Do not take your unlimited internet plan for granted. You’ll find that you’ll run out of data faster than you expect when you switch to prepaid promos and volume-based subscriptions.
I’ve been living on limited data for about a month now, a choice I had to make after moving to a new residence that isn’t serviceable by my Internet service provider. But I have learned to live with a data limit without severely affecting my work and online needs by doing these tips and tricks.
Monitor your data usage and configure your device settings
First of all, you’ll need to monitor your internet usage. Because I failed to do so in my case, I easily consumed 10 gigabytes from my Globe postpaid plan in one day. Soon enough, I had to look for other options outside my postpaid plan, including buying a prepaid SIM card and repeatedly subscribing to promos.
For many operating systems, like Windows 10 and Android, built-in features are already available to help you monitor and control your data consumption.
To monitor and configure your data usage in Windows 10, first connect to the network with a data-capped Internet access. Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Data Usage, select the data-capped network to show its own settings.
From there you’ll see how much data you’ve consumed in Windows 10 via that network connection for the last 30 days. You can check the breakdown by clicking View Usage Per App to see which of your programs are the most data-hungry.
An option is also available to prevent you from exceeding past your data limit. Besides specifying how much data you can only consume, you can set a limit type, whether it’s on a monthly basis with a specific reset date or a one-time limit that lasts for a specific number of days.
Furthermore, it’s best you always restrict apps and Windows features so their data usage is minimized when they’re running in the background.
And lastly, check Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options. Make sure Windows 10 is not downloading updates over your metered connection. Also disable automatic online peer-to-peer update sharing by going to Delivery Optimization in Advanced Options. Make sure the option that says PCs on the Internet is not selected.
If you’re using an Android device with limited mobile data allocation, go to Settings > Connections > Data Usage.
(Note: Navigating to certain settings in Android varies among custom skins and stock Android. Alternatively, you can use the Setting app’s search bar to locate specific settings.)
You’ll see a lot of information and configurations under Data Usage. To control your usage, start by enabling Data Saver so apps won’t be allowed to consume data in the background. However, you’ll need to disable this whenever you use the device as a mobile hotspot.
Go to Mobile Data Usage to check your usage history, both overall and per-app basis. To configure, tap the cog icon to proceed to the Billing Cycle and Data Warning section, where you can set the start of the billing cycle, as well as enable the data warning and limit. Set the limit to around 90%. Upon reaching that threshold, you’ll have to manually override the limit so you can use the remaining reserved 10% for your most important online tasks. If you have multiple SIM cards, Android will have a separate data usage page for each of your SIM cards.
If you’re connected to a device with limited mobile data, go to Settings > Connections > Wi-Fi. While you’re connected to the device’s hotspot, tap the gear icon, select Advanced, tap Metered Network, and select Treat as Metered. This should make your Android device be more conservative with its data consumption off the metered hotspot. As an extra precaution, disable automatically reconnecting to the metered hotspot.
Don’t forget the automatic app updates. Launch the Google Play Store, open the menu (the icon at the upper-left corner of the screen), and select Settings. Select the Over Wi-Fi Only option for App Download Preference, Auto-Update Apps, and Auto-Play Videos. (Note that updates still won’t download with this option on metered Wi-Fi connections.)
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Configure your applications
Besides the universal settings in your operating system, go the extra mile by configuring each of your apps. Each app has its own navigation and steps to configure its settings, but generally you’ll need to find and achieve the following:
- Disable automatic updates, especially on mobile/hotspot connection.
- Use bandwidth limits for both download and upload.
- Disable automatic startup of apps when the operating system boots up.
- Enable lite or data saver mode whenever available.
- Force an offline mode for apps that you want to be cut off from the Internet.
- Disable extra features/addons that consume data.
- Turn off autoplay of videos.
- Enable offline playback/viewing for music and videos.
- Disable automatic syncing.
- Use a “Wi-Fi only” mode for updates, downloads, and other functions.
Here are some extra tips for commonly used apps and programs:
Google apps and services
Enable Lite Mode for the mobile Chrome browser. This mode is unavailable for the desktop version, so navigate instead to chrome://flags, find the #force-effective-connection-type flag, and set it to a 2G option.
Is Google your main search engine? Use an extension to force Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on the search results.
If you often use Google Maps for directions, use Offline Maps (go to Menu > Offline Maps) to save an area to your mobile device. You’ll then be able to view this area even when you’re offline or at a low-reception location. Google Maps will also use the cached area instead of repeatedly consuming data to load mapping information.
For Gmail mobile users, enable the automatic download of mail attachments over Wi-Fi. Go to Gmail app menu, select Settings, choose your email account, and tick the Download Attachments checkbox.
An hour of video session on Zoom may use up to 2 GB. To reduce Zoom’s data usage, disable high-definition video streaming (or disable video altogether if voice communication alone will suffice). If you need to screen share, do it succinctly.
Avoid the official mobile app and website. Visit mbasic.facebook.com instead. It’s ugly, but it’s fast and saves data.
Other mobile data-saving tips
Use bandwidth throttling software. If you want client-side software, there’s something like NetLimiter.com. For network-level throttling, look for home routers that have traffic management features. Use ad blockers on your Internet browser. Not only does an ad blocker reduce page load times, but it also saves bandwidth.
Change your online lifestyle. Heavy downloads are almost always impractical on limited data. If you really need to download large files, find free public hotspots or coffee shops with fast Internet connection. Spending on a cup of coffee may be worth it if the Wi-Fi is fast, stable, and unlimited.
Forget online PC gaming on limited mobile data allocation. The updates alone are frequent and usually require at least hundreds of megabytes. Data usage may also be heavy during play. For instance, Overwatch uses 100MB per hour. The same goes with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. MMORPGs use even more.
When considering prepaid and limited-data subscriptions, choose ones that offer the most value. Make full use of rewards and rebate systems (such as Smart’s Giga Points and load rebates on GCash) to get a better ratio of data to cost. When redeeming rewards, always get the one with the best value, even if you have to save up a lot of points for it. Avoid “tingi” packages that are easier to avail of but offer the least value.
Do not let your unused remaining data go to waste. Before they expire, use them for downloads. Better yet, use a promo or subscription that allows you to extend the expiry date of your unused data if you’re not going for no expiry. For example, with Globe’s ongoing Go prepaid promo, Go50 is the best choice in terms of data volume-price ratio, specifically at 100 megabytes per peso. Its three-day duration is short, but at least you can renew to extend the duration.
For postpaid, look for a plan that comes with a rollover feature, which basically allows unused data to be carried over to the next billing cycle. If you keep exceeding your monthly data allocation, consider upgrading to a higher plan, so you don’t have to register for expensive data boosters and add-ons. Check if your workplace or company offers postpaid plans for employees. These plans often have better perks than what is generally offered to regular consumers.
When creating a mobile hotspot, make sure the password is long and hard to guess, so no random person can connect and mooch off your precious, limited mobile data. Disable Download Booster, Wi-Fi Assist or similar features on smartphones that use cellular data in tandem with the Wi-Fi.
If you must transfer to a new residence, ensure the new place is serviceable by a reliable ISP. I learned this the hard way when it turned out my new location is not within the coverage area of my regular ISP, and I then had to resort to using limited data. But, hey, at least it got me to learn and share these tips.
Got other tips to lower data usage and avoid exceeding your prepaid/subscription limit? Share them in the comments.