How to manage mobile data usage on Android

Don’t get caught out on mobile data. Here’s how to monitor and control the data allocation on your Android phone or tablet.

It’s a scary thought that using too much mobile data with your Android device could cost you money. You could even go over your data limit and be stuck without internet access. The horror!

To help you keep on top of those data figures, here’s our guide to checking and controlling data usage on your Android 4.0 ICS and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean devices…

Data usage tool

Introduced in Android 4.0 was a new Data usage tool. To access this select App Drawer > Settings > Data usage.

The Data usage tool is far more complex than it first appears. You can scroll through the list of apps and tap individual ones to get more details.

Tapping the graph itself enables you to move the selection marks to view specific date ranges, or tap the date menu at the top to see available cycle dates (usually a monthly cycle). Under individual apps you’ll be shown how much data the app has used.


Wi-Fi hotspots

If you use your phone as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot or connect to a data-limited hotel or travel Wi-Fi hotspots, then Android 4.2 can help you stop busting data limits with its Data usage tool.

It achieves this by stopping background data access. It also has the extra advantage of speeding up access for the current app you’re using, by ensuring it has full access to the Wi-Fi hotspot’s bandwidth.

It globally enables you to mark a Wi-Fi network as data-limited. This then stops apps from using them for background data and will pop up a warning if you attempt to download large files or high levels of data over these hotspots.

To swing the system into action open the App Drawer and select Settings > Data usage > top-right Menu > Mobile hotspots.

This gives you the option to mark specific Wi-Fi networks you’ve connected to as “Mobile” hotspots, which stops background apps accessing data.


An app for that

If you want something a little more visual and obvious then we’d recommend the My Data Manager app.

This highly-rated and long-established data management app offers all the pie charts and monitoring features you could ever need.


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