Smartphones and tablets have miniaturized the power of the computer and brought the world in the palm of your hands. With great power, though, come even greater data charges and with the majority of the functions being dependent on the internet, you can deplete your data plan without even knowing it. This results in overage charges that connection providers are more than happy to charge.
Below we’ve outlined why it’s important to keep your data usage in check and how you can determine the amount of data you’re consuming on a regular basis.
Mobile service providers are pretty thrifty when it comes to data plans, and love to bleed you dry in overage charges. An affordable data plan wouldn’t allow you more than 2GBs of data in most cases, and providers that offer more would charge you exorbitant fees if you dare to exceed your data cap.
#1 Data usage estimation
Ideally, you will look at your bills or data monitors to accurately determine how much data is being used, sometimes you might want to estimate how much data you may need in the future, or how much data you would probably consume if you start using a particular app or service.
If, for instance, you are going on a cross-country train ride and are thinking of using Netflix on your phone with a data connection during the journey, you might want to estimate how much data an hour’s use will require. You can do this by downloading data usage estimators that some cellular networks like Sprint, ATT, and Verizon offer. These may not be perfect or accurate, they’ll still give you a rough idea of how much data a particular service function will require.
If there’s one thing all three estimators will show is how easy it is to use up data and exceed your monthly cap.
#2 Usage history
If you are on a contract or make use of monthly data plans, your mobile service provider will most certainly have a web portal from where you can manage your account. This is the best place to check your past data usage, as your service provider will keep logs of your activity. Looking at these will give you a clear picture of how much data you have been using on average every month.
If you’ve been using less data than you’ve been allowed, it might be a good idea to switch to a cheaper plan, and if you’ve been consistently running out of allocated data, you might want to reconsider your usage patterns or consider switching to a more expensive plan as that may still turn out to be more economic than getting charged high overage fees.
#3 Checking recent usage stats
Although checking the bills and usage logs available on the web portal are a good way of finding out how much data you’ve been using, they’re still dated and won’t tell you how much data you’re using right now. In order to do this, you have to monitor your data consumption from within your phone.
All Android OS from 4.0 onwards come equipped with a data monitor. If you don’t know how to make use of that, we’ve outlined the process below. Open your Android Settings, navigate to Wireless & Networks and click on Data Usage.
Scrolling down on this screen will reveal a list of all the apps on your phone that require an active connection and their mobile data usage stats in MBs for the current month. Your device will also depict these statistics in the form of a chart so you can see how your usage has changed over the past months.
Any connection made outside of the cellular network, like from your home Wi-Fi, will not be logged here, unless you specifically turn it on by enabling the Wi-Fi data monitoring option from the menu on this page.