Have limited 3G data on your iPhone or iPad and want to know how to conserve it as best as you can? Get that dreaded "You've used up 80% of your data for the month" message and there are still weeks to go before your next billing cycle? Overage charges are probably the most expensive expensive items a carrier can bill you for so stay with us after the break to find out how to best conserve your data!

If you're worried about conserving your precious data the first thing you need to know is how to track how much data you are actually using. Unfortunately, only your carrier is considered 100% accurate when it comes to data tracking but if you just want a general idea you can use the iPhone's built-in data usage monitor.

Check your data usage

First it's a good idea to keep an eye on how much data you're using:

Now, on with the conservation...

Death by streaming

The biggest usage of cellular data is media streaming, especially video. If you have a serious YouTube -- or whatever site -- video streaming addiction wait until you're on Wi-Fi to feed it. Many sites now offer streaming HTML5 video for iPhone, from news to video podcasts to entertainment. All of them will chew through your data cap in no time. Learn to avoid them when out and about!

The same goes for audio. If you're streaming Pandora, internet radio, or podcasts it might sound small to start but will quickly add up.

Other things to avoid

  • Anything that streams. We can't stress that enough!
  • Online gaming. All those graphics are costing you data!
  • Google Maps. The map tiles are being downloaded.
  • App Store. Even though apps are capped at 20MB for cellular data, start downloading a bunch of 20MB apps and you'll feel the pain.


Once you've gotten streaming under control, conserving data becomes pretty much about how to turn off Settings and shut down apps that use up data, especially those that run in the background. Here are some tips:

  • Turn off push email. It's small but it adds up. Switch to fetching email in manual mode. Go to Settings: Mail, Contacts, Calendar : Fetch New Data and set it to Manually.
  • Turn off push notifications. Same deal. Go to Settings: Notifications and set them to off.
  • Turn off Cellular data unless you absolutely need it. This will prevent anything from running in the background and adding to your overages. Go to Settings: Cellular Data and turn it to off.

Texting is fine, MMS, Visual Voice Mail isn't

SMS/Texting doesn't use data so don't worry about using them when your data usage is at its limit. However, MMS and Visual Voice Mail use data to transmit pictures, videos, and audio. Stop using them if you're close to your limit!

Upgrade your data plan if you need to

It's important to be realistic. If you are constantly finding yourself getting billed for extra data use every month it may be a better idea just to upgrade to a bigger data plan. Try to talk to the retention department. While not always the case they can generally give you better deals then regular customer service reps.

Hope this has helped you out, and if you have any other ideas for conserving your iPhone data usage let me know in the comments!

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