11 ways to trick Android into using less data

Whether you’re actively using them or not, apps love to eat up data. They’re checking for updates, running ads, and refreshing your user content in the background. The good intentions are there, but most times, the conveniences these practices bring don’t outweigh the depleted data reserves. It’s time to tame those apps.

Update apps on Wi-Fi only
Head to the Google Play store and tap Menu > Settings > Auto-update apps. Here, be sure that “Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only” is selected. You also have the option to choose “Do not auto-update apps,” but it’s less preferable, since you’ll have to remember to update apps manually.

Configure in-app data settings
To give you a fluid experience, many apps ping servers in the background to keep their content updated. For instance, Google+ backs up your photos and videos as they’re captured, while Mint can be configured to refresh banking data.

These conveniences are great, but they come at a cost, so dive into the app settings and disable the data-sucking options you don’t absolutely need.

Restrict background data
Even apps that don’t allow you to fine-tune data settings could still be loading background data. In Ice Cream Sandwich and later versions of Android, one way to find out which ones are guilty is to go to Settings > Data Usage, and scroll down to reveal a list of apps with accompanying data usage stats.

Then, tap an app to view its usage data, and take a look at the two numbers next to the pie chart. “Foreground” refers to the data used when you’re actively using the app, while “Background” reflects the data used when the app is running in the background.

If you notice an app is using too much background data, scroll down to the bottom and check “Restrict background data.” Just note that this setting overrides any conflicting app behavior (like an app that would otherwise update your bank account info every few hours).

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