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Geek Girl Report: Dialing Back Your Data Use – Tips and Tricks On How To Reduce Data Usage on Your Smartphone

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Streaming videos, E-mail, web surfing, playing games, there’s pretty much nothing our smartphones can’t do these days. But some people seem to forget that all those fun things cost you data, and that if you go over your phone plan’s data limit, it can cost you a LOT of money. Thankfully, there’s a few measures you can take to cut back your data intake without having to sacrifice the features you enjoy. Here’s a few tips on how you can cut back on your data usage.

1.) Track your Data Usage

There’s no need to pay for a 5 GB data plan if you’re using less that 2 GBs of data. And likewise, it you have a 2 GB plan and go over it on a regular basis, you could find yourself hit with some heavy fines. So the first thing you should do is monitor your data usage. I recommending downloading one of these two apps to help you keep tabs on your data use. For Android users, MyDataManager tracks your data usage in real time, shows you exactly how much data your apps use up, and will even let you set “data threshold alert” which notify you when you go past a certain amount of data. For iPhone users, DataMan will also track your data use and let you set threshold alerts, although this app won’t give you details on which apps are using the most data.

2.) Use WiFi whenever possible

This may seem like an obvious fix, but there are plenty of smartphone users who don’t use WiFi and instead use their cellular data to stream videos, check E-mail, play games, and do pretty much all the things they can do on a WiFi connection. But not only is WiFi faster than most cellular data networks, it also does not count towards your plan’s data usage. So the solution here is simple: use WiFi as often as possible. (as long as it’s a secure connection, anyway…)

3.) Save data-heavy apps for Wi-Fi only

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. Streaming videos, along with downloading apps, push E-mails, GPS and the like, can all eat up massive amounts of data and can easily push you over your data limit if you’re not careful. The best solution is to save your Netflix for when you’re on a WiFi connection.Same goes for downloading new apps, checking E-mail and even playing games

And while we’re talking about games, it may interest you to know that the “free” versions of some popular games like Angry Birds and Words with Friends can also eat up your data. The “free” versions are ad-sponsored, and as such, they have to use the data connection to get on your smartphone. If you have a free version of a game, it may be worth the extra few bucks to buy the full version and save a bit more data.

4.) Turn off any apps you’re not using

Remember, pressing the Home button while you’re using an app doesn’t close the app completely. You can still have the app running in the background of your phone, and eating up data even if the app isn’t open. Make sure you close out your app completely if you’re not using it, particularly with apps like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other apps that retrieve content on a regular basis like stock quotes and sports scores. Not only will this save you some data, it will also save you some battery life as well.

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