The Worst Apps for Your Data Plan

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two women using apps on their phone that use a lot of data

Data Plans Apps

The average person has 27 apps on their phone according to Statista. No wonder that these little suckers are sucking all the data out of our phone plans right?! So do you have to delete your apps? The answer is no. You should if you don’t use them but if you use them, we have some hacks which will make your data plan last longer.

Facebook  Facebook – Don’t Autoplay Videos

Hand to heart – how many times per day (or per hour) do you check Facebook? It’s no wonder that Facebook is usually the top data consumer on your phone. The best thing you can do is to limit auto-playing videos. This is how:

  • Open Facebook, tap the More button, and then Settings.
  • Choose Account Settings and then tap Videos and Photos.
  • Tap Autoplay and then choose either On Wi-Fi Connections Only or Never Autoplay Videos.

Instragram   Instagram – Don’t Preload Videos

Ever since Instagram launched videos and not to mention Instagram Stories, Instagram is close to consuming as much data as its owner Facebook. Again, it’s the auto-playing of videos that is the villain. The app preloads videos so they start playing as soon as you see them in your feed. To prevent videos from preloading:

  • Open Instagram, go to the profile page, and open settings.
  • Tap Cellular Data Use.
  • Tap to switch for Use Less Data.

It won’t stop Instagram from auto-playing your videos, but it will stop them from preloading videos when you’re not on WiFi.

Snapchat   Snapchat – Activate Travel Mode

Like Instagram, Snapchat pre-load Stories and Snaps so that they appear as soon as you check your feed which is consuming a lot of your data plan. However, if you switch to Travel Mode, you can prevent the preloading:

  • Open Snapchat and swipe down to see the profile screen.
  • Tap Settings in the upper right corner.
  • Go to Manage and enable Travel Mode.

You Tube  YouTube – Optimize Wi-Fi Settings

Unlike Instagram and Facebook, YouTube doesn’t autoplay videos but that doesn’t mean that it’s still an app that will consume a big chunk of data. 10 minutes of streaming YouTube videos will cost you about 250 MB of data as you could read in our previous blog post: How Much Data Do I Really Need.

What you can do to save  on your data plan is to force YouTube to only play videos in HD when you are on Wi-Fi:

  • Open YouTube, tap the button in the top right corner, and tap Settings.
  • Tap to turn on Play HD on Wi-Fi only.
  • If you upload videos to YouTube on a regular basis, you can also choose to Upload over Wi-Fi only when you’re in Settings.

Netflix  Netflix – Adjust Cellular Data Usage Settings

According to Netflix, watching it uses about 1 GB of data per hour for standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video.

The easiest way to reduce data usage is to change the settings (please note that settings are only changed for the account you’re logged in as it’s not per device):

  • Open Netflix, tap the Menu icon in the upper left or upper right corner.
  • Choose App Settings and then Cellular Data Usage.
  • Choose your preferred setting:
    • Off – only stream when on Wi-Fi.
    • Auto – stream to the highest quality depending on your internet speed (approx. 3 hours per GB of data).
    • Low – stream approx. 4 hours per GB of data.
    • Medium – stream approx. 2 hours per GB of data.
    • High – stream about 1 hour per GB of data.
    • Unlimited – not recommended unless you have an unlimited plan. 20 minutes of watching will eat about 1 GB of data.

With some preparations, you can also enjoy Netflix offline. Not every movie and tv-show is available offline but once you’ve found one, tap the download icon. Go to  My Downloads and enjoy some offline watching.

Amazon Videos  Amazon Videos – Manage Mobile Data Usage

Just like Netflix, you can watch Amazon videos in an offline mode but you have to be a Prime member. Make sure you’re on a WiFI connection before you start the download. Find the title and tap the download option. Once the download is complete, a “Downloaded” or “checkmark” icon displays in the video details. You can also go to the Downloads in the Amazon Video menu.

You can also limit the watching to when your mobile is connected to WiFi or change the video quality settings. This is how:

  • Open Amazon Video and tap Settings from the menu.
  • Select Streaming & Downloading.
  • Choose your preferred video quality for streaming and/or downloading the video.
  • Select the Wi-Fi Only option to only stream or download video when your device is connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Spotify  Spotify – Make Playlists Available Offline

It’s easy to let Spotify run freely in the background the whole day, which will kill your data plan. But if you’re a premium user, Spotify allows you to download albums and playlists to avoid streaming.

  • Open Spotify and go to a playlist or album
  • Tap Download at the top of the page

Spotify downloads when you’re on WiFi unless you’ve enabled the setting Download Using Cellular, which you will find under Settings and Streaming Quality. If you want to be absolutely certain that you’re not streaming, go to Settings, choose Playback and tap Offline. This means you’ll only be able to downloaded playlists.

No matter if you’re a premium user or not, you can change your streaming quality setting in order to control the cellular data usage:

  • Open Settings and tap Streaming Quality
  • Choose between Automatic, Normal, High and Extreme.  where Normal is equivalent to approx. 96kbit/s.

Keep using all the apps you want but be smart about it to make your data plan last longer!


1 comment
  1. Good tips! What about Twitter, though? That can be a data hog with autoplay videos from news accounts (NowThis, AJ+, etc.) as well.

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