How to conserve mobile data to save money

Anyone with a smartphone is familiar with data plans. In fact, data may be more important to consumers than their phone minutes, as making phone calls has taken a backseat to various other smartphone capabilities.

Deciphering data plans has become complicated. As major mobile carriers frequently jockey for position, the prices of plans change depending on various factors, including data. Short-term offers to lure in new customers can also complicate matters, as can deciding just how much data one person needs.

Consumer Reports has done the research and offers their comparison on the most promising data plans. However, people looking to maximize the data they have and not incur any overage charges can consider these tips to conserve data and save money.

Restrict automatic downloads. Adjust phone settings to prevent operating systems from automatically downloading movies or apps or making phone updates when you are away from a Wi-Fi signal. This will cut down on data usage and improve the speed of downloads.

Disable background app refresh. On iOS systems, apps may update in the background to show new content when you return to them. To conserve data, select which apps to refresh in the background rather than having them all do so.

Take note of data usage. Determine how much data you’re consuming by examining current and past statements. Some providers enable you to set limits on data usage and even alert you when you’re getting close.

Connect to Wi-Fi whenever possible. Many public places now provide Wi-Fi access. As long as you are not sharing sensitive information, it can be safe to use public Wi-Fi, which should not count against your data consumption.

Turn maps off. Navigation apps can draw a lot of data. Turning them off when they’re not being used can reduce data consumption. Some maps can be exported as PDFs, which can be referred to while maps are offline as well.

Preserve your cache. Waiting for images from frequently visited websites to download each time you visit a site can drain data. Preserving your cache can reduce the amount of time it takes for websites to open.

Use mobile websites. Many mobile versions of sites are optimized to condense images and other files, which can reduce data consumption.

Opt for offline listening. The popular audio streaming apps have different offline options where music can be downloaded and played without having to stream over a connection.

Smartphone users can reduce their data consumption in various ways, and doing so can help save money.