Ways to make your data last longer

Unless you have an unlimited data plan, chances are you’re always trying to curb data use on your smartphone to avoid going over your allowance. Here are four easy ways to reduce data usage on your iPhone or Android.

Prepare maps to use offline

The Google Maps app now allows you to download maps on your phone for later use. This means you can save data by using the map in offline mode, instead of eating up your internet allowance.

To do this:

  1. open the Google Maps app on your phone or tablet
  2. make sure you’re connected to wifi and signed in to Google Maps
  3. search for your destination, such as a restaurant 
  4. at the bottom, tap the white panel that has the name of your destination
  5. select ‘Download’ – this will select a portion of the map to save (it may take some time)
  6. once completed, you will be able to use the map without using data.


Disable auto-play videos

Nothing saps your data like auto-play videos and ads. You may have noticed the way Facebook videos begin playing automatically when you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, regardless of whether you want them to or not.

To avoid autoplay:

  1. open the Facebook app
  2. tap ‘More’ on the bottom right of the screen
  3. scroll down and tap Settings > Account Settings
  4. tap Videos > Autoplay
  5. choose an option.

Disable background app refresh

Even when you’re not using them, some apps like Facebook and email continue to use data. This is thanks to the background app refresh function, which updates the latest information in the app (like your friend’s new status update). Disabling this feature is a good way to save data and means that new information will only load over wifi or when you choose to open the app.

To turn off background app refresh:


  1. open the Settings app from your Home screen
  2. tap on ‘General’
  3. tap ‘Background App Refresh’
  4. toggle the ‘Background App Refresh’ switch to the right to turn it off or simply select the individual apps you  want to turn off.



  1. open the Settings app from the swipe down menu at the top of the screen
  2. tap ‘Data Usage’
  3. tap on the menu button
  4. hit Restrict background data > OK.


Turn off mobile data

If you’re really desperate to stop using data, the easiest way to reduce data use is to turn it off altogether and enable it only when you need it. This is a good last-ditch effort if you’ve already reached your data allowance for the month.

To turn off mobile data:


  1. open the Settings app
  2. tap ‘Mobile’
  3. toggle the ‘Mobile Data’ option off.



  1. open the Settings app from the swipe down menu at the top of the screen
  2. tap ‘Data Usage’
  3. toggle the ‘Mobile Data’ option off.

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Written by Amelia Theodorakis

A writer and communications specialist with eight years’ in startups, SMEs, not-for-profits and corporates. Interests and expertise in gender studies, history, finance, banking, human interest, literature and poetry.

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