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manage background data androidIf you’re like most people, you don’t have unlimited data and you don’t want to go over your data cap. Phones with Android Jelly Bean Top 12 Jelly Bean Tips For A New Google Tablet Experience Top 12 Jelly Bean Tips For A New Google Tablet Experience Android Jelly Bean 4.2, initially shipped on the Nexus 7, provides a great new tablet experience that outshines previous versions of Android. It even impressed our resident Apple fan. If you have a Nexus 7,... Read More contain powerful tools for tracking your mobile data usage, setting phone-wide limits, and identifying the apps that are sucking down the most data. You can prevent these apps from using data entirely to save your precious data allowance and avoid cell phone bill shock.

This is all integrated into the latest versions of Android Evolution of Android: From 1.0 to Jelly Bean [Geek History Lessons] Evolution of Android: From 1.0 to Jelly Bean [Geek History Lessons] Read More and doesn’t require any third-party apps. The Data usage screen here was added with Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0, but more features have been added in Jelly Bean 4.1 and 4.2.

Viewing Data Usage

To access the Data Usage screen, open your Android phone’s Settings screen, and tap Data usage under Wireless & Networks. You’ll see a graph displaying how much mobile data all apps on your phone used over a period of time. Specify the “Data usage cycle”  time period that your carrier No Longer Tied to a Cellular Contract? 10 Reasons You Should Switch To An MVNO No Longer Tied to a Cellular Contract? 10 Reasons You Should Switch To An MVNO Are you out of contract with your cellular provider? Rather than upgrading your phone, and signing a new contract, consider switching to a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO. You can save hundreds, even thousands,... Read More uses to determine your monthly data usage and you should see the amount of data you’ve used in the past billing cycle.

As the Data usage screen notes, the information here is measured by your phone and your carrier may measure data usage differently. In particular, if you reset your phone to its factory default settings Dealing with System Problems in Android: Safe Mode, Factory Reset & Restoring Backups Dealing with System Problems in Android: Safe Mode, Factory Reset & Restoring Backups If you've run into a problem on your Android phone or tablet, this method just might help you save it. Read More or switch to a new phone part-way through your billing cycle, you’ll have incomplete information here.

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Setting Mobile Data Limits

You can tap the Set mobile data limit checkbox to restrict the amount of mobile data your phone can use over a billing cycle. For example, if you have a 5GB limit before your carrier starts charging you overage fees, you can ensure your phone doesn’t go above 5GB of data in a month.

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After tapping the checkbox, drag the red line to a point on the graph to specify a limit. As Android recommends, consider using a conservative limit – if you have a 5GB limit and limit your phone to 5GB, you might go a bit over by your carrier’s estimation, resulting in some overage charges. You may want to set the limit to a bit lower than your actual limit.

When your limit kicks in, you’ll receive a notification and mobile data will be disabled for the rest of the data usage cycle you specified.

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Setting a Warning

You can also set a data usage warning by dragging the orange line to a point on the graph. When your mobile data usage reaches the warning level, you’ll receive a notification. This can help you keep track of how fast you’re using data.

For example, if you have a 5GB mobile data limit, you can set a warning at the 3GB level. If you get a warning only a week into the month, you’ll know you need to slow down your data usage to make it through the rest of the month.

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Disabling Data Entirely

You can also disable mobile data entirely by setting the Mobile data slider at the top of the screen to Off. This will prevent your phone from using mobile data anywhere; you’ll only be able to access the Internet on Wi-Fi. This ensures your phone won’t use any mobile  data in the background, and it’s particularly useful if you pay dearly for each bit of mobile data you use on a pay-per-use plan The Future Is Prepaid: How To Save Hundreds On Your Mobile Phone Bill In 3 Easy Steps The Future Is Prepaid: How To Save Hundreds On Your Mobile Phone Bill In 3 Easy Steps Cutting your mobile phone bill in half takes only three simple steps - first, find a carrier that offers discounted plans, such as an MVNO. Second, get an unlocked phone. Third, and optionally, you can... Read More or if you want to make it through the rest of the month and you’re already near your limit.

If you do need to use mobile data, you can always re-enable it from this screen, do whatever you need to do, and then disable it again.

Restricting An App From Using Data

Android helps you view and control which apps can use mobile data. If you scroll down on the Data usage screen, you’ll see a list of apps that used mobile data in the current billing cycle, ordered by the amount of data they’ve used.

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Tap an app to view more information about its data use. “Foreground data” identifies the data the app was using when it was open and you were actively using it. “Background data” identifies the data the app was using in the background. For example, Gmail downloads new emails 5 Excellent Email Apps for Android, Compared 5 Excellent Email Apps for Android, Compared You probably use your smartphone for email, but switching to one of these apps could make that experience a lot better for you. Read More in the background, Twitter downloads new tweets, a podcast app 6 of the Best Podcast Apps for Android 6 of the Best Podcast Apps for Android While Apple offers their own podcast app for iOS, there’s no official Google application for podcasts on Android. Google Listen, a podcast app once developed by Google Labs, languished without updates for years and has... Read More downloads new podcast episodes, and so on.

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If an app is using too much background data and you’d like the app to stop, you can tap the Restrict background data checkbox on this screen. The app won’t be allowed to use mobile data in the background; it will only be able to use mobile data when you’re actively using the app. The app will still be allowed to access the Internet on Wi-Fi networks.

To really control the amount of data an app uses, you’ll want to modify that app’s settings. For example, if Twitter is using too much mobile data, you can open the Twitter app and control how often Twitter downloads new tweets. You could set Gmail to only download new emails when you sync manually. Many apps contain settings that allow you to control how the apps use mobile data.

manage background data android

More Data Usage Settings

You can tap the menu button at the top of the screen to view more options. Note that some of these settings may only be available on the latest version of Android Jelly Bean, 4.2.

  • Data Roaming: Enabling data roaming will allow your phone to use mobile data when roaming, such as when you’re visiting other countries. This can incur extremely high additional charges in some situations – some people have been shocked to see a bill for tens of thousands of dollars – so ensure the roaming fees in an area won’t cause you to go bankrupt before you do this. For example, some carriers offer roaming plans that help decrease the costs of roaming.
  • Restrict Background Data: This option prevents all apps and services from using data in the background. Apps that depend on background data won’t work how you’d expect them to – for example, Gmail won’t automatically download new messages in the background if you enable this option.
  • Auto-Sync Data: By default, your emails, calendar events, and contacts automatically sync in the background. You can disable this to prevent background data usage, but you’ll have to manually sync (for example, by tapping the Sync button in the Gmail app to sync your emails).
  • Show Wi-Fi Usage: Enable this option and you’ll see a Wi-Fi tab on the Data usage screen. You can then see which apps used the most data on Wi-Fi. This can be useful if you have a home Internet connection with bandwidth limits.
  • Mobile Hotspots: If you’re tethering your Android phone or tablet to another device, you can specify Wi-Fi networks that your Android will treat as mobile data. This is particularly useful on tablets. For example, if you have an Android tablet and you’re tethering it to your phone, you can open the Data usage screen on the tablet, tap Mobile hotspots, and identify the phone’s Wi-Fi connection as a mobile data connection. You can then use the Data usage screen on the Android tablet to monitor and control your tablet’s use of the tethered connection as if it were a standard mobile data connection.

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Do you have any other tips for decreasing your data usage Zombie Android Phone Devouring All Your Data? Shoot It In the Head With 11 Free Tips & Tricks Zombie Android Phone Devouring All Your Data? Shoot It In the Head With 11 Free Tips & Tricks For anyone with a limited data cellular plan, data consumption can become incredibly expensive, very quickly. Overage fees generally cost hundreds of dollars a month - and your phone secretly uses data without your knowledge,... Read More ? Share them in the comments!

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