Restrict background data in Android or iOS to save money on your monthly mobile bill

Posted by amcink November 17, 2015 0 Comment 4649 views

Background data can be very handy. It gives your phone a sort of intelligence: It seems to know what you want before you even tap the icon to open the app.

That’s the upside.

There’s a downside too, and it maybe a big one, depending on your plan.

The thing to bear in mind is this: App designers are trying to make the best smartphone experience—a news feed that’s already updated when you open the app, a news app that has the latest articles or even videos sitting there, waiting for you, and many other examples—as opposed to making an app that sips as opposed to slurps data.

From a developer perspective, it’s a reasonable approach, really. They just want us to have the best and most seamless experience. However, unless you’re on a plan that puts no cap on mobile data, it can be a costly one for you, the person using the app.

Here’s the one tip you need to save on mobile data without giving up too much of the always-on experience. Truth is, if you’re using LTE (as with the Hack the Plan plan, you’ll barely even notice a difference with background data turned off.

Restrict background data on Android an iOS

There are two options here. First, the easy, all-in method. Second, the more complicated (but not complicated at all) and more tailored approach.

The easy way

Restrict all background data on Android

Open the Settings menu, tap Data usage, tap More (three vertical dots in the top-right corner) and tap Restrict background data

This overrides any app-specific settings. For example, Facebook won’t pull in your newsfeed and have it sitting there, ready for you when you open the app. Instead, apps will update upon you actually interacting with them.

Restrict all background data on iPhone

Open the Settings app and select General. Tap the slider beside Background App Refresh to turn this feature off (the default state is on).

The harder (but really not at all hard) way

Restrict specific apps from using background data on Android

Open the Settings menu, tap Data usage.

Open the Settings menu and tap Data usage.

In the list below the graph, you’ll see a ranked list of which apps are using your data, along with an amount. Tap on an app in the list to see how much of the data is “foreground,” (when you have the app open and are actively using it) and how much is “background,” (the stuff that’s happening without your express knowledge).

If an app is using more mobile data in the background than you deem it’s worth, you can tap the slider to Restrict background data use to on for that app.


Restrict specific apps from using background data on iPhone

Open the Settings app and select General. Below the Background App Refresh toggle referenced in the previous tip, scroll down the list. Tap the toggle switch to on or off, based on whether you want an app to be able to use background data or not.

Restricting iPhone and Android background data, final thought

Whatever your platform of choice, we advise turning background data off entirely and re-enabling it for specific apps on a case by case basis. Using your phone for a while. If you run into resistance or frustration (maybe you’ll discover that you really value receiving push notifications every time you get a new email, for example) you can turn background data back on for the apps and services you want.

You may be surprised at how few you’ll re-enable.

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