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Where did your mobile data go? Six reasons for and solutions to your dwindling data

Where oh where hath our data gone wonder? That is the question we ask ourselves at the end of every month. No need to ponder – we know not everyone has access to free or uncapped WiFi, so we’ve listed the most common ways your data says farewell, as well as our solutions to each one.

Apps that use background data
Background, what? Some apps on your smartphone that you’re not even using need data to remain updated, even if you aren’t using the app. If you go into your Settings, you’ll see every single app you have on your phone and that it is automatically set to use data (even your ‘Notes’ app uses data to sync to your iCloud account). When you’re in a WiFi zone, it won’t be a bother, but letting your data be used for this will be costly.

Solution: Manually turn off data usage for apps you don’t use often
To adjust your background data on an iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular > Apps using WLAN & Cellular. If you’re with Android, visit Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data usage. You will be able to manually deactivate data usage for every and any app you want on your phone.

Using Google Maps when traveling
Looking for a friend’s new apartment? Going on a road trip? Or even just lost in a new area? Using Google Maps uses a lot of data to be able to continuously access your location and navigate you as you travel. The app constantly sends and receive information to keep updated as you drive.

Solution: Download area maps before your travel
Google Maps on an Android phone and iPhone let you download area maps to your phone which you will be able to access offline. If you know the exact address or area you’re heading to, download the map to your phone before you leave home so that you can find your way without chowing your data. Also, the Google Maps cache on an iPhone doesn’t need a data connection to function – simply enter the location into your Apple Maps in a WiFi zone and you’re good to go!

Just one more video won’t hurt!
We’ve all been there – bored out of my minds, scrolling through Facebook or YouTube to kill time, thinking that watching these short videos couldn’t possibly do damage to your data consumption. Little do you know that videos are one of the biggest eaters of the data pie!

Solution: Use streaming channels that allow offline usage
Long gone are the days where you have to play YouTube videos in full HD to play your favourite songs. Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play Music all allow you to create playlists offline and if you have storage space on your phone, you can download songs and movies to your phone to enjoy without using data.

You could also: Turn off autoplay on Facebook
This feature may only be applicable to iOS users, but nonetheless, it is helpful. When you’re scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, videos are automatically set to start playing – even if you have no intention of watching them. On the iPhone, go to Settings > Facebook > Settings, scroll down to ‘Video’ and select ‘Autoplay on WiFi only’.

Browsing the internet on desktop version
This may sound a little obscure and obvious, but using a website’s mobile version instead of the desktop version on your smartphone actually uses less data – great for those who don’t have daily access to WiFi. Mobile versions also make it easier for you read and scroll through the information.

Luckily, mobile versions of websites are common and automatic as it can pick up that you’re accessing the site from a mobile device. For Facebook lovers, a data-friendly version of the app, called Facebook Lite, is available for Android users. It’s perfect for low-end phones and poor data connections, meaning less of your data will be used.

Automatic updates – and they’re daily
In order for you to enjoy your phone at its most, your Settings are configured to have automatic updates, meaning every single time one of your apps like Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp or your banking app has a new release, your smartphone automatically installs the new release. Don’t think this takes up data? Think twice. Automatic updates can take place daily if you have more than four or five apps on on your phone, and that doesn’t include the ones that already come with your phone.

Solution: Manually select your updates
We’ve gotta shut this down to manual, sister. For iPhone users, head to your Settings > Mobile Data and then as your scroll down, you’ll see all of the apps using data. Manually turn off each one you want. Then for Android, you’ll find the settings in the Google Play Store: Settings > Auto-Update Apps. Here you may choose to disable auto-updates completely or only allow auto-updates on WiFi connectivity.

Addicted to social media?
It’s not uncommon these days to spend just as much time on social media during your day than you would on work. In fact, as of a 2018 study conducted by the Pew Research Centre, 40 percent of social media users say it would be difficult for them to give it up with an additional 14 percent saying it would be extremely hard. The average person will also spent five years and four months just chilling on social media. If you think you’re heading in this direction, it’s time for an intervention.

Solution: Set yourself daily limits
Yes, there are apps to help you limit your data usage and therefore your time on social media, but come on – let’s be adults about this. Give yourself 15 minutes in the morning to scroll through your social media apps and then another 15 minutes in the evening after dinner. Another tip: Don’t look through your phone while you’re lying in bed waiting to get tired watching videos of how cats are better than dogs.

A general tip we’d like to share with you is to, once a week, enter a free WiFi area where you can do all of your app updates and social media meandering. This way, you’ll still be able to enjoy your smartphone without killing your data.

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