Devices like your cellphone or GPS can generate an automatic firmware update which can consume substantial data. An iPhone firmware update is typically 666MB.
Tip: Check which devices you plug into your computer may trigger automatic updates and ensure only the ones you want are activated. Often these updates fix problems which might not be relevant and you could rather wait for more updates to follow.
4. Configure in-app data settings
Many apps allow you to change how they consume data. You can turn off notifications for specific apps and only activate certain app features when you need them. For example, Google Maps requires access to your current location and uses data to constantly know where you are, so disable the Location/GPS setting if you don’t need it. Your email app will also allow you to choose whether to download headers or the whole email, and whether to automatically download attachments or not.
Tip: Many Android and Apple phones back up photos and videos as they're captured. Visit ‘App settings’ and disable options you don't need.
5. Stop videos from autoplaying
Facebook’s autoplaying video feature automatically starts playing videos when you’re browsing through them. Disable this feature in the Settings menu to prevent it from quickly eating up your mobile data.
• Android tip: Open the Facebook app and go into the Settings menu. Select ‘Videos play automatically’ and choose ‘Off’.
• Apple iOS tip: Open the Facebook app and enter the Settings menu. Select ‘Account Settings’ > ‘Videos and Photos’ > ‘Autoplay’ (under Video Settings section). Select ‘Never Autoplay Videos’.
6. Disable widgets you aren’t using
Even apps which don't allow you to fine-tune data settings could still be loading background data. "Background" reflects the data used when the app is running processes in the background. If an app is using too much background data, you can ‘Restrict background data’ on your device but note that you will only be able to receive notifications from apps like WhatsApp and Facebook when you open them.
• Android tip: Find out which apps use the most data by going to ‘Settings’ > ‘Data Usage’.
• Apple iOS tip: To see how much data an individual app is using, go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Cellular’ > ‘Use Mobile Data For’.
7. Disable widgets you aren’t using
You will often see adverts on websites and even in your free apps. These ads can be annoying, and what’s more annoying is that they use up data to load and watch.
Android tip: Check out a couple of ad-blocking web browsers for Chrome and Firefox.
8. Block ads
You’ll often see adverts on websites and even in your free apps. These ads can be annoying, and what’s more annoying is that they use up data to load and watch.
Android tip: Check out a couple of ad-blocking web browsers for Chrome and Firefox.
9. Switch off Personal Hotspot
Your tablet or cellphone can connect to our network using 3G or LTE, and in turn broadcasts that connection over WiFi so that other devices can share the same Internet connection.
Tip: Only turn this setting on when you’re using Personal Hotspot to ensure that another device does not connect to your phone and start using your data without you knowing. Remember to set a WiFi password too. If you’re using your phone or a Vodacom data modem as a WiFi hotspot, please remember that all devices connecting to it may use the data on this device to update their own apps and software or sync files.
10. Adjust Peer-to-Peer networks’ settings
Downloading and uploading files from P2P networks such as KaZa and Morpheus or news servers like Giganews may offer you easy access to music or video clips but can create significant usage. Every time you use these file-sharing programs to provide another Internet user with a file, it counts as usage, and when sharing files from your PC to people all over the world, usage can add up in a very short time.
Tip: Check and adjust the upload and download quantity settings of the application. Leaving the default setting as maximum can expose you to large amounts of monthly usage and slow your PC. Avoid leaving the program running when you’re not actively using it, and make sure you close it down properly each time.
11. Do large downloads over WiFi
Downloading songs, games, programs, software and other files to your hard drive adds up surprisingly fast so check the file size before you download it. Software can also contain hidden viruses or be written to change your computer settings.
Tip: If you need to download large files or update lots of apps but you’re low on data, it would be better to do this via a WiFi network. Check if WiFi on your device is turned on and enter the password to access the network.
12. Stream low definition video/audio
Streaming is when you view video or listen to audio (like web-based radio stations or clips on YouTube) which uses a continuous flow of large quantities of data. The average amount of usage is usually between 100 - 300Kb per second or 360MB
• 1.08GB per hour!
Using a web camera also involves high volume streams. Data is not saved to your PC and once viewed, it’s automatically “dumped. To watch the same file again the next day, you’ll have to download the same amount of data and incur the same amount of usage again.
Tip: Make sure you turn streaming off and close down the file or program when your computer isn’t being used. Also, don’t select the highest definition clip when you watch a movie or clip online.
13. Check email attachment sizes
Each time you send or receive an email, you’re accumulating usage. Generally, emails are so small that they don’t have much impact on your total data usage, but if you send or receive large attachments (Word and PowerPoint documents, software or images), your usage will increase noticeably.
Tip: Always check the size of your email attachments before you send or open them, and never open attachments from unknown sources. Need to send emails with large attachments? Consider using file compression software.
14. Track news groups & chat usage
News groups and chat clients are often used as communication tools online (MSN Messenger, Skype). If videos, pictures, audio clips and other software is being sent to members or even viewed online, the rich graphics and data can lead to higher-than-expected usage. Using automated download programs (IRC bots) on news group sites can also lead to high data usage.
Tip: Always be wary of news or chat sites that automatically send you large attachments. Check the size of attachments before you download them. Also track your usage frequently and decide if a cheaper voice call will do instead
15. Monitor multiple users
Are there multiple people using your Internet connection? It’s possible that one person could be racking up a lot of usage if they’re downloading large files or suspicious programs which transmit viruses. This can easily happen with a WiFi router where many people share the same 3G connection.
Tip: Monitor other people’s data usage and what they’re using it for. For example, your kids could be downloading music or videos and creating excessive usage on your Internet account. Ensure that you have strong security measures enabled on your WiFi router. While your neighbour will love you for the “free internet¿ supply, you’ll end up with a high bill!
16. Track online gaming transfer rates
Interactive games (Counter-Strike, Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament) have data transfer rates of between 10MB and 60MB per hour. Even downloading games software can increase your usage levels.
If you’re playing games online, keep track of the data transfer amount and check your usage frequently.
17. Use download managers
Download managers and leeching software (FlashGet, Unreal Download, GetRight, Go! Zilla, iGetter, NeVampire.Com) can make downloading convenient and easy.
Tip: Be familiar with the program before downloading and using it, and know how it can impact your monthly usage. Read the product overview and check the site's help section for more information.
1. Manage Siri – your intelligent voice assistant
This cheeky – but very obedient – character is built into iOS. While Siri can be convenient and even quite fun, she uses data to perform tasks and answer your questions.
To de-activate Siri:
Go to ‘Settings’, select ‘General’, scroll down and select ‘Siri’. Use the toggle switch to activate or de-activate Siri. When Siri is turned off you can still use basic voice-activated functions which won’t use data.
2. Disable the push-email function
Your iPad or iPhone uses data to automatically connect to the Internet, check for new emails and deliver them to you. By disabling push, you’ll still be able to receive emails on your device but you’ll have to manually request to check for new emails in the Mail app itself.
To turn the push-email functionality off:
Go to ‘Settings’, scroll down and select ‘Mail, Contacts and Calendar’, select ‘Fetch New Data’, turn the toggle switch for ‘Push’ off at the top of the screen, scroll down and select ‘Manual’ at the bottom of the screen.
3. Control downloads from App and iTunes Stores
If your Apple devices share the same iTunes account, set up your devices to prevent apps from using mobile data to auto-download them across other devices. This ensures that your devices will only download apps, music and updates over a WiFi connection when available and prevent unnecessary mobile data usage.
To turn mobile data off for App and iTunes Stores:
Go to ‘Settings’, scroll down and select ‘App and iTunes Stores’. Use the toggle switch to turn off “Use Mobile Data”.