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From browsing the web, to streaming videos, to using social media, there are just too many ways to burn through your phone’s data allowance How to Use Less Data (and Save Money on Your Android Phone Bill) How to Use Less Data (and Save Money on Your Android Phone Bill) If you're using an Android phone and want to use less data to save money, these tips will help you out. Read More . Unless you’re lucky enough to have an unlimited plan, there’s a good chance you find yourself rationing your usage at the end of each month.

There are ways to get around the problem. With the right choice of apps, you can reduce how much data you use without having to reduce how much you use your phone. Let’s take a look at some of the best data saving apps for Android.

Opera Max

Opera Max is a VPN app that uses compression to reduce your data usage by as much as 50%. Whenever one of your apps makes a connection to the internet, the connection goes via Opera’s servers. They compress any data before it downloads to your phone. It monitors both mobile and Wi-Fi data, and it works with just about every app, including YouTube.


Opera Max also has a range of privacy functions. As a VPN, it gives you a greater level of anonymity online 6 Logless VPNs That Take Your Privacy Seriously 6 Logless VPNs That Take Your Privacy Seriously In an age where every online movement is tracked and logged, a VPN seems a logical choice. We've taken a look at six VPNs that take your anonymity seriously. Read More , stripping out ad trackers and other potential privacy concerns.

Opera Max is not without limitations. Free VPNs are often not as good as paid alternatives Finally Get a Paid VPN Because Your Free VPN Won't Cut It Finally Get a Paid VPN Because Your Free VPN Won't Cut It VPNs are all the rage, but if you're thinking of going the free route, please reconsider. Free VPN services come with risks that may not be worth taking... Read More , and to get unlimited use, you do have to put up with ads on your charging screen. Plus there’s the question of whether you’re happy to have every data connection on your phone pass through Opera’s servers.
Download: Opera Max (Free)

Opera Browser and Opera Mini

The company also has browsers that work similarly, but only with your web data. Opera Browser has a data saving feature called Opera Turbo. It compresses web pages, including all the content such as images and video.


The browser is Chromium-based, so it renders pages exactly as Chrome does How Do Browsers Display Web Pages, and Why Don't They Ever Look the Same? How Do Browsers Display Web Pages, and Why Don't They Ever Look the Same? Read More , but it has a few extra features not seen in Chrome too. These include a very useful “reflow” function that ensures text always fits within the width of the screen no matter how close you zoom in.

Opera Turbo can compress your web content by up to 50%. If you’re on a very tight data plan, you can use Opera Mini Is Opera Mini's Data Compression Good Enough to Switch? Is Opera Mini's Data Compression Good Enough to Switch? If you're on an older Android, the new Opera Mini is optimized for aging hardware and software. Can Opera actually mount a comeback with this new browser? Let's find out. Read More instead. This reduces web pages to 10% of their original size, although you may lose some functionality in certain sites as a result.

The advantage of using a browser for data compression is that you only need to use it when you want to save data. You can use your normal browser when you’re on Wi-Fi, and only switch to Opera when you need to.

Download: Opera Browser (Free) and Opera Mini (Free)

Facebook Lite

Most people use Facebook, and most use it with the official Facebook app. It isn’t the most easy-going app when it comes to data use. The Facebook app will be constantly connecting in the background and bombarding you with notifications How to Disable Facebook and Other Notifications in Chrome How to Disable Facebook and Other Notifications in Chrome Read More throughout the day.

Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for the official client. There are a huge number of alternative Facebook apps The Best Third-Party Facebook Apps for Android Compared The Best Third-Party Facebook Apps for Android Compared Don't like the official Facebook app? That's okay -- there are some solid alternatives. Read More that are worth investigating.

Facebook Lite is an official client designed for regions where lower spec phones and very limited data plans are commonplace. It isn’t available if you aren’t in one of those regions (here’s the link, if you want to try). It will reduce your data usage, and it also performs better on less powerful devices.

Otherwise, check out Friendly for Facebook. This free app is an enhanced wrapper for the mobile version of the Facebook website. This means it has all the expected features, like notifications and Messenger support, but it goes much easier on both your battery and your data plan.

Twitter also has countless third party clients that are more data friendly. With Snapchat and Instagram, though, you will need to stick to the official apps.

Download: Facebook Lite (Free) and Friendly for Facebook (Free)

NetGuard – No Root Firewall

One surefire way to burn through your data allowance is to install apps that want to constantly go online to sync and download stuff. The trouble is, it isn’t possible to know which apps are going to do this. Since Android 6.0 Marshmallow, apps have not had to explicitly request the internet permission, meaning any app can go online without you knowing.

Android offers ways to reign these apps in, but they’re not especially easy to use. Nougat has a basic Data Saver feature 7 Reasons You'll Want to Upgrade to Android Nougat 7 Reasons You'll Want to Upgrade to Android Nougat If you're thinking about making the jump to Android 7.0 Nougat, maybe these features could convince you. Read More that enables you to prevent apps from going online (go to Settings > Data usage > Data saver). On older versions of the operating system, you need to do it manually for each app — go to Settings > Apps, choose the app, then select Data usage > Restrict app background data.

Both of these methods only work to prevent background data use and only restrict mobile data. A better option is to use NetGuard, a firewall app that gives you complete control over which apps can access the internet and when.

It’s easy to use. Simply grant or revoke access to mobile, Wi-Fi, or roaming data for each app. Then, fine-tune your settings by determining whether you want to allow access at all times, or just when you’re actually using the app.

It’s an effective way of preventing apps — especially things like news and weather apps — from automatically syncing in the background. They’ll only update when you need them to.

Download: NetGuard (Free)

My Data Manager

My Data Manager is an app that enables you to keep an eye on all aspects of your phone’s data usage. Like the built-in Android tools, it lets you see which apps are using data, and how much they’re using. But it goes much further than that.

You get the choice between a persistent notification or a home screen widget 6 Handy Android Widgets for Your Homescreen 6 Handy Android Widgets for Your Homescreen The Android homescreen is a central hub for your most used apps and folders. It is also a great location for placing widgets that provide a quick overview of what is going on in the... Read More . Both update in real time to show you how much of your allowance is being used.

If you’re on a very restrictive plan, this will help ensure you don’t get hit by any excess charges. Especially with the help of a set of configurable alarms that will not only warn you when you get close to your limit, but will also give you a heads-up if your current usage patterns are likely to push you over.

Handily, My Data Manager doesn’t just track mobile and Wi-Fi data usage — it also tracks roaming data No Roaming Fees: How Traveling Internationally Can Be Cheaper No Roaming Fees: How Traveling Internationally Can Be Cheaper There's no reason to spend a dime on roaming fees. Yet, I constantly hear about people forking over their hard-earned money to talk with friends or family while traveling abroad. Read More use. This is usually both the most limited and the most expensive option. So even if you’re on an all-you-can-eat plan at home, the app is still useful when you aren’t.

Download: My Data Manager (Free)

More Ways to Save Data

You can make sure your data plan goes as far as possible with the right choice of app. Along with these, there are a few other techniques you can use to avoid wasting data:

You should be able to make your data last the full month with these tips and apps, thereby reducing your chances of being hit by excess charges Use This Easy Method to Avoid Data Overages on Android Use This Easy Method to Avoid Data Overages on Android If you need to keep a close eye on your Android data usage, here's a built-in tool to make sure you don't use too much. Read More .

What data plan are you on? Do you have any tricks to make it last as long as possible? Share your tips with us in the comments below.

Image Credit: Daniel Krason via Shutterstock.com

Originally written by Chris Hoffman on June 30th, 2014.

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  1. HH
    March 16, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Opera Max consumed nearly 700MB of my data in a couple of hours after installation even though I wasn't doing much online. I found out it was Opera Max from my phone's data monitor.

  2. Rich
    March 15, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I would love to see something like this for iPhone. Our options aren't as high, especially since.we don't have Facebook Lite, Opera browser (we do have mini), or Opera Max.

  3. joy
    March 22, 2016 at 5:57 am

    mobile operators doing cheating for data consumption.

  4. Devin Chandrapala
    April 8, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Why can't Opera Max run on Wifi? i mean, i've got a really limited wifi connection and i try to save as much as I can. For web browsing I use a browser called Puffin. It uses the same tech as Opera Turbo (Passing everything through a compression server) But i want a way to save data that i use through apps. For example Social Networks, IM's, VOIP's, Games that ask for internet connection and all.

    So is there a way to run Opera Max on Wifi?

  5. Melisa Lissa
    March 9, 2015 at 7:04 am

    Rooted Android? A firewall like AFWall+ and an add blocker like AdAway saves you tons of data. Depending on whihc apps you use and whihc sites you surf, ads and analytics can gobble up more data than the useful content does.

  6. Brett Russell
    February 3, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Send all my data to Onova/Opera so they can use it as they see fit, I dont think so. We run a MobilePOS solution, and if we see the data coming from these services, we decline it and ask the clients to remove the apps. Its just too big a security and privacy issue for us (or anyone in our opinion).

    Do your research first and know what you are getting into before you do this.

  7. Janet Blessing
    January 15, 2015 at 9:44 am

    maybe i will try out opera mini

  8. Janet Blessing
    January 15, 2015 at 9:43 am

    @ pilot,so true. samsung phone browser can sap your data outrageously. i switched to firefox, it consumes data but on the average. the issue i have with it is that, i cant comment on some of my favorite blogs. so i tried uc browser, it solve the issue of comment by data consumption is extremely outrageous. I dont even know what to do.

  9. sugandan
    December 6, 2014 at 6:20 am

    google the most

  10. Pilot
    November 30, 2014 at 12:24 am

    I been using Opera mini for long time, recently switched to an android device. Tried four browsers till now.
    Default samsung browser, almost useless to me.
    FF doesn't care about data usage for now, I heard they are working on there compression system.
    Chrome compressing little bit, would be better if it could reduce data usage more.
    Next Opera mini compress a lot and save most of the usage. Best one I have used, while I'm on road connected to 2/3G

  11. AB
    October 1, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Check out the latest version of Opera Max! Now even better! http://opr.as/i0y

  12. Ashesh Shrestha
    September 19, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Thanks! Reducing data usage on google chrome is so useful most of the times!

  13. George
    September 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Yep the Opera max is really data saving VPN

    To make sure you get maximum out of the data plan Opera mini 7.6 for android is now available here is the link to scoop http://www.crawlerguys.com/download-opera-mini-7-6-android-with-wi-fi-queue-support/

  14. J.R. Gracen
    July 26, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    I use the Llama app to automatically turn wifi on when I arrive at home or work, and turn wifi off when I leave. Makes sure I don't use cell data by forgetting to turn wifi on, and helps me not drain my battery by turning wifi off when it is not needed.

  15. Arnav B
    July 8, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Thats so useful regarding how to reduce mobile internet data usage !! http://mobileupdates.org/

  16. Moo
    July 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    I've never seen an ad on Opera Max even though it has asked me to recharge a bunch of times. I'm in Toronto, Canada. Don't know if that makes a difference. Maybe no local business is interested?

  17. Jennifer
    July 2, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I used Opera Max for about a month, but I can't tell you if it saved me any data because it messed with my Wi-Fi connection at both home and work. Took me forever to figure out why I couldn't connect anymore (it was the VPN). If I could figure out how to make it work with my phone, I'd be very happy...

  18. Ron
    July 2, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Would opera max work best (or would any of them work?) for trying to compress my data while using my cell as a hotspot? Also, which device would I install it on? I use my cell as the "hotspot" and use my tablet to connect to my Hotspot (cell).. So do I put the "compressor on my cell or tablet? Sorry for this" stupid" question.

  19. Nahla D
    July 1, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    When I am on limited mobile data and I browse, I always use the UC Browser Mini version. It's actually and faster better than my stock Opera browser.

  20. android underground
    July 1, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Rooted your Android? Don't forget to use an ad blocker and a firewall to stop phone-home behavior. That can save you a fortune when roaming.

  21. Eking
    July 1, 2014 at 8:14 am

    I think Opera really has the upper hand when it comes to data compression. Opera Mini claims to have up to 90 % data saving, meanwhile I have about an 80% saving rate with the Opera Mobile browser's "Turbo Mode" enabled.

  22. Rudi Pittman
    July 1, 2014 at 2:24 am

    Onavo also doesn't work if you have a device tethered to your phone which is when you most want data compressed.

  23. Corey
    June 30, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    I have to say, I don't think I would be comfortable using Onavo, especially with the purchase by Facebook. If you're not the buyer, you're the product.