Here’s the thing – data bundles are a reality for most of us and have in fact become a utility just like gas, water and electricity. In the beginning, my mobile data was something I bought once in a while and didn’t even spend much time thinking about. Right now, data bundles are part of my monthly budget alongside groceries, rent and power tokens. I am currently putting aside Ksh 1,000 to Ksh 2,000 just for data before I even start factoring in airtime for phone calls and text messages.

I’m online for more hours than I’d like to admit, but at least I have the excuse that it’s also for work so it’s not all fun and games. Also WhatsApp, as I’m sure is the reality with so many other people, has become my default messaging app. Even on the days or weeks (if I survive that long) I take a social media break, I can’t delete WhatsApp because family, neighbourhood and even work information is shared on the app and I’d miss out on important information or opportunities if I left.

The bills are ever-increasing and managing them is becoming quite the task. This means having to monitor especially where the small amounts of money are spent because over time they become a significant amount. Data is one of the expenses that can be managed to save on money. I have WiFi at home – I use Safaricom Home Fibre, but when I am up and about I use data saving methods to keep from using up my data bundles. Here are some of the tips:

1. Use a data manager

It’s difficult to save when you don’t know how much you are currently spending. There are many data managers available including Internet Speed Meter, My Data Manager and Onavo Count. I use the data manager on the mySafricom App that is available under data usage. Once you give the app usage access, it’s able to track your data consumption and give you a comprehensive breakdown of how much data you’re using so you can make steps to manage that.

2. Use a compressed browser

I tend to use Chrome for most of my surfing, but when I am up and about, I switch to Opera Mini. Opera Mini reduces web pages to 10% of their size saving you a lot of data when you are browsing. Granted, you do lose some functionality. If you mind this, you can use the Opera Browser which reduces web pages to 50% of their size saving you data but also maintaining the integrity of the pages. Depending on what I’m looking at online, I switch between the two.

3. Manage background data

One of the things that makes a smartphone a smartphone is that it’s always updating to the latest version to give you the best experience. It also needs access to the internet to access data to keep apps running. This can be easily managed in a number of ways. Head to your phone’s settings and turn off background mobile data. Set any updates to only happen when you are connected to WiFi to save on data as well as any synching of apps especially email. If you don’t have access to WiFi, you can manually allow updates maybe once a month to save on constant and sometimes unnecessary updates. Managing background data also saves your battery so it’s something to always do.

4. Manage data used on apps

Do you need all those apps on your phone? Some platforms work just as well even on web. If you must have many apps (I am very guilty here), then you need to be aware of how much data they are consuming and also restricting background data for them. You can actually go to the settings for individual apps and do this. Some apps like Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat are data hogs so limiting their usage will save you big on data bundles.

For YouTube you can limit data usage by watching videos on a lower resolution when you’re not on WiFI. You can also set that images and videos do not auto download on WhatsApp unless you manually download them and that videos don’t autoplay on apps like Twitter. Make sure if you have apps like One Drive or Dropbox are set to upload content only over WiFi as uploading large files will definitely deplete your bundles.

5. Use lighter versions of apps

The Facebook app is heavy and uses quite a lot of data. You could opt to delete the app and use the web or you could go with the Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite options, which will lower your data costs and work better on lower end devices. Twitter has Twitter Lite, YouTube has YouTube Go and Skype has Skype Lite. There are also countless other third-party apps available. Unfortunately, Instagram and Snapchat don’t have these options.

That being said, the best way to save data bundles is to be aware of what is going on with your phone. Staying on top of this and deliberately working to have efficient use of your data is the only way to do it.

mwendeMwende saysTechData Bundles,data manager,Facebook Lite,mySafaricom App,Safaricom Home Fibre,WhatsApp,YouTube Go
Here's the thing - data bundles are a reality for most of us and have in fact become a utility just like gas, water and electricity. In the beginning, my mobile data was something I bought once in a while and didn't even spend much time thinking about. Right...