How much data do I need?

Here's how to pick the right data plan and avoid those unnecessary bills...
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How much data do I need?

What's the right amount of monthly data for you?

The amount of monthly data you need really depends on what you use your phone for.

If you need it for work, the chances are you’ll be sending emails and browsing the web. For that type of use, a 500MB allowance should be enough.

If you use your phone for leisure – things like streaming music, videos and games – then 2GB data is probably the minimum amount you need a month, and even then you’d need to be careful with video streaming.

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How can you save data?

If you've got a nagging feeling that you might be using mobile data needlessly, here are a few good housekeeping tips for you. Stick to these, and you may well find that you need less data than you originally thought...

1. Be wary of auto-play videos

Do you love social media? If so, you should beware of those videos that play automatically on Facebook and Twitter. Because they're steadily eating away at your data allowance, even if the volume isn’t turned on.

2. Downloading attachments on emails

Some of the emails you receive on a daily basis will come with videos, songs, GIFs and images built into them. And when you open them up, you download the lot. Thankfully you can turn this data-draining nightmare off...

Android: You should be asked by Gmail if you want to ‘Show pictures’ when you open an email. If you select this, it will ask you if you always want to see images from this sender. If this doesn’t happen, go to Gmail’s Settings > select an account > Data usage.

iOS: Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > turn off Load Remote Images. Unfortunately, this may not work for all emails, depending on sender. If you think this might be the cause of your data haemorrhaging, try waiting until you’re connected to Wi-Fi before you open emails with the paperclip icon to see if they really are to blame.

3. Cut down on streaming services

This might sound like an obvious one, but streaming stuff when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi is a big data pull. If you’re a Netflix-addict, and you’re dead set on binging on your favourite show while not connected to Wi-Fi, you've can lower the quality so it doesn’t use up as much data. If you're an Android user you've now got another data saving option - downloading your shows to watch offline. Check out this article to find out how to do this:

How to save Netflix shows to a MicroSD card.

When it comes to the likes of Spotify, you can lower the streaming quality by going to Settings > Music Quality or save playlists offline, so you can listen to them wherever you like.

4. Turn off auto updates

Sometimes smartphones choose to update themselves and their apps when they see fit. If you’re connected to Wi-Fi, this won’t be a problem, but if it’s happening when you’re out and about, you could see a draw on data. Here's how to sort it:

Android: Google Play > three dots > Settings > Auto-update apps

iOS: Settings > iTunes & App Store > Automatic Downloads

5. Monitor your usage

Keeping tabs on how much data you’re using will give you a good indication as to which apps are to blame. You can track this on Android by going to Settings > Data Usage (pictured above), and you can also set notifications so you know when you’re nearing your data limit.

If you’re an iPhone user, we’d recommend you download My Data Manager from the App Store. It's free, and also available for Android users from the Google Play Store. This will give you a comprehensive breakdown of your data allowance.

You can also check out your network supplier’s app. If it's any good, it should give you some useful data stats for you to mull over.

If you've got any data saving advice of your own, let's hear them. Share your top tips below.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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