Cellphone tips: Put your data on a diet, and save

From the Citizens Utility Board

Whenever you send email, stream video, visit social media, download photos, or view a Web page, your phone is sending or receiving data – measured in gigabytes (GB) – and the costs can add up quickly. Follow CUB’s tips to put your data on a diet.

Use Wi-Fi.

If you’re using Wi-Fi for your Internet use, every byte of data runs through that network – and not your phone’s data plan. To make sure you’re using Wi-Fi, temporarily turn off cellular data in your phone’s settings. (Be sure if you’re using public Wi-Fi that it is a secure connection that requires a password or login from the host.)

Stream less.

Streaming video and music eat up a ton of data. Streaming in high-definition is even worse. Just one hour of HD streaming can eat through two GB of data. That’s the equivalent of sending 100,000 emails, or viewing 2,000 Web pages. Unfortunately, certain sites automatically play videos without you clicking on them. Try to turn off the automatic streaming option in your settings, if possible.

Set data alerts and limits.

Under your phone’s settings, you can set limits on how much data you use and enable alerts for when you are nearing your limit.

Avoid unnecessary apps.

Beware of data-devouring apps or features that may continue to run in the background long after you need them. Only use necessary apps and properly close them when you are finished. Also, update apps only when using Wi-Fi. Many apps also have the option to “restrict background data,” which reduces the amount of background data an app is crunching.

Stop “push notifications.”

Many apps regularly feature “pushed” content for which you receive frequent notifications, such as stock quotes, weather updates, or sports scores. If you use such apps, try to turn off “push notifications” in your settings.

Visit mobile sites.

Make sure you are on the mobile version for a website, which streams less data. Mobile version of websites will have an “m” in front of the web address (for example, m.facebook.com).

Download a light or text-only Internet browser.

For basic web browsing, browsers like Opera Mini or TextOnly compress data and can reduce data usage.

Turn off GPS.

Apps that run in the background may access GPS to track your location, generate advertisements, and download maps. That takes up a lot of data. (One drawback to turning off GPS: your phone will be more difficult to track down if it’s lost or stolen.)

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