With unlimited data plans disappearing faster than the rainforests and data consumption on the rise, cherishing every MB is becoming standard practice. So what if I told you that you could cut your mobile data usage in half in less than a minute? It's easier than you might think. Just follow these five steps to use less mobile data on Android.
Note: Of course individual data savings will vary, but using these five steps literally cut my data usage in half. Feel free to adapt these tips for the specific apps you use the most or your particular usage habits.
1. Compress Chrome pages
Assuming you use Chrome for all your web traffic, this tip alone can save you 30-35 percent of your mobile browser data consumption. Compressing Chrome pages, now know as Data Saver in the settings, compresses web pages before loading them in your browser.
Using Data Saver does slow things down a tiny bit, but you quickly get used to it and a moment's delay is worth it when your data lasts so much longer. Just launch Chrome, tap the three dots in the top right hand corner, go down to Settings and then to Data Saver. Keep an eye on the graph every now and then to see your data savings grow.
2. Ditch the Facebook app
It's pretty well known among Android aficionados that Facebook is one of the worst contributors not only to data consumption, but also to resource usage and battery drain. That thing is just always chewing up the stuff you want more of on your phone. So why not replace it with something less demanding?
There's lots of alternative Facebook apps but many of those are just as hungry as the official version. Even Facebook Lite, which claims to reduce data consumption by 50 percent, still chews through hundreds of MB of data in a month.
So why not try Tinfoil for Facebook, which is simply a web app that displays the Facebook website (you can still get push notifications by using IFTTT and Pushbullet). Or simply create a Chrome shortcut in your web browser. Just open Facebook in Chrome, open the overflow menu and select Add to Home Screen.
3. Restrict background data
The easiest way to save data is to tell your apps (or the Android system itself) to restrict background data. Background data is all that internet traffic that goes on when you're not actually using an app: things like email syncing, feeds updating, weather widgets and more.
You can also tell the Android system to restrict background data in Settings > Data usage > Restrict Background Data or for individual apps in Settings > Apps (depending on which version of Android you have). You can also change your sync settings for Google services in Settings > Accounts > Google > select the account and then un-check the services you don't want syncing automatically.
4. Disable auto-updating apps
Another huge drain of your data allowance comes from the occasional bout of Google Play app updating. If you've got the Play Store set to auto-update apps, even over data connection, this could be chewing its way through your allowance every month without you even knowing.
To check, go to the Play Store and swipe out the left-hand navigation drawer. Tap Settings and at the top you'll see Auto-Update Apps. Tap this and make sure you either have it set to ''Do Not Auto-Update Apps'' or only over Wi-Fi. To manage individual apps, go to My Apps, select an app and then tap the overflow menu to check or un-check Auto-Update.
5. Put some music on your phone
Streaming services like YouTube, Spotify, Vine and other video and music sites are huge data killers. If there's a tune or album you're constantly listening to at the gym or on the way to work, you're much better off just loading it onto your phone and listening to it offline than endlessly streaming it from the web.
If you don't have a microSD card on your phone or are otherwise unable to free up too much space, you can always save music for offline listening too. It won't be as large as if you copied the album to your phone and it's easy to get rid of or replace. Trust me, if you can curb your streaming cravings, even a little, you'll see a huge reduction in data consumption.
6. Identify and limit/remove high consuming apps
In Settings > Data usage you can get a look at the apps which are consuming the most data both in the foreground and the background. This can be really useful for knowing which apps you should restrict.
Take Gmail, for example. On my phone it has downloaded 451 MB of emails in the background – what if I don't even use the app? This is a scenario where you could simply remove the app, limit how often it syncs or prevent it from downloading attachments to reduce data consumption.
7. Navigate offline
Google maps can use up quite a bit of your mobile data if you're not careful, but thankfully it is possible to use Google Maps offline. Follow our guide and see how much data you could save. Furthermore, why not try one of our favorite offline Android games to use less data while you get your game on?
How do you manage your mobile data usage? Any other great tips to share?