Tech Talk: Avoid the data dilemma for your phone

GREEN BAY, Wis. – - When it comes to your mobile devices, deciding how much data you need can be a tricky process. Using too much or too little can cost you cash! AT&T’s Jason Strong joined us on Wisconsin Tonight with some tips to help a data dilemma.

How Are You Using Data?

First thing's first—it's time to get a feel for how you're consuming data. There are a number of ways to do this, but the best method is to visit your phone's cellular data settings. AT&T and other carriers have data calculators which can help you figure it out.

Another good barometer for data use is your battery. Which apps or services are using the most battery? Chances are they are also consuming a good chunk of data.

WiFi, WiFi, WiFi!!!!

When it comes to limiting your data usage, WiFi is your best friend. Use these networks whenever and wherever possible—but only if you trust the WiFi network. Accessing email or bank info through an unfamiliar network is risky, especially when you're traveling, and can end up costing you more than overshooting your data plan ever would.

But it's not enough to simply connect to a trusted WiFi network and hope for the best. You should manually go through all your apps and determine whether or not you want them using cellular data—this will prevent unwanted data usage when you leave a WiFi network but still have some apps running.

If you have an Apple phone, here’s a big tip:

With the newer models, the phone is automatically turned on to Wi-Fi Assist.

It uses your cellular data when the Wi-Fi signal weakens.

To opt out, go to Settings, Cellular, scroll all the way to the bottom. Toggle off Wi-Fi Assist.

Update Apps Using WiFi Only

Turn off cellular data for all automatic downloads.

There aren't many reason why you would use cellular data instead of WiFi to update an app, so just go ahead and turn this option off.

Turn Off Background Data

Background Data not only drains your battery, it can consume a good chunk of your data plan without you even realizing it. For that reason, it's one of the more insidious sources of data consumption.

What is Background Data? Background Data is used to process and sync apps like Facebook or email, allowing you to receive updates without having to actually load the program. Its value is somewhat marginal, and in most cases you can do without it. The thing is, though, a lot of devices will have Background Data on as the default setting.

Change In-App Settings

From Location Services to Notifications, most apps come with their own host of settings—some of which may consume wireless data. Spend some time looking through the settings for your most commonly used apps to make sure you've deselected the services you have no need for.

For example, maybe your food app doesn't need to engage Location Services, since you gave the local pizza place your address anyway. Or maybe one of your photo apps automatically backs up new images to the cloud—you need to make sure it's not doing so using cellular data. Here's how to access your app settings:

Preload Data

If you're expecting a lengthy period without WiFi—maybe for a commute or a night out on the town—consider preloading or "caching" data while you're still connected to a WiFi network.

Most apps offer ways to access data without an internet connection.

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