This week, I'm going to talk about how to reduce the amount of data that you use on your mobile devices. This question was brought to me by a listener who has a hard time staying within her 2GB data plan from her cell phone provider, and wants to know what things she can do to limit how much data she uses.
How can you reduce your mobile data usage?
First, let's talk about what data usage looks like in your day-to-day life. When you're connected to WiFi, whether at work or home, you aren't using cell data. This means if you're on your phone with WiFi on, all the data you use goes through your home router and not through a cell tower.
When you're out and about, though, and not connected to WiFi, your phone will use cell towers in order to get access to the internet. This type of data is metered and this is how you are charged on your phone plan.
Connecting to WiFi outside of your house, say at a Starbucks, doesn't use data, but does subject your device to an unsecured wireless hotspot.
So, what that boils down to is if you are on WiFi, you aren't using data; if you're not on WiFi, you are using data through a cell tower, which is what is reflected in your bill.
The question is how can you reduce what is actually reflected on your bill?
There are a few simple things you can do to to easily cut your usage. The first is cutting out HD video when you're not on WiFi. One of the greatest uses of data is video, so cutting down on Netflix, YouTube, and any other video streaming will greatly reduce the data you use. For example, an hour of streaming video can actually use half a gigabyte of data. A couple of minutes of YouTube could easily rack up 100 mb of data!
So, if you’re going out of town and want to watch some movies or videos, it might be worth it to download them to your device ahead of time. This can be done easily if you put the movie in iTunes (if you have an iPhone), or to an SD card, or through a USB cable if you have an Android phone.