How to Track Data Usage on Your Android Device

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With unlimited data plans going by the wayside, it's important to pay attention to your data usage to avoid expensive overcharges. Luckily, Android smartphones make it very easy to track and manage your data consumption. Plus, there are many ways to easily cut down on your data usage without too much inconvenience.

To see how much data you use on any given period of time, go into settings and find the data usage option. Depending on your smartphone model and the version of Android it's running, you'll either find this directly in settings or under an option called wireless and networks. There, you can see your usage over the last month and a list of the apps using the most data in descending order. From here, you can change the day of the month that the cycle resets to coincide with your billing cycle, for example. Here, you can also set a data limit, anywhere from zero to as many gigabytes as you'd like. When you reach that limit, your smartphone will automatically shut off cellular data. Some smartphones let you set up an alert when you're nearing your limit. 

Third-Party Apps

You can get even more data about your data using third-party apps. The four majors carriers each offer apps that sync up with your account: myAT&T, T-Mobile My Account, Sprint Zone, and My Verizon Mobile. 

Other popular data management apps include Onavo Count, My Data Manager, and Data Usage. Each lets you set up limits and alerts along with their own distinct features. 

My Data Manager lets you track data usage even in shared or family plans and across multiple devices. Data Usage also tracks Wi-Fi usage, though I'm not sure why you'd want or need to track that. It also tries to predict when you might go over your data allotment based on daily usage. You can set daily, weekly, and monthly data limits too. Finally, Onavo compares your data usage with other users so you can get an idea of how you stack up.

Reducing Your Data Usage

If you find yourself struggling to stay within your data plan, there are a few things you can do. While you may be tempted to simply upgrade your monthly plan, that's not the only answer. With most carriers offering some sort of shared plans, you can team up with your partner or a trusted friend or family member which could save some money. Or, you can try to consume less data. 

First, from the data usage section of your smartphone's settings, you can restrict background data on your apps, either one-by-one or all at once. This way, your apps aren't consuming data when you're not evening using the phone. This may interfere with how the apps work, but it's worth a try. Another easy fix is to use Wi-Fi whenever you can, such as when you're at home or at work. Just beware of unsecured Wi-Fi networks, such as those at coffee shops and other public locations, where your privacy could be compromised. You may want to invest in a hotspot device, like the Verizon MiFi. (I have a prepaid one that I use, mainly when I'm toting my laptop around, but it will work with any Wi-Fi capable device.)

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