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Five ways to manage your cellular data.

A couple years ago, the term "data management" didn't really exist. Yet today it is relevant to virtually every smartphone user. With data overage rates running up to $50 per GB, monitoring your data usage is a life skill in the ballpark as maintaining tire pressure, getting a programmable thermostat or paying off your credit card each month.... (we all do that, right?).

By now most of us get the concept of using free WiFi whenever possible and turning off Apps that aren't in use but it still doesn't always get the job done. With the cellular providers pushing family or share plans it can often be difficult to figure out who in your household is burning up all your data.

Keeping your data use under control while still enjoying your smartphone's fun features is a desire shared by most of our customers. Here's five quick tips you may find useful before you call that family meeting:

1. Change your Netflix playback settings

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If you're pushing multiple GB's of data, chances are you're watching Netflix on your phone or tethering to a tablet/laptop. In either case, it's important to understand by that Netflix defaults your playback settings to the highest resolution possible - which can use up to 7GB per HOUR!

Log into your Netflix account, go to Playback Settings under My Profile and change the resolution to standard definition. It only uses 300 MB per hour or about 90% less data. And as a little extra push, click off the Automatically Play Next Video box as well.

2. Turn off Facebook Video "Auto-Playback"

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Same thing as above - as I'm sure you've noticed, streaming video is the killer here when it comes to data usage. Several months ago, Facebook added a feature that automatically plays videos whenever you open your application - this is wonderful except it takes a high amount of data to stream those videos and if you're checking your Facebook multiple times each day, that amount of playback can really add up. Note: This primarily affects adults in your household, your kids are way past Facebook... in case you didn't know.

The fix here is simple, go into your account settings and check off the Auto-Playback feature. You can switch it to "Auto-Play on WiFi" but most people I find just deactivate and be done with it.

3. Drop the Turn by Turn Map Directions

If you don't need the ongoing turn-by-turn directions don't use it. Just get the location and either take a screenshot or leave it up on your screen. Many users don't realize that the updates use data and if you're any type of road warrior that uses maps regularly, it can really burn up your data. If you don't need location services, turn your GPS off. It will also help improve your battery life.

4. Use Google Chrome as your mobile browser

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Google Chrome has been quietly rolling out their data compression feature and it's super easy to use... just download the Chrome browser (iOS users) or set it as your default browser on Android. From any web page, click the three dots in the upper right, then settings, click data compression and that's it. It can take up to 30% off your web browsing applications.

5. Don't seed torrents

DISCLAIMER: In no way are we condoning file-sharing but we also live in the real world. If you're under the age of 50 and have at least one Android device in your household... chances are someone has found one of the awesome bittorrent players in the Google play store. And more importantly, that they can download better and faster on LTE than over the home WiFi.. without the watchdog "you've been illegally downloading Game of Thrones" message from Shaw.

This is all well and good, except if you leave it sitting in the app it will continue seeding back to the Peer-to-Peer network, using a constant stream of your precious data every second it's in place. Delete your torrent as soon as the download complete and save your karma points for when you are using your home network... and get a VPN. It may be slower, but it's certainly cheaper.

These are just a few of the strategies you can incorporate. If you need any help or are looking for even more options to reduce your usage pop in to TMS Wireless and we'll be happy to help!