These days most of us are constantly checking emails, browsing the Internet, accessing social networking sites and playing games online. We use data every time we send or receive information online. So how much data are we using and what is the cost?

We ran a quick survey in the office this week and it soon became clear that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the various data packages on offer from the main providers. Even, if you are on an unlimited data tariff in the UK, roaming charges can soon begin to mount up when you travel abroad so a basic understanding of how much data you are using is always useful.

What can I do with 100MB of mobile data?

Generally speaking, an allowance of 100MB will allow you to:

  • visit 1000 basic webpages, or
  • visit 300 multimedia webpages, or
  • send 200 emails with attachments, or
  • view 15 minutes of online video, or
  • download 20 apps, or
  • download 20 songs

Most providers have data calculators on their websites which will help you to work out what you need. Ask them also to show you how to keep track of how much you are using once you have signed up to ensure you are on the right tariff.

10 tips to limit data usage

  1. Be aware that your phone may be consuming data even when you are not using it. For example, your email application may automatically check for new messages unless you instruct it not to. If you are on a data bundle tariff, it is best to turn off or limit automatic notifications, location services (eg. mapping services where data is used for GPS or social media), software updates and turn ‘Push’ email off (where your device automatically retrieves emails as they arrive)
  2. Whenever possible, use secure Wi-Fi connectivity (whether at home or near a hotspot), especially when streaming media or playing online games. These applications will gobble up your data allowance in no time.
  3. Limit or set apps, media, photos, podcasts, etc. to download and sync via Wi-Fi only
  4. Whilst SMS texting does not eat into your data, be mindful that services which use pictures, videos and audio such as MMS and Visual Voice Mail do.
  5. Use mobile versions of websites wherever possible as these are designed to use less data.
  6. Switch off multi-tasking and/or background apps that are no longer in use
  7. Close unused browser windows and tabs
  8. Keep your device’s operating system up to date
  9. Delete apps you don’t use to avoid unnecessary updates
  10. When you travel abroad, unless you have a reasonably priced data roaming plan, you may be best advised to switch off all data usage! At the very least, speak to your provider before travelling to avoid racking up huge bills. Again, you can always use free Wi-Fi in places such as hotels, cafes and restaurants wherever possible.