While some of us may have been grandfathered into unlimited data plans from years ago, the majority of us still have to deal with the stinginess of large mobile carriers limiting how much data we can access while at the same time making hundreds of dollars off of each of us per year.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways of reducing your data use on your smartphones, ensuring that you don’t go over your data limits and have to pay insane fees or have your data use capped. Here are some of the ways to save data on your Android device.

Restrict App Background Data

Screenshot_20160306-210728Many apps refresh when you’re not even using them, ensuring that when you do return to using the apps, they’re able to offer up to date and refreshed information. Of course, there is a drawback – that background refreshing uses up quite a bit of data – data which could be saved when you may not be using that app much anyway.

To restrict background apps in general, you can can head to Settings > Data Usage > Restrict Background Data, or, alternatively, you can restrict data use on an app by app basis by heading to Settings > Apps, then pressing on the app you want to restrict and pressing Restrict app background data.

Disable App Auto-Update

Screenshot_20160306-211418Another process that happens in the background is that apps update automatically. This is fine when you’re on a Wi-Fi network, but when you’re on a cellular network, you don’t want to be downloading updates for large mobile games. Restricting when apps auto-update is one of the easiest ways to save data use.

To ensure that apps aren’t updating on their own when you’re connected to a cellular network, head to the Google Play Store, then go to Settings, where you will see an option for app auto-updates. From here you can choose to either not auto-update apps, auto-update apps at any time, or only auto-update apps from Wi-Fi. The best option is to only auto-update apps over Wi-Fi, ensuring that your apps update themselves but at no charge to you. Alternatively you can choose to never auto-update, and you can update your apps manually.

Download Music To Your Device

Screenshot_20160306-214408Music streaming services are great, especially if you’re a music lover. Unfortunately, when you’re streaming music on a cellular network they can take up quite a lot of data. How can you get around this? Well, most major music streaming service offer users a way to download playlists to their device, basically meaning that the user can download their favorite music to their device over Wi-Fi, and then not have to worry about streaming it later, taking up valuable data.

The way to do this varies widely depending on which streaming service you’re using, but on Google Play Music, it’s very easy indeed. Simply head to the app and go to the playlist you want to download, then press on the pin button, which will download that music to your device.

Limit Apps That Use A Lot Of Data

Screenshot_20160306-215032Sometimes, unfortunately, you’re going to have to monitor apps on an app-by-app basis, identifying which apps are using the most data. While in some cases you might want to go back to the first tip and restrict app background updates, in some cases you might want to simply delete the app altogether.

To check how much data apps are using, go back to Settings > Data Usage, where you will see an app-by-app list of how much data is being used. Then you can decide whether or not apps are worth keeping, ideally cutting back on your data use in general.

Compress Pages On Chrome

Screenshot_20160306-215418If you’re a web junkie like me, Google Chrome is probably pretty high on the list of apps that take up a lot of data, but you most likely don’t want to get rid of the app because, as your default web browser, it would seriously hinder how you use your mobile device. Thankfully there are ways of reducing how much data Chrome takes up.

Compressing web pages on Chrome may make web pages load a little slower, but it will, in turn, ensure that much less data is being used. What’s more is the fact that it only slows things down a little, and it’s very easy to get used to.

To compress Chrome web pages, simply head to Chrome, then tap Settings, and go down to Data Saver. Turn the feature on, and a lot of data will be saved.

How have you managed data limitations on your smartphone?  Let us know in the comments below, or by starting a new discussion in the PCMech Forums.