HomeBlog8 Simple Tips for Using Less Data on Your Phone

8 Simple Tips for Using Less Data on Your Phone

July-6th-2022

SUMMARY: Constantly running out of cell phone data? Follow these 8 simple tips to cut back on your data usage and lower your phone bill.

Americans love using their phones. In fact, the average American spends a little more than 5 hours per day on their phone and uses 10GB of data per month, scrolling through social media, checking their email, or streaming music and TV. But with most data plans capped around 4 or 5 GB per month, many people struggle with keeping their data usage (and phone bill) in check. Here are 8 tips you can use for conserving your cell phone data, so you never have to worry about running out.

Infographic: How to Use Less Data on your Phone

1. Check your data usage

First things first, it’s important to check how much data you have in a single billing cycle, how much you’re using, and which apps are draining the bulk of it. From there, you can try to cut back accordingly and even turn on parental controls on your most overused apps, if necessary. To check your data usage, navigate to your settings, then click Cellular for iPhones or Data Usage for Androids.

2. Use WiFi whenever possible

The easiest way to use less data on your phone is to use it as little as possible. Connect to WiFi whenever and wherever you can, whether you’re at home, work, or even the airport. You may notice that in some public places, like the airport for example, you have to accept terms and conditions to sign in to their WiFi. The good thing is once you’ve done that, you’ll be automatically connected going forward.

3. Disable background app refresh

You may not even know it, but your apps are always working in the background, eating away at your precious data. Make sure to cancel out of your apps whenever you’re done with them. You can also turn off background app refresh to reduce your data usage. On iPhones, navigate to your Settings to disable Background App Refresh; on Androids, navigate to Settings, then Data Usage, and toggle Allow Background Data Usage off.

4. Fetch mail less often

One sneaky way your phone may be zapping away data is through your email app. Every time your phone receives an email, you use data. To fix this, make sure your email’s Push functionality is turned off. This will ensure new emails aren’t constantly being pushed out to you from the server. Instead, you’ll want to turn on Fetch. This way the app will only check for and “fetch” new emails whenever you open the app.

5. Download media while on WiFi

Did you know that streaming an hour of TV can take up to 3GB of data? If you’re not on WiFi, this can devour a huge portion of your data plan. A quick and easy way to fix this is to download your media—whether it be movies, TV shows, music, or podcasts—in advance while you’re still on WiFi. That way, once you’re in an area with slow data speeds, it will all be locally stored and available for your consumption.

6. Deactivate WiFi Assist

When you’re on a weak WiFi connection, WiFi Assist will tap into your cellular data to boost that connection and offer faster loading speeds. Most of the time, you won’t even know you’re using WiFi Assist—that is, until you realize all your data is gone. Disabling WiFi Assist might cause a slower connection, but it can drastically help reduce your data usage, especially if you’re on a capped data plan or an international travel plan. Simply navigate to your cellular settings and follow the prompts to turn off WiFi Assist.

7. Set data limits and alerts

If you need additional assistance cutting back on data usage, it may help to set data limits or alerts. On Androids, you can do this by going to your Data Usage menu in your settings. iPhones do not yet have this functionality, but there is a Low Data Mode option that can be used to reduce your data consumption and quiet any background apps. It might sound counterintuitive, but it may also help to download a third-party app to help track your data usage. These apps—including Data Usage or DataMan—will help you see just how much data you’ve used and alert you when you’re running low.

8. Upgrade your data plan

If you’ve tried steps 1-7 but just keep running out of data no matter what you do, it might be time to upgrade your data plan. Or, if you’re mainly using your phone while connected to your home’s WiFi, make sure you have a home internet plan that can keep up. EarthLink offers speeds up to 5 Gigs, prices starting at $59.95, and coverage for 96% of the U.S. Find your fiber internet plan today!

Tess Hansen

Tess Hansen

Tess Hansen is a copywriter based in Brooklyn. She writes about all things digital for EarthLink, with a focus on using tech and high-speed internet to make your life easier and safer.

See all posts from Tess Hansen.