In the last year, it’s become easier to access all your media from anywhere via iCloud, Amazon Cloud player, and the newly renamed Google Play. These conveniences come with the challenge of managing data usage. The first month iCloud came online, my data usage shot through the roof. How do I keep my data usage under control so that I don’t experience a high bill or risk some kind of data usage throttle? Here are three tips that can help:
1. Identify the Apps that Hog Data
Obviously, apps that stream data are most likely to use more data. PC World recently ran a helpful piece identifying the “worst offenders.”
Video – Netflix streaming is a big data hog. So be careful. Streaming a two hour film via 3G or 4G LTE has the potential to max out a 5GB per month data plan. YouTube is not as bad as Netflix but it can also drain data. When you’re not on WiFi, you may want to set YouTube videos to play SD instead of HD.
Music – Streaming music can easily exhaust your data plan. Listening to Pandora an hour a day averages about 1.73 GB per month, and listening to Spotify for an hour per day averages about 2 GB per month.
Games – Based on game play, graphics, and multiplayer modes, games can become major data drains. Note: Lifehacker recently reported that mobile gaming apps with ads drain your battery.
Video chat – PC World suggests that when it comes to video chat, Skype may actually be a more efficient option than Google+ Hangouts.
Social Media – Usage on social media engines is not nearly as dramatic. But constant uploading and downloading of media files can easily begin to drive up your data usage.
2. Track Data Usage
One way zeroing in on data usage is by tracking it. Verizon offers a data monitoring widget, so that you can track data usage from your home screen. There are also some helpful data management software apps.
Android – Two great Android apps worth considering include My Data Manager and Onavo. My Data Manager tracks usage over by and by specific apps. It can also help you reduce battery drain. Onavo delivers usage notifications while also connecting you to a larger Android community for data-saving tips.
iOS – Onavo and Data Usage are worth considering for the iPhone or iPad. On the iOS platform, Onavo works in the background reducing data consumption. It compresses data usage from all your apps. One note: Some reviewers suggest that the current version of Onavo conflicts with the Facebook app. Data Usage tracks allows you to set daily, weekly and monthly data limits while also provide visual monitoring and predictive data usage analysis.
3. Adjust Phone Settings
Another option for controlling data use is to alter your phone settings. You can turn off the auto update options and choose to update your phone manually, then you can choose to update when you on WiFi. You could also turn off all auto update functions like email, file synchronization software (box.net, DropBox, iDisk, or SugarSync). And you should also remember turn off remote connections when not in use (like LogMeIn, GotoMyPC, Timbuktu and even Virtual Private Networks/VPNs).