10 tips to save data

With the demand for data at an all-time high, many consumers find themselves struggling to manage their bills, or receiving nasty surprises at the end of the month.
Altech Autopage shares some tips on how to take control of your data consumption.

Inclusive data
Did you know that out-of-bundle data rates are much more expensive than in-bundle data rates? If your data costs are getting you down, why not upgrade your package to one that has a higher inclusive data allowance, or add a data bundle to your package?

Turn on WiFi
Did you know most smartphones can automatically switch to connected WiFi networks when you’re in range? Altech Autopage has a WiFi Hotspotter service that allows you to connect to the Internet via WiFi zones without the use of an external 3G modem, dongle, or cable. Whether you are at your local coffee shop, the airport or a hotel, our more than 1800 WiFi hotspots will keep you connected nationwide. You will have access to a local, dedicated customer support team around-the-clock to assist with any technical queries you may have. This service costs only R39 per month.

Do software upgrades over WiFi
The iOS v8.0 update is 1.9Gb of data – if you had to run an update on out-of-bundle data (R1 per Mb) you would end up paying R1 900.

Browse on mobi sites
If you are surfing the net from your phone, you should only browse mobile versions of websites, because they tend to be simpler versions that use less data.

Change your browser
Did you know that mobile browsers like Opera Mini are designed to compress data and reduce your data usage? There are other browsers, like the TextOnly browser on Android, that strip out all the images and only display text.

Keep your cache
Although deleting your cache frees up space on your phone, it also means you have to reload the images every time you go to a frequently visited website.

Use a data monitor
Did you know that you can monitor your overall data usage per app on most Android and iOS smartphones? Once you know which apps are the culprits you can manage your interaction with them to reduce data usage. Android phones have a Data Monitor feature that can be accessed through Settings -> Data Usage. You can even set data usage notifications for your device to warn you when you are approaching a limit that you’ve set. Apple’s iOS data monitor settings are under Settings -> General -> Usage -> Cellular Usage. You can see how much data has been sent and received overall, but not per app. You’ll need to download an app like Data Master or Onavo if you would like to monitor per app usage.

Restrict background data
Did you know that some apps use your data even while you are not using them? Tapping on an app in the Data Monitor menu will open its data usage settings if any are available. Here you can monitor the foreground and background data usage of the various apps. Foreground data consumption shows you the data usage when the app is opened and actively used by you, while background data consumption shows you how much data the app uses in the background, even when the app is not open or being used by you, for notifications and so on. If the background data usage is very high you can choose to restrict background data. Apps like Advanced Task Killer are worth having to make sure you are only running apps and programs on your phone that you need.

Turn off GPS
Most smartphones and many apps prompt you to enable location detection (GPS). This can drain your battery and also add to your data consumption. You can deactivate location or GPS under settings on most smartphones and only enable the feature when you’re using a location-sensitive app.

Use data intensive apps with caution
Content-rich media like video calling, online gaming, HD video or audio streaming, YouTube and Pinterest are the usual data consumption culprits. Even Facebook – if you upload a lot of photos and videos – can be a data hog. Did you know, for instance, that just one hour of streaming HD video can consume up to 2Gb of data?

What’s eating your mobile data?
A smartphone with full web browsing capability and data apps can give you the freedom to send and receive e-mails, browse the Internet and use social media. But this freedom comes at a cost because the more you e-mail, surf and tweet the more data you will consume. Let’s get back to basics, one byte at a time.
From Byte to Gigabyte:
Byte = smallest unit of data
Kilobyte (Kb ) = 1 024 bytes
Megabyte (Mb) = 1 024 kilobytes
Gigabyte (Gb ) = 1 024 Mb
You can save data with savvy apps:

Onavo Extend
This app routes all your data through the developer’s servers, using compression technology. But the really worthwhile jewel in Onavo’s crown is its Count app. The first time you run Count, you tell it about your billing cycle and data cap, then let it take over. You can set alerts for all kinds of usage and custom alerts for data hungry apps. You can even set predictive alerts so that Count will warn you if your usage patterns will burn up your data before the end of the month.

Opera Max
This app does much the same but its sexiest feature is its ability to compress mobile video. It comes from the same developer as the Opera Mini lightweight browser. If all else fails, install a data kill-switch like Data On-Off. It’s a bit like shutting off the electricity supply to your home rather than turning off every appliance.

Four clever ways to curb consumption:
* Install an ad-blocking app;
* Cache the data you need while connected to WiFi;
* Cache Google Maps data on WiFi before starting your journey; and
* Buy your favourite apps rather than using the free version. These often have ads removed.

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