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8 tips to reduce data consumption

Posted by Henry Cheang | July 23, 2014 8:00 AM

Insidiously high data usage rates

And we’re back to Bring-Your-Own-Device(-BYOD)-related topics this week! Today I’ll be talking about how to avoid going past allotted data limits phone plans and reduce data consumption overall. If you are reimbursing your employees for their BYOD data/voice usage, then the following tips are very pertinent!



Basically, if you or your employees aren’t careful, your per-user data plans can be sucked dry in a single day, and you’ll be stuck paying overage fees. Don’t believe me? Here are the estimated rates of data usage (compiled from a variety of carriers) for the most popular data-intensive phone activities:


Data Usage per Unit

Streaming video

1-5MB per minute, depending on video quality

Streaming music

30MB per hour

Downloading songs

4-15MB per song, depending on song length/quality

Posting to social media

1-3MB per post (with photo)

Downloading apps/games

1-4MB per app/game

Surfing the web

0.17-0.3MB per webpage, or up to 15MB per hour of surfing

Sending emails (without attachments)

0.01-0.02MB per email

Sending text messages (without attachments)

0.03MB per message

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As you can see, emails and text messages aren’t terribly data-intensive. But all the other fun things? They eat into data very quickly. If you’ve watched an hour of video on Youtube on the lower end of the scale that I’ve listed above, you’ll have gone through 60MB; set to high definition, the data usage is 300MB.

Things get really bad when you’ve spent those minutes without even intending to do so. After all, there is currently no shortage of apps on your mobile that are set to do things (such as stream video) automatically, without your notice. You could easily end up wasting precious data on things that you not only never use, but never even see. So, what can you do to limit data usage?

Tips to reduce data consumption for all phones    

1. Stop streaming!

o   As you can see from the table above, the two biggest data hogs are music streaming and especially video streaming! You should probably give up watching Youtube and Netflix off your smartphone’s data plan and opt instead to use WIFI for these apps. On most streaming apps, you choose the option to stream via WIFI-only in the “Setting” tab/function in the app’s menu. Now, if you absolutely must use such apps, then you really should look at raising the limit on your data cap. Better to pay for it first at a preferred rate rather than paying for it later via overage charges, after all…

2. Block apps from using background data!

o   These days, apps do all kinds of things in the background. They send usage data back to the app-maker (ostensibly to “improve your experience”), locate you in 3D space, and are actively trawling for updates and so on. A recent example is Facebook’s Video Autoplay function. The thing is, this all eats up data! Do yourself a favour and turn them all off in the “Settings” function.

3. Don’t clear your cache all the time.

o   For sites that you visit often, the cache also holds elements of the sites that don’t have to be re-downloaded every time. However, if you clear the cache, then you’ll be downloading the same data over and over again. It’s a big waste that you can do without! And on a related note…

4. Pre-cache wherever possible!

o   Increasingly, apps will allow you to pre-cache components essential to their functioning using WIFI. Look for this feature in the “Settings” tab of your app.

5. Play multiplayer games, do video chat, and post photos/videos to social media on WIFI only.

o   All of these activities burn through data usage very quickly. Wait until you’re in range of a WIFI network to do them if at all possible!

6. Find free WIFI.

o   There are increasing numbers of free WIFI networks in big (and even not-so-big) cities. They’re a good way to help you bring down your data costs. That said, security is an issue – reserve free WIFI use for non-essential apps, and make certain that you don’t pass along anything critical while on an unsecured network.

7. Avoid/block ads!

o   Many apps, especially free ones, are ad-supported. The apps piggyback in ads off your data plan. There are other apps that allow you to block those ads. That said, the only reason why that app you love is free is because of those self-same ads. So, maybe you can live with not blocking them? Alternately, you can upgrade to the pro/paid versions and be ad-free!

8. Use lighter web browsers.

o   Not all webpage elements are necessary to your browsing experience. Take advantage of that fact by using lighter versions of browsers. Alternately, you can set your browser settings to not show the desktop version of webpages for additional data savings!

A final word…

These are some of the most important general tips for reducing data consumption on cell phones. If I may add one more, users who calculate their likely monthly usage with the information in the table that I presented above will have a better sense of the monthly data cap needed. After all, planning is a very good way of reducing costs! And if you have any other tips to cut data consumption, please leave them in the comments section below!

In that vein, might I recommend that IT managers and other decision-makers opt for models other than BYOD? While you can and should trust your employees to do the right thing (you’re all supposed to be on the same team, after all), BYOD has some pretty serious cost and security issues which are very challenging to overcome on an organizational level. It’s ultimately easier and more cost-effective for the company to own and manage mobile devices and data plans, especially with telecom expense management solutions such as Cimpl. We are Canada’s leaders in IT and telecom expense management, and we’ve been helping companies manage and cut their telecom expense costs for 14 years. Contact us to find out more!

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Topics: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Tips and Tricks, Data

Written by Henry Cheang

Henry is a dedicated technical writer, focused on conducting market research, contributing to product design, and writing clear and concise documentation for the company. He is an enthusiastic team member and is passionate about science and technology, who plays a key role in Cimpl’s product messaging. His dedication to writing is reflected in his experience in authoring academic papers, documentation, user guides, and in contributing to Cimpl’s marketing efforts.

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