It’s happened to everyone: that sinking feeling you get when you realise you weren’t connected to a Wi-Fi network when that automatic update has finished downloading.
To avoid this happening again, start by disabling the automatic syncs and software updates that most phones are routinely set to.
Check your settings
In an article penned for Vodacom, Jacqui Lund suggests that you manually download updates or choose the option to automatically update only when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.
“Configure your email settings so you don’t automatically download attachments. Then turn off App notifications and automatic updates,” she says.
If you don’t do this, chances are your phone will automatically go online every few minutes to search for new emails or scan your social media platforms for new notifications, which further chows data – sometimes without your knowledge.
To disable syncs and updates on an Android phone, go to Settings, then Connections and Data Usage. From there, you’ll be able to see which applications use the most data. Click on them and activate Restrict Background Data.
For iPhones, go to Settings, Cellular, Cellular Data Usage.
It’s also important to remember that while updates are important, not every update needs to be done immediately.
Use data-saving browsers
Maria Pienaar, chief information officer for Cell C, says another way to save data is to switch to mobile-friendly browsers such as Opera and Chrome that can be set to compress web pages, which can save you between 50% to 85% in data.
“Computers have very different data expectations to smartphones and tablets,” she says. “Mobile services are designed to use as little data as possible, but a PC or laptop rarely has that in mind. So avoid treating them as the same.”
“The browsers that come with phones and tablets are very good,” Pienaar adds. “But a few third-party apps specialise in faster browsing while using less data. If someone’s browsing habits are destroying their data, they should try one of those [apps].”
Delete apps you don’t use
You might not be aware that apps often load in the background, even when they aren’t being used or haven’t been opened. These apps not only drain your phone’s battery but also eat away at your data and should be therefore deleted.
Pienaar says it’s also advisable to look into web versions of apps such as Facebook and Twitter, which have decent mobile browser versions that don’t run continuously in the background.
Don’t allow videos to autoplay
Videos use up a significant amount of data. Look out for apps that have the option to prevent videos from autoplaying.
“More South Africans are streaming videos these days, but it’s very data intensive, so make sure video files on a page or a feed aren’t chewing up data. They can use a lot in a very short period of time,” says Pienaar.
Turn your mobile data off when you’re not using it
Darryl Linington, IT News Africa’s online editor, says you should switch your data off when it’s not in use as that ensures that data isn’t used up unnecessarily.
“As your device is constantly sending data back and forth, it’s advisable to switch off data at the point where the user goes to sleep,” he says.
“Alternatively, during times of minimal use, be sure to connect to an uncapped wireless network. This prevents usage that will be charged to your mobile account.”
You should also consider buying data bundles instead of going out-of-bundle as it’s a substantially cheaper option.