re up to 840MB. An hour a day for a month puts you at roughly 3.2GB. If you’re on a 5GB data plan, you just used roughly 65% of it on music alone.
Sure, you could pay more for a bigger plan, but who wants to do that? Before you fork over your hard-earned dollars, here are some tricks for reducing your data usage (and keeping an eye on it).
How to Check Your Data Usage
Before anything else, you need to check your data usage. If you don’t know what your typical usage looks like, you have no idea how mildly or severely you need to modify your data consumption patterns.
You can get a rough estimate of your data usage using Sprint , AT&T , or Verizon’s calculators , but the best thing to do is actually check your usage over the past few months.
The easiest way to check past data usage is to log into the web portal of your cellular provider (or check your paper bills) and look at what your data usage is. If you’re routinely coming in way under your data cap, you may wish to contact your provider and see if you can switch to a less expensive data plan. If you’re coming close to the data cap or exceeding it, you will definitely want to keep reading.
You can also check your current month’s usage right from Android. Navigate to Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data Usage. You’ll see a screen that looks something like the first screen here: