Think you need paid apps – to help you manage your data? Think again. There is a host of free apps out there which will do the work for you.
There is an almost staggering number of devices in the home these days. On average, a family has 13 devices now. Research shows that, by 2020, there will be, ironically, 20 devices floating around your property. These days everything from your toaster to your sprinkler system is likely to be connected to the internet if you buy it new. Most will use Wifi data but for those with a lowly prepaid SIM in them, here’s how to nail those costs down.
Cutting the costs of your mobile data
The trick to keeping your cellular data costs down is to start simple.
1. Track what you’re using
The best way to do this is online. Use the portal your phone company offers you – usually something like ‘MyAT&T’ or ‘MySprint’. Many of them have apps. Log in and you’ll see, often on the homepage, an outline of the critical information you’ll need to get better and stretching your allowance further. Look for the date your plan renews, how much you are allocated each month and how much you’ve used so far. It’s all there and usually expressed with a graph or chart so it’s easy to understand.
2. Buy what you need and then a little bit more
Like any commodity, data is cheaper when you buy it in bulk. The best time to buy data is before you need it. If you use up what you’ve bought and try to add more, the same data can cost anywhere from 5 to 10 times as much. In essence, this boils down to picking a plan with more than you need when you sign up – or moving ‘up’ a plan spend level to get the data you need before you need it.
3. Be aware of the key trend
Your data usage is rising every month. Most sources say that average data usage is rising 70%-100% per year. Most don’t realize the trend until it’s too late. If you look through your previous month’s bills in that self-service portal, you’ll see what we’re talking about.
Onboard data management facilities are quite limited for iOS devices, restricted to a single number expressing how much you’ve used (as measured by the device). With Android phones, you’ll see a graph showing your usage this billing period and can set a notification when you get near the limit so you can manage your behavior.
Use Some Free Apps
There are a number of apps on the market, designed to help you manage your data. They’re gratis and especially useful for iPhone users, given the restricted nature of what’s available in settings. Here are the best two – which we recommend.
- Datally from Google: Datally comes with the Google pedigree and some advanced features you won’t get elsewhere. Datally will proactively notify you of nearby WiFi hotspots if you’re about to download a large file, for example, so you can choose which is more important to you –convenience or cost.
- My Data Manager: See image below. My Data Manager is not the most beautiful app in the world but the functionality is robust, it works with both Android and iOS operating systems and it has capabilities that not all of these data management apps on the market have. For example, as you can see below, this app automatically lets you know how much data you are ‘allowed’ to use each day (to keep you on track to your limit.) Where you are running in excess of that allocation, you’ll be warned so you can take the simple steps you need to. (Like buying more data or cutting down on what you’re using.)
Android has, at the moment, far better data management facilities than iOS. This isn’t necessarily a problem. Installing one of the third-party apps we’ve recommended is free and provides Apple users the best of the built-in cellular data management facilities than Android has. Apple will emulate the functionality available in Android soon enough if history is anything to go by.
Data management is a problem you want to engage with now. If you think a dozen devices that each family has in the house is a lot, there are going to be a lot more soon and the overall cost of data is going to rise as a proportion of household bills.