The cost of mobile data is on the rise instead of decreasing as cost of doing business for these telcos increase. If my memory serves me correctly, more than a year ago, you could get 400MB of monthly data from Vodafone for just 5 Ghana Cedis. Now, you need 10 Ghana Cedis to get 450 MB of monthly data. This is not unique to Vodafone Ghana only, but other telcos as well. On the other hand some smartphone apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram continue to use much data, which means that if mobile data is an issue for you, then you should find ways and means to minimise usage. So, those who are interested, these tips are for you.
1: Use a web browser to access Facebook instead of the app
If you check your Data Usage of apps under settings of your Android phone, you will likely find Facebook in the top 3. If you are a heavy user of Facebook and WhatsApp, chances are that WhatsApp will be no. 1, followed by Facebook under Data Usage. The reason why Facebook uses so much data is because, the app downloads your timeline videos and pictures to local storage for speedy access – this is what is technically called, caching. Using a browser on your phone such as Chrome or UC browser to access Facebook will reduce your mobile data usage. Alternatively, you can use the Facebook Lite app, which uses less data compared to the Facebook app itself.
Every Android Smartphone has Data Usage under settings, which only counts cellular data – it does not apply to WiFi data. So, if you are using WiFi data to access Facebook, it is not counted. And if you use WiFi to access these apps, data may not be an issue for you then.
2. Turn off media auto-download for WhatsApp
When you install WhatsApp for the first time for use, media auto-download is turned on by default for Audio, Documents, Photos and Videos when using mobile data. What this means is that when people send pictures and videos either directly to you or in a group you belong to, they are automatically downloaded using your mobile data. So if you are in a group where people send all kinds of media, including videos which are big in size, you can just imagine the effect that has on your mobile data for automatically downloading them. So, if this setting is not turned off for mobile data and assuming 20 videos of average size of 10MB are sent within 2 days for 2 groups you belong to, it means that 200MB is gone in 2 days while the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) laugh to the bank. Some of you probably belong to more than 5 groups, so you can just imagine. The annoying part for groups is that people send these pictures and videos without any description.
So if you are concerned about mobile data and you are a user of WhatsApp, turn off media auto-download when using mobile data under Settings of WhatsApp (Settings -> Data Usage -> When using mobile data). I have this setting turned off and I only download pictures or videos in groups where I am convinced that it will add value to my life. For WiFi, you can leave them at default settings if phone storage is not an issue for you, since every video and picture downloaded occupy space on your phone. In fact, I have even turned off media auto-download for WiFi also and it is not because I don’t have enough phone storage, but it’s because I want to make my life Great Again like President Trump wants to make America Great Again.
3. Turn off Auto-update apps using Mobile Data in PlayStore
Updates for apps using mobile data will consume more data (Settings -> Data Usage -> PlayStore) than Facebook or WhatsApp as such enabling auto-update when you are on mobile data will cost you so much data. You can turn off Auto-update using mobile data in PlayStore settings by making sure Auto-update apps at any time. Data charges may apply is not selected (Settings -> Auto-update apps -> Auto-update apps at any time. Data charges may apply). For users of iPhone/iPad, Windows Phone, etc., similar settings exist. For example, in the settings of iTunes & App Store of Apple, just turn off Use Cellular Data.
I have in recent past mentioned the fact that security is extremely very important in this Age of hacking, hence the need to ensure that your apps are up-to-date. So, how do you ensure your apps are up-to-date and at the same time save on data? There are three options available under Settings in PlayStore for Auto-update apps. The first option is not advisable, i.e. Do not auto-update apps, because it will mean that you have to manually update apps using WiFi data or mobile data. The second option is what you need to turn off to save on mobile data. The 3rd and final option is what you need to select: Auto-update apps over WiFi only, to ensure your apps are automatically updated once you are connected to a WiFi.
Note: Most of the Mobile Network Operators have packages for Social media, but none for updating apps. So while you may get a data package to manage your social media interactions, this is not the case for PlayStore, which is why I consider this tip the most important.
I hope these tips are helpful to you!