Understanding Data Usage

Understanding Data Usage

Various Internet activities on your device can bolt down your allotted mobile data balance. Those include Web browsing, games, email, applications, GPS navigation, and music/video streaming. In addition, certain programs and apps will automatically check for updates and install any updates they found often times without your knowledge.

Most of the modern devices are set to download updates only on "unmetered" WiFi connections. They usually wont't take a bite off your precious data if they are connected to the Web via cellular network. However if you are using a portable Mobile Hotspot that is meant to turn your cellular connection into WiFi signal, you are running a chance of draining your data allowance because your network will no longer be recognized as cellular or "metered" by your mobile devices.

We have created a short list of Internet activities that cause rapid data consumption.

DISCLAIMER: This list is indicative only and non-exhaustive. All usage generated is responsibility of the customer so it is crucial to monitor your online activities


Automatic Download of Large iOS Updates

As title implies, this information is especially crucial to iOS users. When an iOS device is connected to WiFi and charging it sometimes downloads various system updates without your knowledge. This can be especially detrimental to those who use their Apple devices with a mobile hotspot because their data will be recognized as WiFi by their mobile device hence causing irreversible consumption of gigabytes of data. In order to prevent updates from downloading automatically you can:

  • Fill up your device with as much data as you can 
  • Make sure that your iOS device is not connected to Mobile Hotspot WiFi and plugged into a power source at the same time.

iOS WiFi Assist

This new feature was introduced in iOS9 and it is meant to improve your web surfing experience by turning on mobile data connection when your WiFi signal is too weak. In order to disable WiFi assist, go to Settings>Mobile>Scroll down through the list of apps which are permitted to use mobile data and toggle WiFi assist off. 

Automatic Background Updates

You may be running through a lot of data in vain if you have apps and services regularly  updating in the background. Most apps and services, are constantly checking for updates.

Fortunately, you can turn off background app refresh for just some or all your apps and services.

Auto-Sync and iCloud Backup

Your mobile device tries to sync all your data with your email account or remote drive. It is certainly great for things like calendar, email, and reminders, it can pump up data usage when it syncs things like photos and other heavy files.

To make sure your phone isn't continuously backing up things you don't want to back up, go to Settings and then click your account listed under accounts or iCloud. From there, click on your email address to see everything that is being synched. Toggle off anything you'd rather not sync.

Video Auto-Play

Facebook as well as many other social media outlets recently added the auto-play feature which means that when you are scrolling through your feed any video that’s been posted will automatically play in the background. It is not an ideal situation when you have a limited data credit.

Make sure to change the settings of your social media apps so that they don't steam videos automatically.  For example on Facebook App go to Settings>Facebook>Settings and scroll down to Video and switch Auto-play OFF.

Push Notifications and Email Fetching

Most of your applications are using Push Notifications service to alert you of various news and updates. You can easily stop any app from slamming you with notifications by going to Settings> Notifications and choosing the apps you don’t want to notify you.

Another "culprit" that sips your data in the background  is your email. If your phone is set to fetch data wirelessly every 15 minutes, you will quickly run out of data.

Start by establishing that Push is turned off and set your device to fetch data manually.

Background Downloads

If you use Peer to Peer file sharing software such as BitTorrents or download music and videos on ITunes you may find your data is being gobbled up.

When you connect to a cellular data network make sure to disable all Peer to Peer platforms on your mobile device or laptop.

For more information regarding the configuration and settings of your mobile device's operating system, please refer to your OS developer's website.

Learn what causes high data usage

Some of the most common Internet activities that can generate high data usage are:

  • Video conferencing (Skype, Facetime)
  • Video or Audio streaming (YouTube, Spotify)
  • Net meetings or other interactive data streaming sessions
  • Online interactive gaming
  • Movie downloads
  • Data file sharing (very large files)

Way to monitor your data usage

You can monitor your data usage in My Account (login required)