If you use your phone not only for making calls and texting, but also for writing e-mails, surfing social networks, streaming media, and so on, then you, probably, know the price of each precious megabyte of data. In case you are tired of being shocked by the bill every month, here are some tips and tricks on how to prevent your smartphone from eating data you don’t need. These elementary steps won't make the phone usage much more complicated, however, they will surely save you some dollars.
Use Wi-Fi wherever possible
This piece of advice may sound obvious, but sometimes we neglect it. Set the phone to switch automatically between using the cellular data and the wireless connection. If you really want to watch the new YouTube video, or download a couple of songs, wait till you find a spot with free WiFi - at home, in the office, cafeteria, airport lounge, etc.
Monitor your data
In general, it is always good to know your limits. In case of smartphones, the rule 'forewarned is forearmed' also works: if you know how much data you've already used, it is easier to make further plans. You can always access all the needed information on your carrier’s website; some pages like att.com allow making rough estimates of your monthly activities. If it is not possible for you to keep tabs on data usage regularly, you can set alarms that will notify you if you are too close to go over your allowance. For this purpose, you can use the app My Data Manager (Android, iOS) or add the Data Sense Live Tile to your start screen in case you have a Windows Phone.
Preload data and don't clear cache
There are both pros and cons of leaving preloaded data and browsers cache intact on your phone. Of course, the phone runs smoother if the memory is clean but, on the other hand, if there is data ready for use, phone browsers do not need to fetch it again from the web servers. Next time, take it into account before allowing your cleaning application to erase all the cache. Moreover, how about saving media or maps for the future use? For example, if you plan to visit a new city/region/country within the next few weeks, fire up Google maps and create the corresponding offline map. That will help you a lot especially if you are roaming or if there is no connection at all. The same is for streaming videos – preload them at home and enjoy later on-the-go without worrying about the mobile Internet devouring your money.
Turn off push notifications and limit background data
If you don't need to be constantly informed about new incoming e-mails or, say, Facebook friends requests, turn off push notifications. You can always check all the selected events later when you really need it. What's more important, there are always several pre-installed apps which we don't use, so why won't we at least forbid their automatic updates? Set them do it manually so that they will grab the updates only when you actually open the app, or at least when you have access to a Wi-Fi network.
Use mobile versions of webpages and change the browser
The majority of the popular websites now offer both a desktop and mobile versions. Maybe a page loses a part of its functionality when being displayed in its mobile version, however, this way you won't end up using a surprising amount of data: such versions use less traffic and open faster. These simplified versions are usually loaded automatically, but, if they don't, you can usually find the switch link at the top or at the bottom of the page.
I would also recommend you use Opera Mini instead of the standard pre-installed browsers. Its server-side compression feature helps noticeably reduce your data usage when browsing. If you can sacrifice photos and pictures, there are browsers which will strip out the images and only display the text of the page you are looking. The good choices are TextOnly Browser (Android), Text Browser (iOS) or UC Browser for Windows phones with the same feature.
Block the ads
The advertisements in the applications don't only annoy us (especially when we accidentally tap on them), but also require connection and, consequently, our money. So if you are an adherent of the certain app, my advice is: steel yourself and buy a full ad-free version. That will save your money and nerves!