How to Reduce Your Mobile Data Usage Without Feeling Restricted

How to Lower Your Mobile Data

The ability to access music, movies, email, and Facebook in any location is the best thing about modern mobile technology. But if you use a large amount of mobile data each month, wireless companies can still charge a lot of money for that usage.

If you're anything like the average user, you need to keep your monthly bills down, but you don't want to give up your ability to access your mobile data on-the-go. Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can lower your mobile data (and consequently your mobile data plan) each month without feeling constrained.

1. Be Careful With Streaming

If you like to stream music, YouTube, Netflix, etc., while you're away from WiFi, you'll have to be careful. Streaming can eat at your data big time, but there are some things you can do to minimize the amount of data you use while streaming.

If you use any kind of music streaming app, check to see if there is an offline or download only mode. For instance, Google Play has a downloaded only mode that only plays music you've already added to your library, which the app automatically downloads for you when you're on WiFi. This allows you to play all of your favorite playlists without having to stream on your data plan.

If you still need to stream something, see if the app allows you to select lower quality media to stream while you're on mobile networks.

2. Auto-Update Apps on WiFi Only

Another thing that can be taxing on your mobile data usage is apps auto-updating from the Google Play store. In order to keep app updates from happening while you're on data, change your settings to allow auto-updates only on WiFi.

In order to change this setting, go to the home screen of the Google Play store app and click on Settings in the upper left hand corner. Then click on Auto-Update Apps and select Auto-update apps over WiFi only.

How to Reduce Your Mobile Data Usage Without Feeling Restricted

3. Restrict Background Apps on Data

With any app you download, it's a good idea to monitor it to see if it's using too much data. You can see how much data each app is using when you go into Settings > Data Usage on your phone.

If you have a few apps that are using too much data (and you don't need them to run in the background when you're not on WiFi), you can restrict individual apps from running in the background on data.

You may also opt to restrict all apps from running in the background when you're not on WiFi.

4. Monitor Your Data Usage

Data overages can get expensive. In order to avoid accruing a hefty fee for going over your data limit, set mobile data usage alerts. Most mobile providers offer texting alerts in addition to warnings that you can get using your phone's settings.

This gives you enough warning to alter your data usage for the remainder of the billing cycle, or to increase your data plan if needed. It's often cheaper to increase your data plan for the current month than to pay an overage fee.

You can also set your phone to limit your mobile data usage to a certain amount, so that you don't go over. To set alerts for your data usage and limit your mobile data to a certain amount, go to Settings > Data Usage in your phone's general settings.

How to Reduce Your Mobile Data Usage Without Feeling Restricted

5. Connect to Free WiFi

Being connected to WiFi when you're away from home will drastically decrease your data usage, so make it habit to check for free WiFi wherever you go.

Most places of business have free WiFi open to the public, such as restaurants, coffee shops, museums, and more. Most places allow you to connect as long as you agree to their terms of service. Some places may require you to ask for a short password or will have their WiFi password posted in prominent places for customers.

If you're at a friend or family members house, ask for the WiFi password.


Was this article helpful to you? What things have you tried to reduce your mobile data usage? Let us know in the comments!

Vanessa Pruitt, PLMHP, MS