Five tips for taking control of your mobile data use
Andrew Moore-Crispin • March 1, 2013
When you pay for what you use it pays to use less.
Ting customers already know that by taking a few simple steps to conserve, you can save big on your monthly mobile bill. I’m duty bound to point out that, even without taking these steps, Ting would save 98% of mobile users money.
Following are five easy to implement tips to save money on mobile data.
1. Wi-Fi whenever you can
87.64%* of data use on a mobile device happens at home or in the office for 93.23%** of people. Unless you’re a real road warrior; a travelling salesperson or perhaps a cab driver, you’re likely in range of a mobile hotspot when you’re working. At home, you probably already have a Wi-Fi network set up.
Smartphones give preference to Wi-Fi when you’re in range of a known network; rather than using mobile data, your phone will automatically opt for a known Wi-Fi hotspot instead.
*I totally made that up.
**That one too.
2. Get a data use monitor
A data monitor app on your smartphone lets you keep tabs on your data use as well as which apps are using what amount of mobile data.
Some of these apps, like our favorite Onavo Count, also let you restrict certain applications to Wi-Fi only. This is the ideal way to still have mobile access for things like email but to block apps like YouTube from chewing through mobile data.
In Onavo Count, it’s easy to see which of your apps and services use the most mobile data. You can set a data threshold for the month and be alerted on your device when you near that number. As you use your phone, the app keeps a running tally and lets you pin down usage patterns. With this data, you can adjust your mobile data use habits if need be.
3. Do more with the data you do use
Onavo Extend sets up a virtual private network (VPN) connection which acts as a proxy for all your unencrypted data. Rather than immediately downloading to your device, sites you visit, pictures you download, videos you watch, etc. are sent instead to Onavo’s servers. The data is compressed (pictures sized down, for example) and then sent to you. The result is a significant savings when you’re using mobile data.
Onavo Extend can also reserve a portion of your SD card or on-board storage for browser cache resulting in faster page loads and less mobile data use.
If you’re (understandably) concerned about privacy, that’s addressed in the Onavo Extend FAQ.
For the record, no, we don’t have an affiliate relationship with Onavo… but thinking about it now, perhaps we should!
4. Understand mobile data and what it means
You buy data in megabytes or in gigabytes… but what do those really mean? How many web pages can you surf with a megabyte? How many emails in a gig?
Understanding what mobile data quantities actually mean in real world terms puts you in good stead to understand and control your usage. We’ve got an article here on the Ting blog that tries to break down what “megs” and “gigs” actually translate to in the real world. Give it a read!
5. Set an alert or a hard cap in your Ting dashboard
In your Ting dashboard, you can set usage alerts or even a hard cap: When little Billy’s usage is around 200MB for the month, send yourself an alert. You can even cut data off on his phone when he reaches that threshold then reinstate it when the new billing cycle starts.
We’ve even heard of parents doling out mobile data or text messages like they’re allowance: Take out the trash and your text message cap goes up by 500. Mow the lawn and you get 100MB of mobile data for the month. Sounds a little bit like an administrative headache but it’s pretty smart!
Here’s a video from the Ting help and support site detailing how to set an alert or a hard cap:
How do you curtail mobile data use? Is one person in your family a data hog? Let us know in the comments below!