Data and how to make the most of it.

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  • Question
  • Updated 2 years ago
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  • (Edited)
This really isn't an idea, rather it's more of a way to conserve your data for those that may be on limited data plans or for those who want to avoid paying for 'mystery' data overage charges. This mini-guide caters specifically to Android devices, though there are similar practices for iPhone, Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

Recently, I've come across a few questions concerning data and the ability to send picture messages and what constitutes as chargeable data and what does not.

First of all, you will need data in order to send a picture message. Koodo's network can detect when you're sending a picture message and it is that portion of data that is not chargeable to you.

However, when you turn on data to send a picture message, any apps or services that are scheduled to download updates will use the data in the background and you will be charged for the data used. Some examples include social media apps that periodically update status or location, synchronization of email and push notifications.

Play Store: Settings

Your best option is to turn off the features that allow for apps to automatically update. The following steps should work on all Android devices and it doesn't matter whether your prepaid or postpaid. The Play Store setting 'Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only' is set as the default option. Don't take my word for it though, check out the settings for yourself just to make sure.

1). Open Play Store from your phone and tap the menu icon in the upper left hand corner of your screen (three stacked horizontal bars) then tap Settings.

2). Under the heading, Auto-update apps, choose either 'Do not auto update apps' or 'Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only'.

3). Install a data enabler/toggle widget on your Home Screen. It's basically an on/off switch so that you can instantly tell when data is enabled or disabled and you won't have to search through pages of settings to turn off mobile data. Works like a charm and I've been using it for a few years now.

Data Enabler Widget

If you have a small amount of data to play with (e.g., 50 or 100 MB) I would suggest choosing 'Do not auto-update apps'. I've never lost a single megabyte of data with this setting. If you have a reliable internet/Wi-Fi network at home, then use the setting, auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only. Again, I've used this setting with zero data loss.

Your Phone

We've covered the Play Store settings, now it's time to take a look at the settings on your phone.

Go to Settings > About device - tap Software updates. If you're looking to conserve data, remove the checkmark from the checkbox to disable checking for software updates automatically as this will use data if the box below it (Wi-Fi only) is not enabled/checkmarked. To check for software updates manually, simply tap 'Update now'.

The second checkbox 'Wi-Fi only' means just what it says, in that software updates will be performed over Wi-Fi only. If the box is left empty (no checkmark), your phone will use mobile data to download software updates, though on some phones you may get a warning before the download commences. Place a checkmark in the box to download software updates over Wi-Fi only.

Worth Noting

If you have both Wi-Fi and mobile data on simultaneously and you get out of range of the Wi-Fi signal, or the source of your internet gets interrupted, your phone will automatically switch from Wi-Fi to using data. It's best to turn off data when its not needed and use the settings mentioned previously, to avoid any unexpected charges.

That's all for now. Enjoy your data and thanks for reading!

Special thanks to Robert Buchanan for suggesting this information become more widely accessible. Thank you, Robert!
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rikkster, Mobile Master

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Posted 4 years ago

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Data Enabler Widget also gives you some peace and quiet in the car. Instantly postpone all those unnecessary notifications but still allow calls and text messages.
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Great Article Rikkster! Simple and very informative :) Thank you both for your help in the community!
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This one deserves the occasional push to the top.
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Kathy Holland

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Thanks Rickster. Will try some of those tips.
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Ron Soper

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Thanks rikkster. I recently upgraded to the Nexus 5 and I'm trying to learn as much as possible about it. Which isn't easy cuz I'm a redneck not a techy. Anyhoo, in phone settings under 'about phone' it says 'system updates' and the only option available is 'check for update'. Screen display says system is up to date and gives a time of the last update check.

Am I correct in assuming that once I leave my home wifi that updates will use data unless I turn off data? I am on a limited plan (200 mb) and don't want a large download running while away from my phone.
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rikkster, Mobile Master

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You're welcome Ron. The Settings option is found when accessing the Play Store app from your phone. When you open Play Store, tap the three horizontal bars in the upper left hand corner to open the menu. Tap the Settings option that appears near the bottom of the page. Tap Auto-update apps, 'Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only' should be selected by default.

This will only allow apps to update over Wi-Fi. However, if data and Wi-Fi are both enabled, some apps will take advantage of data once the Wi-Fi connection is lost. Email account sync is one example and as Ray explains below, this can be disabled as well. Other examples include mapping or navigational apps that when opened, rely on data to pinpoint your location or show points of interest.

With limited data, the best practice is to leave data off and only use it when absolutely needed or when Wi-Fi is unavailable. There's no need for data to be turned on while using Wi-Fi. If you intend to use data, Bob suggests a useful way of tracking data usage, a helpful tool for those with limited data plans.
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Play Store => Settings as above: choose auto-update apps over wifi only. Those apps will not use your mobile data on the fly to update;

BUT leave your mobile data ON and they can use it for other purposes, such as notifications or other background functions. You can keep tabs on your email, etc. without much worry about consumption.

Leaving mobile data OFF leaves you in the dark data-wise: no notifications, no apps that require data will run properly.

Check your Settings => Data usage and re-set your values to zero. Leave your mobile data ON and check back in a few days at your consumption. What's on the graph is not the way Koodo will account for it, but it will give you a good idea of how to handle your 200 MB.
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My Motorola phone has a built-in APN widget that also functions as an on-off switch for data.

You may want to switch off auto-sync too (Settings > Accounts & sync)
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Ivan, Mobile Master

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Rikkster, consider turning this into a Mobile Masters' Blog post.
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Older topic, but very worth bumping...alas, data is a sore point:

Found an even better option for widget:

Power Toggles allows you a lot more than just enable/disable data...also works for wifi, speaker, torch light, battery, etc, etc.

I'm not affiliated in any way with the author, just a VERY happy user (2+ years now).
Hope this helps you manage you phone better.
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Ron Chenier

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Thank you Rikkster,
That is great information to have. Well explained.
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Anita Jeffreys

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Thank you.  Helps clear some things up for me.

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