14 Ways to Prevent Your iPhone From Running Out of Cellular Data

By @judithaparri on

If you keep on running out of cellular data and receiving warning messages from your mobile network even before the month ends, check on the tips from Macworld. Avoid experiencing the same fate again and the thousands of dollars being charged for these.

1.      Be cautious of photo stream

Photo stream seems harmless with regard to consuming data allowance with Settings -> iCloud -> Photos -> My Photo Stream -> On. It claims to upload new pictures automatically to iCloud devices when connected to Wi-Fi. But this may not be the case as some users realized getting sent photos from a friend's Photo Stream when on 3G network. iOS 7 allows Photo Sharing management. Turn it off in Settings -> Photo and Camera.

2.      Check the apps that use most data

Below each of these apps on the Settings > Cellular page you will see how much data they have been using since you last reset your phone. You can expect that the apps you use frequently will have higher data usage. But any that stands out as guzzling a lot more data that you think should be switched off.

3.      Disable Push notifications

Find out your apps that use Apple Push Notifications service to alert you of data updates in Settings -> Notifications Center -> Scroll the apps and Toggle off. Show Notification Centre and Show on Lock Screen. That is how to stop any app from nagging you with updates. If you don't want to accept any update from Facebook, turn off Notification Center by tapping Facebook and switching off the slider.

4.      Keep tabs on your data usage

Before managing your data usage, keep tabs on your usage by going to Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data Usage and reset this number. It is recommended to have this reset each month, when your network has reset your allowance. Reset your stats by scrolling down to the bottom and tap Reset Statistics. Get the habit of checking on this once in a while to see if you are on target.

5.      Keep Wi-Fi On

 If you have switched Wi-Fi off when were about to connect to a certain Wi-Fi network, your phone may make use of cellular data when it is off for Wi-Fi back home. Easily fix it by forgetting the outside network when it pops up. Tap on the network name and select Forget this Network. As you find Wi-Fi networks around like restaurants, coffee shops, airports, libraries and other public areas, you can get into them for free with BT Wi-Fi app if you are a subscriber of BT broadband. Choose a hotspot with a password to be safe.

6.      No FaceTime on cellular network

Do not use FaceTime on cellular network. Do this by navigating to Settings -> Cellular and Scroll your apps list to ensure FaceTime is off for cellular data. Though FaceTime can be used over 3G, if your data is limited, you may just want normal calls even with lots of free minutes. You might not use FaceTime to contact anyone over cellular. But this will crucially stop anyone to contact you through FaceTime when you are not on Wi-Fi.

7.      Stop background refresh of apps

One of iOS 7 features is your phone's ability to update its OS and apps in the background automatically. This can consume your cellular data if your phone updates when there is no Wi-Fi connection. Go to General -> Background App Refresh -> Switch to Off.

8.      Stop certain apps that use your cellular data

iOS 7 has a new feature that determines which apps can use cellular data. When you almost consume your allowance, go to Settings -> Cellular -> Switch off Apps before you waste cellular allowance to them. Another benefit you get from this is to stop the apps from updating in the background that can consume battery life.

9.      Stop email fetching

You will quickly consume cellular data if you set your phone to fetch data at specific intervals wirelessly and have it set to Push data to iPhone. Make sure you do not select Push. Go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Fetch New data -> Turn off Push. Fetch data manually with Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Fetch New Data -> Manually. This can also benefit battery life.

10.  Stop iCloud docs and data

Stop iCloud documents and data which use cellular data. Go to Settings -> iCloud -> Documents and Data. You disable the apps' ability to save docs and data in the cloud with this. You can also specify which apps to disable iCloud storage or not. Also toggle "Use Cellular Data" to off when you are not connected with Wi-Fi and want to stop document syncing. When you use iWork apps regularly like Keynote or Pages, your phone will be busy syncing big docs over cellular connection - a process you may not like.

11.  Stop iTunes From Accessing Data

If your cellular data is turned on for iTunes or with iTunes Match subscription, data can be annoyingly gobbled. Go to Settings -> iTunes and App Store. Then switch off Cellular Data is off.

12.  Turn off data

When you really need to preserve data and running low, turn off your cellular data temporarily. If you have a week or more until the renewal of your contract, you can manage usage rather than completely running out. Go to Settings -> Cellular Data -> Turn off. This restricts Wi-Fi, Web browsing, email and push notifications. This also can preserve battery life, unlike the Airplane Mode, which preserves battery, but you cannot be contacted by anyone.

13.  Use Safari Reading List

Reading List is the new feature of Safari in iOS 7 that allows Web page download for offline reading, which is great when traveling and about to lose connection. Reading List applies perfectly when you are low of data and want to read articles on your iPhone. Queue the web pages in the Reading List while still on Wi-Fi and read them without use of data. To make this possible, while on Wi-Fi, go to Safari -> Open web page you want to read -> Click Share at the page' bottom -> Add to Reading List.  Article will be downloaded and you can later read it even in Airplane Mode. If you want not to use cellular data during page download of the items in your Reading List on your other device, go to Settings -> Safari -> Use Cellular Data -> Turn off.

14.  Turn Off Facebook Auto Play

Facebook has a feature in its iOS app that streams posted videos automatically when you scroll through the news feed, even if you are not on Wi-Fi. You can change this with Settings -> Facebook -> Settings -> Video -> Auto -play on Wi-Fi only.

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