Economising your mobile data usage - Data saving strategies

Economising your mobile data usage - Data saving strategies

Mobile data is expensive& can be consumed with incredible speed if used without consideration. This article discusses what usage consumes the most data whilst also providing a number of simple techniques which can help economies your usage.

What consumes the most data?

Data usage varies dramatically from app to app& it can seem quite puzzling at first why certain apps guzzle data when others use next to nothing over the course of hours. On a basic level this can be summarised as follows:

  1. Low data usage:Anything text-based uses tiny amounts of data, thus things such as text messaging, text only emails& low content web pages will not consume large volumes of data.
  2. Medium data usage:Audio& pictures use a  reasonable level of data& whilst both can produce seemingly small files, the number of files a person will consume means data usage can get quite high, quickly.
  3. High data usage:Streaming video, on sites such as Youtube or Netflix, uses large amounts of data. If trying to economies on data usage then media streaming services should be avoided.  Downloading apps& updating apps or updating your phones operating system can also lead to high data usage.

Examples of data usage

Below is a list of common internet-based activities which will give you a sense of how much data is consumed. Remember there are 1024 Megabytes (MB) in 1 Gigabyte (GB).

  • Streaming one hour of video on Netflix, iPlayer or Amazon Prime – 644MB
  • Streaming a two-hour movie in high definition – 4.2GB
  • Gaming online for an hour – 43MB
  • Streaming an hour of music via Spotify or Apple Music – 80MB
  • Browsing through 60 web pages – 140MB
  • Download one song – 4–8MB
  • Download a film trailer – 60–100MB
  • One hour of driving while using Google Maps – 5MB

View your data usage

GrapheneOS provides a useful tool for reviewing mobile data usage. It both explains your data usage over the previous month& indicates the apps which were used. Moreover, you can set your handset to warn you when you use a preset amount of mobile data& actually switch off mobile data once a hard limit is reached. These usage meters reset each month& this means you can effectively manage your Omerta data quota. The accompanying video shows how to locate this tool.

Data saving techniques

By modifying a number of settings on your handset it is possible to make considerable data savings which allows you to use your mobile data quota for fun things such as browsing the Internet or speaking on Signal.

Prevent system& app auto-updates from using mobile data

One area which consumes a lot of data is system& app updates. Rather than use your mobile data for updates, a sensible strategy is to set your phone to download these updates over Wifi instead, thus saving more expensive mobile data. The instructions below advise on how to do this.

Set GrapheneOS to update via Wifi Only

  1. Go to settings
  2. Select System
  3. Select Advanced then System Update Settings
  4. Set Permitted Networks to Unmetered.

Set Aptiode to update over Wifi Only

  1. Open Aptode and click on your avatar on the top right
  2. Choose settings
  3. Enable "Download only over Wifi"

Set Aurora to update over Wifi Only

  1. Open  Aurora
  2. Press the stacked horizontal lines icon on the top left
  3. Choose settings then Downloads
  4. Enable Download using Wifi Only

Set F-Droid to update over Wifi Only

  1. Open F-Droid
  2. Choose settings from  lower right
  3. Locate slider under Updates.
  4. Slide to the far right to set it to Over Wifi


It is possible to effectively manage your mobile phone usage using the tools discussed above& being more aware of what constitutes high data usage. Certainly restricting updates to Wifi only& avoiding media streaming sites such as Netflix  or Youtube can be the difference between your quota lasting a few hours to lasting 30 days!

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