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Why am I suddenly using so much mobile data?!

Explore some of the common reasons for high mobile data usage

· 3 min read

In today's digital age, our smartphones have become an indispensable part of our lives. From streaming videos and music to social media browsing and online gaming, our mobile devices constantly connect us to the digital world. If you have ever found that you have been using up mobile data really quickly even if you haven't been surfing much, there could be a few reasons why that is the case! We will explore some common reasons behind excessive data usage and provide tips on how you can better manage and optimise your data usage.


1. Background Apps, Location Services, and Automatic Updates

One major culprit behind unexpected data usage is background apps and automatic updates. Many applications run in the background, constantly syncing data, refreshing content, and checking for updates.

Similar to background app refresh, having location services constantly turned on could also unknowingly consume more data than required.

Since these updates and data syncing happens in the background, this could result in mobile data usage even when you are not actively using your phone. This can lead to a significant drain on your data allowance without you even realizing it.

How to reduce data usage: To address this issue, review your app settings and disable background data usage for apps that don't require constant updates. You can also turn off your location services. You can also update your app settings such that it only automatically updates when you are connected to WiFi — that way, you can still back-up your data and keep your apps up to date without draining your mobile data usage.

2. Using a VPN

Some of us might use VPN services for security reasons, or to access location-specific services. While VPN services are very useful and important in protecting your security and privacy, and to allow you to access certain services, using a VPN service actually also uses more data than usual. If you were surfing the internet with a VPN service switched on, you are expected to use about 15%-20% more mobile data.

How to reduce data usage: To address this issue, switch off your VPN when you do not need it. You can turn on your VPN when you need to access certain services, or when you are accessing sensitive information. For normal day-to-day browsing, you might not necessarily require a VPN service.

3. Streaming and loading media in HD quality

Streaming services for music and video content are notorious data hogs. Whether you're enjoying your favorite tunes on Spotify, binging a series on Netflix, or watching YouTube videos, streaming can quickly eat up your data allowance.

Similarly, social media platforms are another major contributor to high data consumption. With the higher quality of media content on social media platforms these days, the loading of such content also uses up more mobile data than usual. The constant stream of images, videos, and auto-play features can quickly accumulate data usage.

How to reduce data usage: Consider downloading content over Wi-Fi for offline viewing or adjust streaming quality settings to lower data usage. Also, adjust your social media app settings to disable autoplay for videos and limit the use of high-resolution images to conserve data.

4. Mobile Games that require internet connection

If you are an avid gamer, and spend hours on your phone gaming, you might notice that your data get used up rather quickly. This isn't much of an issue if you primarily play games that don't require a connection to the internet; but if you primarily play games that require you to always be connected to the internet, then it shouldn't come as a surprise that long hours of gaming would result in high data usage.

How to reduce data usage: There aren't really any or configuration that can help you minimise your data usage in this aspect. However, where possible, you can connect to the WiFi and minimise your data-powered gaming.

Sudden spike in data usage? Check what is consuming your data!

If you are seeing a sudden spike in your data usage despite not doing anything out of the norm, check your data consumption to find out what is using your data. Most modern phones today have a data tracking feature in the device settings. The feature will break down the amount of data that your apps are using, and this will help you to identify what had resulted in an increase in data consumption.

Once you have identified the reason for the sudden increase in data consumption, it can help you identify ways to minimise your data usage.

Don't want to be bothered by data usage issues? Get a larger plan or unlimited plans!

It's no fun to have to constantly worry about how much data you have used - especially not when you are traveling. If you want to travel without having to worry about using too much data, you can consider getting data plans with larger volumes.

To help you decide what plan to get for your travels, you can do an estimate based on your data consumption patterns. For a typical user, 1GB of data would be more than enough per-day when traveling; if you are someone with a heavy data consumption, you can consider getting more data per day.

Alternatively, you can get an unlimited data plan. One thing to be aware of unlimited plans is that they often come with a fair-use policy, in which high-speed data is capped up to a certain usage. If your usage has exceeded that cap, you will still be able to use your data plan, but the speed will be throttled to a lower speed. Remember to check the plan details and fine prints to check how much high-speed data you will get each day, and the speed at which it will be throttled to!