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Monitoring Your Mobile Data Usage

Do you find yourself running out of mobile data each month, never able to quite stay under the set amount before your 30 day refresh? To help you avoid being overcharged for exceeding your allowance, we take a look at why your data may be draining so quickly, how you can monitor your mobile data usage, and what you can do to prevent wasting it. 

Last updated: 21st Dec 2020 at 2:05pm

What is mobile data?

Mobile data is a type of technology that allows you to access the internet when there is no private or public Wi-Fi to connect to. 

3G and 4G (the ‘third’ and ‘fourth’ generation) are the most common data speeds used at the moment, but 5G is quickly coming into the limelight with wider UK coverage and an increasing number of compatible handsets.

Monitoring your data usage

It’s important to monitor how much mobile data you use per month so you can figure out if you need to change your bundle. You may find you’re overpaying for the one you currently use, or notice you need a bigger plan to satisfy your needs. 

If you have a particularly small data allowance, it can be difficult to make it last the whole 30 days. Whether you use mobile data to check and update social media, stream music or videos while commuting, order food or transport, or video call friends and family, it all eats up data. 

And maybe quicker than you think!

What uses mobile data?

If you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, the following activities will drain your mobile data, sometimes to the point of running out before your monthly refresh. Having an idea of how much each task uses up will help you decide how much data you might actually need. Keep in mind that 1000MB equals 1GB, and most plans give you between 500MB and 30GB per month.

Social media

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Tumblr, and Twitter are all popular social media apps that many people use on a daily basis on their phones. 

You can message friends and family, update posts and statuses, send videos and pictures, and lots more. Once you start connecting on these apps, you could be using up to 2.6MB per minute. If you spend an hour on social media per day strictly using your data, you could use up to 2.7GB per month. For some, that’s their whole allowance. 

Streaming music

Spotify is a popular music streaming app that millions of people around the world use on a daily basis. You can download and create playlists, listen to podcasts, share with the community, and stream endless amounts of music. 

If you use Spotify for an hour solely on mobile data, you could use up to 72MB. Data usage varies depending on the quality of music; streaming high-quality could use even more, at around 115MB per hour. 

Streaming videos

Like with music, the quality of video will affect the amount of data you use up. YouTube is a popular streaming service that many like to watch during their commute, or while on a long road journey. 

Standard definition videos use around 700MB per hour, but many prefer high definition (HD) streaming nowadays, as the picture is much more crisp and clearer. 

HD streaming at 720p uses 900MB, 1080p uses 1.5GB, and 2K will drain around 3GB per hour. The higher the quality, the more data it will take. 

Email and web 

Browsing the web is easily the least data-intensive activity you could be doing on your phone. If you’re simply scrolling through the internet for around an hour, you’ll only use around 50MB

While that doesn’t sound like a lot, it can add up. If you browsed the internet and checked your emails for an hour each day on mobile data, you could use up as much as 1.5G once the month is over. 

Plans exceeding 4GB of data per month will be best for people who prefer to use data over a Wi-Fi router.

How to monitor usage

Most smartphones have an option in settings which will show you which apps or downloads are using up the most data, so if you can’t keep track of what you’re up to, you can rest assured your phone does. The information will usually be under Data Usage in your Settings

Reducing mobile data usage

If you find yourself constantly running out of mobile data, you could simply  look at upgrading to a larger bundle that better accommodates your usage.

You can use our bundle calculator to get a better idea of how much data, texts and calls you actually need. 

If you don’t want to increase your monthly bill, here’s some tips on how to reduce your data usage.

Connect to Wi-Fi

The first step to limiting your data usage would be to connect to Wi-Fi whenever possible, be it at home or work. Some forms of transport like buses and trains offer free Wi-Fi, so look out for those when commuting - it could save you a lot of data wastage. 

Stop apps using data in the background

Social media apps do tend to take up mobile data even when you’re not on them, as they perform automatic refreshes and downloads in the background. You can disable background data usage in your settings.

You can also completely stop apps from using mobile data. If you don’t want a data-intensive app to ever connect whilst out and about, go to mobile data and turn off whichever apps you see fit.

Install a data monitoring app

Data monitoring apps may be another option to help you stay aware of your usage and to help reduce the amount you use each month. These types of apps will send you alerts, so you can keep track of your habits and avoid running out before your contract refreshes. 

If you’re an Asda Mobile customer, you can find out how much data you’ve used by texting BAL to 2732

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