Control your data usage on Android

These days most telecom data plans are advertised as ‘unlimited’ but they all usually come with a Fair Usage Policy (FUP) that limits your usage to a certain cut-off point beyond which the data streaming speed falls precipitously and charges for extra data rises sharply.

If you do not want to be caught in this ‘beyond unlimited’ zone, then it is all the more important that you stay within your maximum data allowance that ‘unlimited’ bandwidth provides you. Monitoring your data usage is now quite straightforward using tools baked into current versions of Android or through using a third-party app. Here are a few strategies that you can try to monitor your usage.

Limit the data you use: Set the phone to signal a warning when you are approaching the data limit on your plan, or fix a limit beyond which your phone will not use any data

Go to: Settings – Network & internet – Data usage – Data warning & limit.

Tap on ‘App data usage cycle’. This will allow you to set the day that your account starts its monthly cycle. Go back and ‘Set data warning’ on. You can then enter the data limit — say, 4GB — that you want for your phone.

On the same page, you can toggle ‘Set data limit’ on. This will turn off your mobile data completely when it hits whatever limit you set.

If you have Android 8.0 or later, your phone should come equipped with Data Saver mode, which kicks in when you are not on Wi-Fi and ensures that apps and services that are not being actively used will not be able to stream data in the background.

It is easy to turn Data Saver mode on and off.

Go to: Settings – Network & internet – Data usage

Select ‘Data Saver’. Toggle ‘Use Data Saver’ on.

If there are specific apps that you want to use background data, when Data Saver mode is on then go to: ‘Data Saver’ as above and tap on ‘Unrestricted data’

Scroll down to any apps that you want to enable for background data use even when Data Saver mode is on. Toggle them on.

While Data Saver can help you manage which apps are allowed to work in the background, you may want more detailed control of your data. In that case, an app such as Google’s Datally, My Data Manager, or one of several available data management apps can help.

Datally, for example, will not only automatically prevent apps from working in the background, but it will also allow you to set a daily data limit and a bedtime mode, create an emergency bank of data (in case you run low toward the end of the month), and monitor hot spot usage, which can easily destroy a month’s data allowance in very short order.

Whether you use the tools baked into Android or a specialized data management app, you and your data plan are the winners.