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Reduce and manage data usage

Data usage is the amount of data that your device uploads or downloads in a period. You can check your data usage in your device's Settings app. You can see how you use data, and you can change the settings to make sure you’re not using data unnecessarily.

Note: Some of this information may not apply to all devices because Android isn't exactly the same on every device. These instructions are for devices with Android 5.0 and up. See what version of Android you have.

Some things to keep in mind about your data settings

  • If you don't have mobile data, you'll see only Wi-Fi settings.
  • If you're using a tablet with multiple users, data usage settings apply to all users, but only the tablet owner can see the settings options.
  • If you're using an Android One device, you can assign only one SIM card to your mobile data connection.

Check your data usage

You can check how much data you use. You can also set a data usage warning or limit to help manage your data usage. If your device has more than one SIM card, you can use the tabs at the top of the data usage screen to check each SIM card's information.

Important: The data usage you see in your device’s Settings app is measured by your device; your carrier could count data usage differently. If you go over your plan’s data usage limit, your carrier could charge you fees. Check your plan to see your data limits.

Check data usage (current, by time period, or by app)

To check how you much data you use on your device:

  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings .
  2. Tap Data usage.
    • In the Mobile tab, you can see how much data you use on your carrier's data network or networks. If more than one is displayed, tap the tabs at the top of the screen to switch between them.
    • To see Wi-Fi usage, tap More More. Next to "Show Wi-Fi usage," check the box. In the Wi-Fi tab on the main screen, your device will show how much data you use over Wi-Fi connections. If you don't have mobile data, you'll see only Wi-Fi settings.
  3. You can check these settings for mobile or Wi-Fi use:
    • Check current data usage
      By default, you’ll see the date range of your most recent data usage cycle. You can see how much data you’ve used in that period by looking between the two vertical white lines on the graph.
    • Check data usage from different time periods
      Move the vertical white lines on the graph to the period that you want to view. Then check to see how much data you used during that period.
    • Check total data usage
      Below the graph, you can see the total data usage for the period you select.
    • Check data usage by app
      Below the graph, you can see how much data each of your apps is using. Apps appear in order of how much data they’ve used.
Set data usage warning

You can set a warning to alert you when your device uses a certain amount of data. This feature is available only if you have mobile data.

To set a data usage warning:

  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings .
  2. Tap Data usage.
  3. In the graph that shows your data usage, drag the line by its right side to the level where you want to get a warning.
  4. When your data usage reaches this level, you'll get a notification on your device.
Set data usage limit

You can set a limit to the amount of data that your device uses. When your data usage reaches that limit, mobile data on your device will turn off automatically and you'll get a notification. This feature is available only if you have mobile data.

Note: Many features on your device might not work correctly when data is turned off.

To set a data usage limit:

  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings .
  2. Tap Data usage.
  3. Turn on Set cellular data limit or Set mobile data limit.
  4. When the dialog box appears, read the message, and tap OK.
  5. Drag the line at the top of the graph by its right side to the limit you want to set.
  6. When your data usage reaches this level, mobile data on your device will turn off automatically and you'll get a notification.

To turn mobile data back on:

  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings .
  2. Tap Data usage.
  3. Switch off Set cellular data limit or Set mobile data limit.

Change your data usage settings

You can adjust your data usage settings to make the most of the data that you use. Some apps use data only when you’re using them. Other apps use data in the background, even if you’re not actually using the app. You can reduce data usage by changing how and when apps you use access data.

Turn off data over mobile network

You can conserve data usage by turning off access to data while you’re on your mobile network. If you do this, you won’t be able to get any data over your mobile network, but you’ll still be able to use data when you connect to a Wi-Fi network.

To turn off data access over your mobile network:

  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings .
  2. Tap Data usage.
  3. Tap the "Cellular data" or "Mobile data" switch. Tap OK

To turn mobile data back on, tap the "Cellular data" or "Mobile data" switch again.

Turn off auto-sync or restrict background data

Auto-sync lets your apps automatically sync with the data on your device. You can save data usage by turning off auto-sync. If you do this, you'll need to sync your apps manually whenever you need them to use data on your device.

Be aware that if you restrict background data, some apps and services won't work until you're connected to Wi-Fi. 

Follow these steps based on your version of Android:

On Android 5.0 and higher
  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings .
  2. Tap Data usage.
  3. Tap More More.
  4. Tap Restrict background data.
  5. When the dialog box "Restrict background data?" appears, tap OK.

To turn background data back on, tap More More and then Allow background data.

On Android 4.4 and lower

Turn off auto-sync

  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings.
  2. Tap Data usage.
  3. Tap More More .
  4. Next to "Auto-sync data," tap the box.
  5. When the dialog box "Turn auto-sync data off?" appears, tap OK.

Turn auto-sync back on

Follow the steps above. When the dialog box "Turn auto-sync data on?" appears, tap OK.

To manually sync an app

Open the app you that want to sync. Follow the on-screen prompts.

See or restrict background data usage by app

Some apps transfer data in the background. This means that an app may download data for future reference when you're not actually using the app.

To reduce your overall data usage, you can restrict background data usage for individual apps. But this can affect an app's performance or make it malfunction. Before restricting data usage here, check whether data usage can be restricted from the app's own settings. You can usually access data usage through an app’s Settings menu.

To view and restrict background data usage by app:

  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings .
  2. Tap Data usage.
  3. Make sure you're viewing the network for which you want to view or restrict app data usage. If more than one is shown, you can switch between them by tapping the tabs at the top of the screen.
  4. Scroll down to find the app whose data usage you want to view. The blue bar for each app shows its total data usage for the cycle displayed above the graph near the top of the screen.
  5. To see more data usage details for an app, tap its name.
  6. You’ll see a graph showing just this app's data usage for the specified cycle. Below the main graph, a pie chart breaks out foreground versus background data usage for this app.
    • "Foreground" data usage means how much data an app uses when you’re using the app.
    • "Background" data usages means how much data an app uses when you’re not using the app.
  7. To stop background data usage for this app, check the box next to "Restrict background data."
  8. Read the message that appears.
  9. Tap OK.
Restrict data usage on mobile hotspots

If you use Wi-Fi, you can set your device to restrict data usage on Wi-Fi networks that are mobile hotspots. This help you get the most from your data usage by preventing apps from using background data or large downloads on these networks.

Follow these steps based on your version of Android:

On Android 5.0 and up
  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings .
  2. Tap Data usage.
  3. Tap More More.
  4. Tap Network restrictions.
  5. Turn on restrictions for the networks available.
On Android 4.4 or lower
  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings .
  2. Tap Data usage.
  3. Tap More More .
  4. Tap Mobile hotspots.
  5. Next to the Wi-Fi networks that are your mobile hotspots, check the box to restrict apps from using them for background data or downloading large files.
Turn off data roaming

Data roaming lets your device send data over other carriers’ networks when you leave an area covered by your own carrier’s networks. You can save data usage by turning off data roaming. Keep in mind that using data roaming may be the only way to connect to the Internet in some places.

To turn data roaming on or off:

  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings.
  2. Under "Wireless & Networks," tap More and then Cellular networks.
  3. Turn "Data roaming" on or off.

Turn data usage on or off

You can turn mobile data on or off in the Settings app. If it's off, you can’t use data over your mobile network and many features of your device and apps might not work correctly. You’ll still be able to use data if you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Turn mobile data usage on or off
  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings .
  2. Tap Data usage. If your device has more than one SIM card, you can use the tabs at the top of the screen to control cellular data for each SIM.
  3. Tap the "Cellular data" or "Mobile data" On/Off switch. If you're turning data off, tap OK. If you turn data on for a SIM card that was not previously active, you need to assign cellular data to that new SIM card before continuing.
Insert SIM card for mobile data

Keep in mind that you need to have a SIM inserted in your device to see the mobile data option.

If you're using an Android One device, you need to assign cellular data usage to a SIM before adjusting data usage settings.

Amy

Amy is an Android expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.

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