Are you regularly exceeding your monthly data limit but not sure where all that precious data is going? We have some tips to help you a) monitor your usage and b) get the most out of it. 

You need to be careful that you stay within the limits of your plan each month, otherwise you can run into costly add-ons. But what happens if you find yourself regularly exceeding your limit? How can you find out what specific apps are gobbling up the most data?

In general, the big users of data tend to be video and audio-based, anything from YouTube to Spotify, or perhaps watching live TV on the go. Any apps that uses GPS on an ongoing basis will also eat into your data, as they are constantly looking to establish your location, e.g. Google Maps.

The problem when monitoring data usage however, can be that a number of apps actually consume copious amounts of data in the background, i.e. when you're not actively using them.

Here are some handy tips for finding out where all your precious data is going – and how to stem the flow!

Are you an Android or iOS user? 

Unsurprisingly, the type of phone you use will dictate how you monitor your data use and make sure you don’t have those data gobbling apps running in the background.
  • For Android users
Bizarrely, the answer to managing your data on an Android phone is to install yet another app. Free apps, such as My Data Manager, allow you to quickly and easily track the apps you use.

You simply open the app and it will show you at a glance where all those megabytes are going. Obviously, if you spot an app that is sucking large amounts of your allowance, you could consider deleting it altogether, or simply making sure that it isn’t running in the background.
  • For iPhone users
If you're like most people, you will use an app and then continue to leave it running in the background. Every so often, double tap the home button, which will show you all apps that are currently active. Turn off as many as possible simply by swiping upwards.

Have you turned off Wi-Fi?

Occasionally, you may turn off Wi-Fi and forget to turn it back on again. This means that you’re paying for all data used, via your data plan, as opposed to being able to piggyback on your home or work Wi-Fi, or the free Wi-Fi in your favourite coffee shop. 

Keep an eye on GPS apps

Apps that use GPS to locate your phone – such as Google Maps – can drain your battery very quickly. You’ll know this if you’ve every used your smartphone as a Sat Nav device on a long journey.

It's safe to say that any apps that eat battery are also eating data, so be careful how you use them. If you need directions from your home in Dublin to a business address in Limerick, for example, consider only using Google Maps when on the outskirts of Limerick. Otherwise, you’re simply wasting data on the section of the journey where you actually know the way – just stick to the main, signposted routes.

If you don’t intentionally use GPS apps on a regular basis, you could consider turning locations services off. This means that your phone won't be continuously looking to determine where it is at any given moment, which can eat a lot of data over a 24-hour period.

There is such a thing as being 'too social'

Look, we’re all friends here, and as much as we might deny our reliance on social media, the stats are there in black and white; on average we spend around one hour and 40 minutes a day checking our social media accounts, and if you ask us that’s a little on the modest side. But how much data is stalking your ex’s new girlfriend or following a match feed on Twitter costing you in real terms? 

You have to remember with social media you are using data when you’re uploading that selfie and when you’re downloading your home feed, both of which is eating up your data. If you’re uploading to social media, your data use will generally depend on the size of the file – i.e. if it’s an image or a video – you want to upload and the strength of the connection but in general you can expect to use at least a couple of MBs. Equally, updating your Facebook news feed could take anything from 50KB up to nearly 1MB depending on how many posts your update and if there are pictures and videos in the posts. Moral of the story, maybe wait until you have Wi-Fi to upload those selfies. 

Are your music apps always on?

Music apps are also amongst the guilty parties when it comes to gobbling up your data. If you're listening to music, then that’s fine, but make sure you quit out of the app when you’ve finished enjoying your playlist. Remember, apps like Spotify can use about 500KB a minute, so if you do have a premium account download your playlists in advance to play offline on the bus to work.