Mobile phones make it easy to connect to the Internet, but they can also make it easy for you to outgrow your data plan in a hurry. Try these 8 ways to ration your mobile data usage so you can spend less money on your phone plan.

Keep an Eye on Your Plan With the Data Usage App

Data Usage is an essential app for anyone who wants to stay within their plan’s limits. Data Usage not only tells you how much data you have used, it even tells you what percentage of your plan you have used this month. If you’re only half way through the month and you have already used 90 percent of your plan’s data allotment, the app alerts you to ease up on your data usage.

Data Usage will even send you a push notification if you exceed a certain percentage of your plan. It’s the tech equivalent of someone reminding you how many calories are in a piece of cake before you decide to have a second slice.

Let Opera Mobile Squash Your Data

Opera Mini and Opera Mobile compress data so you save money on your wireless plan. Can the browser you use really make a significant difference in your data rates? Opera says that its Mini browser compresses websites by 90 percent and that Operate Mobile compresses them by up to 80 percent.

Compressing website data is optional with Opera, so you can turn off the feature when browsing the Web with a Wi-Fi connection.

Let Mailsuite Squash Your Email

If you use your mobile device to check email, then it makes sense to rely on a service like Mailsuite to reduce your data usage: Mailsuite can compress your emails by up to 98 percent. The company’s tests show that the average user sees a 93 percent reduction.

Mailsuite’s compression makes it easier for you to use push notifications without going overspending your data plan. If you want push notifications from email and Twitter accounts without burning through your data, this is a good option.

Set Your Email Notification to Manual

You can also set your phone’s email notification feature to manual. This prevents the phone from constantly checking your email, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for updates.

Automatic notifications can eat up a lot of data even for people who don’t get a lot of messages. Every time the phone asks your accounts whether you have messages, it uses a little bit of data. It’s not a lot, but it’s important to monitor if you want to reserve your data for more useful things.

Turn Off Unnecessary Apps

Some apps try to constantly connect to the Internet even when you don’t need them to. They sit there in the background silently destroying your data plan. You might think it’s cool that your phone automatically syncs its contacts and calendar to your other devices, but that convenience could cost you a lot more than you realize.

Take a look at your apps and disable automatic connections for those that aren’t important to you. You can always turn them back on when you want them.

Use Wi-Fi Whenever You Can

Instead of using your cell network to download large files like movies, apps, and pictures, wait until you have access to a Wi-Fi network.

Assuming that you have Wi-Fi at home, plan ahead so that you don’t need to rely on your cellular connection during the day. If you know you will want to play online poker during your lunch break, download the app at home so you can use more data playing games instead of downloading the software you need to play them.

Knowing the Wi-Fi hotspots in your area will make this option easier. Remember that it’s unsafe to access private accounts through a public Wi-Fi network, though. If you’re on a public network, don’t check your bank or credit card accounts. It’s not worth the risk.

Avoid Streaming Except With Wi-Fi

Few things use more data than streaming. Even if you’re just streaming 128 kbps songs, they can add up to several GBs a month. That means you shouldn’t stream music in your car, when you’re cutting the grass, or when you’re trying to kill time before a meeting. You’ll get more out of your data plan by downloading songs at home and listening to them directly from your device.

If you must stream, or you just really want to, stick to the lowest bit rate options available.

The last thing you should do is stream HD movies. Streaming HD movies for 10 hours can take 3GBs off your plan. That’s a waste of data, especially since you’re trying to watch a high-definition movie on a tiny smartphone screen.

Don’t Get Too Attached to Siri

iPhone users who get too attached to Siri could find that the voice recognition software does more than they think. Siri could be eating up your data allotment without the slightest hint.

Of course Siri uses data when you ask a question that requires searching the Internet. According ArsTechnica, the typical Siri query uses about 64kb. That’s a huge amount even for someone who only uses Siri on occasion. It’s much better to talk to your phone than try to use its screen while driving. That’s a no-brainer.

The problem with Siri is that it needs to access the Internet to interpret your speech. That means the software uses data even when you ask it to do something that doesn’t have anything to do with the Web. When you mark an appointment on your calendar or set an alarm, using Siri burns some data.

You don’t have to totally dump Siri, but it makes sense to learn how to use your iPhone instead of relying on voice recognition that will raise your monthly bill.

Have you found other effect techniques to keep your data in check?

Smart mobile technology is changing the way kids are educated: How Mobile Technologies are Changing the Way Education Works

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