Going over your data allowance on your iPhone or iPad? Here's how to track usage and prevent extra fees!

iPhone and cellular iPad come with data plans. That's the cost of being "always online". Since the days of unlimited data plans are largely behind us, most of us end up being bound to our carrier's tiered data plans and the overages that come with them. While overages may not be as expensive as they once were, they still cost extra money, and no one likes to pay more than they have to. If you find yourself pushing your data plan's limits, or actually going over it, there are some things you can do in order to monitor your data in the future. That way you can either better control your usage or change your data plan to one that better fits your needs.

How to track your data usage on your iPhone or iPad

iOS has a built-in feature that lets you monitor your data usage. It's not anything fancy but it can get the job done. Each month — or each time your billing cycle starts over — you can just clear the previous month's statistics and track current usage. Here's how:

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or cellular capable iPad.
  2. Tap on Cellular.
  3. You can see under the Cellular Data Usage section how much data you've used since the last time the statistics were cleared.
  4. Now scroll all the way to the bottom and tap on Reset Statistics.
  5. Confirm one more time by tapping again on Reset Statistics.
  6. If you scroll back up, just confirm that you see 0 bytes under the Cellular Data Usage section.

You're good to go to start monitoring data. You'll just have to remember to clear statistics each month. Just hop back into Cellular settings anytime you'd like to view current data usage.

How to track your data usage with DataMan Next

Another option is to use a third party app such as DataMan Next, which is one of my personal favorites. DataMan Next lets you pick what dates your billing cycle starts so it can reset itself without any work on your part. You can also set up alerts for when you hit a certain threshold such as 50% of data used and so on.

Just remember that if you have a family plan, you'll need to take that into account. Dataman Next does let you manually add usage any time you want so just be sure to do that. I typically recommend installing Dataman Next on the device that's eating the most data. For example, if one person on your shared data plan uses 7GB a month and one only uses 200MB, install Data Man on the device using 7GB, then add everyone else's data periodically. It isn't the most elegant solution but it works.

How to control what apps have access to cellular data

An additional step you can take in order to prevent data overages is restrict data hungry apps from eating your cellular data. This means they can still connect to and access the network, but only when connected to WiFi. I typically do this for apps that appear to be data hungry. You can get a pretty good feel for which ones they are by looking at the data usage underneath the app name. The higher the number, the more data hungry they are. Those are the ones you want to restrict cellular access on. Here's how:

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or cellular capable iPad.
  2. Tap on Cellular.
  3. Scroll down and under the Use Cellular Data For section, turn Off apps that you don't want to have access to cellular data.

Still going over your data cap?

Be sure you're really looking at all the apps you have installed and pay special attention to which ones have access to your cellular data. Disable all the ones you possibly can. If you're still having issues after that, it may be time to evaluate whether or not you need to bump up your data allowance.

If you've had data overage issues in the past, what did you do to remedy them? Did you find another awesome way to track your data usage? Let me know in the comments!