Let's be honest, no one likes to be without the many features on their smart phone. The great positive of having a smart phone is the ability to utilize those features wherever you go. However, the cellular data that is necessary for that ability can be pretty pricey, particular for those on tight budgets. Carrier bills can skyrocket from data use, and the carrier is unable to tell you exactly what has been wasting all your data, only telling you which phone on your plan is using it. Puzzling out where all that data is going to each month and figuring out how to stop it can be irksome and time consuming, particularly if you've never done it before. This article will go over general apps and programs that commonly use an overabundance of data, and then go into more specific troubleshooting for your personal iPhone.
Find Out if Your iPhone is Using Data
First things first, you'll need to actually be able to identify when your iPhone is using up your precious cellular data. As one will probably guess, when connected to Wi-Fi your iPhone will not use mobile data. Therefore, an internet connection allows you to utilize all the features of your iPhone without any data penalty. Your iPhone will show a small radio signal at the top left hand corner of the screen when it is connected to Wi-Fi. When not connected the internet, the screen will show LTE, 4G, or 3G, in that same spot, next to the name of your carrier. This indicates that your iPhone is using data.
How to Use Less Data on Your iPhone:
Wi-Fi is essential if you want to save data. A frugal data user will constantly be checked for available Wi-Fi networks. This is easier than one might think, as a number of businesses and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi for their customers nowadays. Your iPhone helps you here, as once you connect to a Wi-Fi network once, it will be remembered by your iPhone and your iPhone will connect to it automatically whenever it is in range. If you want to save data, be sure to always use a Wi-Fi connection as often as you can.
Cut Down on Videos and Music
While a great number of apps and programs use data, there are fewer greater usurpers of your mobile data than the streaming of music and videos. Therefore it is essential for one looking to save data to be sure not to watch an overabundance of videos on streaming apps such as Youtube or Netflix when outside of Wi-Fi. It may be hard to believe, but one video from your favorite YouTuber or one episode of Orange is the New Black can quickly sap all of your available data. Music, too, can use a fair amount of data, but this amount is still significantly less than videos. So while you'll want to keep an eye on how much you use Spotify or Apple Music, it is not nearly as dangerous as video streaming.
A good way to be sure not to use a large amount of data on video is to download videos to your iPhone while connected to Wi-Fi. This allows you to bring your entertainment with you on long trips and such. It can be well worth dropping five dollars on a movie rental on iTunes if it saves you those gigabytes of data. Also, Netflix has recently added the ability to download a certain amount of a number of episodes and videos from their vast entertainment library. If you find yourself stranded on vacation without Wi-Fi, remember that most coffee shops and fast-food joints offer free Wi-Fi where you can download as much entertainment as your iPhone can hold.
Limit Background App Usage
It's easy to forget that apps remain open after you press the Home button on your iPhone to leave the app. This, while sometimes harmless, can prove detrimental not only to your data usage, but also your battery life. Many apps continue to send and receive data until they are closed out of manually. To do this, simply double tap the Home button and swipe up on all your open apps. It is good practice to get in the habit of doing this once or twice a day.
Data Still a Problem?
Maybe you've heard these tips before and you're looking for a more specific solution to your data problems. If this is the case, read on. This article will move on to work through how to identify which app is using too much data and how to solve that problem. Remember, most excess data use from apps is a result of some kind of issue with an upload or download. Often, an app might be struggling to send a file and its constant attempts to send said file will rack up the data usage all day long until the file is finally sent.
Identifying the Problem App
So, without further ado, let's get into the nitty gritty of figuring out where all your data is going. Since iOS 7, Apple has made this task much simpler by giving you the perfect tool to complete it. In your Settings app, tap Cellular. In this tab, there is a plentiful amount of information that will allow you to identify your data greedy app.
One thing to notice is an option to shut down the use of mobile data completely. This can be helpful if you're looking to take no risks of overusing data and spiking your phone bill. This is also something to utilize if you've reached your data limit for the month. After this option comes a switch that reads Enable LTE. LTE is essentially higher quality data, greatly speeding the rate at which content loads on data. However, it is important to remember that LTE burns through data a lot faster as well. Switching this off can be helpful for conserving data if perhaps you're not quite at the point of taking the nuclear option to shut off data entirely. However, if there is a larger problem, disabling LTE will most likely not solve it.
Finally, scrolling down further will reveal a section labeled Cellular Data Usage. One thing important to note is the actual meaning of the number listed here. This number, labeled 'Current Period,' does not necessarily refer to your data use in your specific billing period. This number displays the amount of data used since the last reset of data usage statistics. If you've never reset your statistics, this number could indicate how much data you've used since your iPhone was activated. Be sure not to reset your statistics right now, as this could erase information essential for diagnosing your data problem. If you don't know how to reset your statistics and would like to, this will be explained later on.
After the Cellular Data Usage number, you'll find a long list of applications. These are the apps you have installed on your iPhone, and next to them you'll see a number which indicates the amount of data each one has used in your current data usage period.
As you scroll through this list, keep an eye out for any big numbers. You should expect to see large numbers next to video and music apps, as well as some games, particularly if you use those sorts of apps often. These numbers are labeled KB, MB, or GB. For the less tech-savvy users, it is important to break down these labels. KB indicates kilobytes. This is the smallest value, as there are 1000 kilobytes to a megabyte. Apps that only use kilobytes aren't a problem. MB indicates megabytes. Since there are 1000 megabytes to a gigabyte, these are not necessarily a problem, but can add up quickly so it is important to keep an eye on them. To put it in perspective, a 2GB data plan gives you 2000MB. Finally, GB stands for gigabytes. These are the big ones, as most data plans only give you two to four gigabytes. Any app using gigabytes is something to be wary of, but again, remember that if you haven't ever reset your statistics, an app could easily have accrued a gigabyte or two without being a real problem, particularly if you've had your current iPhone for a long time.
Very last on your list of apps will be one that reads 'System Services.' This is important to tap on to check how much certain common apps, particularly Messages, are using. If you see a large amount of data being used by Messages, try to only send things like pictures and videos when on Wi-Fi.
Now, if, as you scroll this list, you spot any apps that are using a few GB of data, you've identified your problem app. A music or video app, or even a large mobile game, makes sense, and you'll likely solve your problem by simply easing off the data usage for that app. An app that doesn't fall under those qualifications, however, might indicate a bigger problem than your own personal deliberate data usage.
Most likely, this app crashed at one point and got stuck sending or receiving data. Again, try closing this app as suggested above. Open it again and your problem might be solved. If the problem persists, you might consider finding a replacement app in the App Store.
You've done what you can to stop any potential data leak. Now it is important to explain a simple method of keeping an eye on your apps so as to prevent any rogue data users from getting out of control again. Go on back into your Settings app and again open up the Cellular tab. If you scroll all the way to the bottom, you'll see a 'Reset Statistics' option. Tap this and your data usage numbers will disappear and fall down to zero. Check on your data statistics again in a day or two to see if you've solved the problem. It's good practice to get into the habit of checking your data statistics once a week or so. Also, it can be very helpful to reset your statistics at the beginning of a new billing period. This way, you'll be able to keep an eye on your numbers to ensure you don't go over your allotted data amount.
One Final Culprit: Mail
So, you've followed all of these steps to solve your data problems, and yet you still get charged an obscene amount of money for data at the end of your billing period. Your last troubleshoot is to identify whether your data usage is coming largely from uploads or downloads. This makes no difference to your carrier; you'll get charged for sent data just as much as received data. However, this particular distinction might prove essential to plugging your data leak. This information may be found on your bill. However, if that fails, you'll have to log into you account on your carrier's website or simply pick up the phone and give them a ring.
The big thing that can happen here is a glitch with Mail. If there is some problem with how your email account is set up, the resulting data usage can be monstrous. Often, an improper account set-up can lead to a message being perennially stuck in your outbox, in a constant state of being sent over and over. This will understandably rack up the gigabytes of data.
Such a problem can be identified by the fact that your carrier's website will show you your iPhone is uploading an inordinate amount of data. A quick trip into your mail server settings to set the problem right will most likely stop your constant flow of data, and the correlating flow of cash out of your bank account.
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