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Restrict background data: how to reduce your data usage in Android

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Quick tips to get the most from your phone, your favorite apps and your Ting service. No fluff. Just the tips.

Restrict background data

Restrict background data and save money

At Ting, we like to think that anyone can save on their mobile bill by changing their mobile habits. One big way to save is to ask yourself if you can restrict background data and limit how much mobile data you use every month.

It’s worth knowing that despite your best efforts, some apps continue to use data in the background even while you don’t have them open. There are many Android apps that, without your knowledge, will go ahead and connect to your cellular network even when the app is closed.

Background data usage can wrack up quite a bit of MB. The good news is, you can reduce data usage. All you have to do is turn off background data. We’ll show you how to restrict background data on your Android phone and cut any lingering data usage.

Wrangle your usage and save big. Some people spend as little $20 a month on one phone. Now there’s a smartphone plan that makes sense. Reducing background data is a great place to start.

What is background data?

Basically, background data means that an app is using data even when you’re not actively using the app. Sometimes called background syncing, background data can keep your apps updated with the latest notifications like status updates, Snapchat stories and Tweets.

The bad news is, it still comes with a monthly mobile data cost.

What uses data on my phone?

Here’s the deal: pretty much any time you’re online and you’re not using Wi-Fi, you’re using mobile data.

Mobile data is different from Wi-Fi. While Wi-Fi is a limited range network whereas mobile data uses the same network as the cell towers that let you make calls. You can use mobile data as long as you have cellular coverage. Phone calls and texts minutes are different from mobile data, and are billed differently on Ting.

Mobile data is reserved for the stuff of the Internet: surfing, social media, email, watching video and more. Check out our complete guide on mobile data to learn more.

What is background data and foreground data?

There’s two main types of data usage. Background data and foreground data. Foreground data means you’re actively using data in an app, you’re sending a tweet, you’re watching a Snapchat or you’re streaming a video.

Background data, on the other hand, refers to data that the app uses when you’re not actively doing anything with the app.

Does background app refresh use data?

Apps refresh in the background to regularly check for notifications. This means, when you get an email, message or Tweet, it’s delivered right to your device, whether you’re on Wi-Fi or mobile data.

When you turn off background data and prevent apps from apps refreshing in the background, you won’t get any notifications. You’ll have to open the app to check and see if you have any notifications.

What does restrict background data mean?

It’s pretty simple. Restricting background data means reducing your background data to a bare minimum. When you turn off an app’s ability to run in the background, you get one step closer to cutting your data use altogether and controlling your phone bill.


How to turn off background data on Android

We’ll walk you through how to turn off background data for your apps on Android. This will stop any background app refreshes, so don’t forget, you’ll have to actively open your apps to retrieve any notifications.

 

Looking to save data on your iPhone? Here’s how to control which apps use your cellular data.

The usual suspects

Most popular apps will default to running in the background. Background data can be used even when your device is in standby mode (with the screen turned off), as these apps are constantly checking their servers through the Internet for all sorts of updates and notifications.

Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat. All these apps can run in the background if you don’t disable their ability to do so.

How to stop apps from running in the background

The Data usage section in Android Settings lets you view the amount of data used by each specific app. If you notice an app using more background mobile data than you’d like it to (Snapchat comes to mind), you can restrict it from accessing the Internet till you’re back in a Wi-Fi covered area. If you’re looking to conserve your bandwidth and lower that monthly phone bill, this feature is definitely worth checking out.

Step 1

Open Settings and tap Data usage.

restrict background data

Step 2

Scroll down to view a list of your Android apps sorted by data usage (or tap Cellular Data usage to view them). Tap an app to check out detailed usage statistics. This is where you can restrict background data for individual apps.

restrict background data

Step 3

Tap the app(s) you don’t want to connect to mobile data and select Restrict app background data.

Restrict background mobile data


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Android or iOS?

For more info, check out Google’s Optimize data usage help article. Looking for ways to reduce mobile data usage?

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