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How to limit your data usage, stop overspending and never run out of mobile data again

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The spread of fast, reliable 4G has brought about a sea change in mobile internet usage habits.

No longer are we forced to wait until we get home to watch that funny clip of the guilt-faced dog who’s just raided the cookie cupboard. No more do we have to limit our mobile internet use to WhatsApp messages and Facebook updates.

But there is a downside. And that's that our insatiable appetite for data-heavy services, such as video and music streaming, means we require higher and higher monthly mobile internet usage limits. And that costs.

But help is at hand. Read on as we outline some expert tips to help you take control of your usage.

Follow them and it could be mean the difference between having to upgrade to super-expensive mega-data plan or sticking with your current, keenly priced contract.

In the market for a good SIM only plan? Here's our pick of the best around.

Data saving step 1

Almost all apps need to connect to the internet whenever you use them.

If you use streaming apps, such as YouTube, Spotify or BBC iPlayer, you should expect them to appear as the biggest data users.

But you’d be surprised at how many other, non-streaming apps make generous use of your data allowance for syncing, updating and even downloading ads!

Below, you’ll find some step-by-step instructions to help you establish beyond doubt the apps that really are chomping into your data allowance.

This will list all your installed apps in alphabetical order.

From here, you can block apps you no longer want to access to the internet via your mobile network.

All apps will still work and will still connect via Wi-Fi where this is available.

Data saving 2

Wi-Fi assist is a feature of smartphones that seamlessly, automatically connects you to your mobile network whenever the Wi-Fi signal is patchy, or you’re out of range.

It can be very useful whenever you’re desperate for good connection and need to send an important email, for example. But it’s not ideal when you’re streaming videos under the assumption that you’re still on Wi-Fi when in fact you’re using up all your 4G allowance.

data saving step 3

iCloud Drive is a very convenient way to protect your data and share files and app settings across devices.

But, once again, if you’re not careful about which apps you allow to back up their data to a cloud storage service, you can seriously eat into your data allowance.

To get around this, choose which apps you want keep always connected and which you’re willing to keep offline until you’re in a Wi-Fi spot.

Data saving step 4

You can reset it every month to coincide with your contract reset data (usually the billing date). Check this regularly throughout the month to make sure you’re on target.

If you’d rather have this done automatically you can use a third-party app, such as Data Manager, or your network provider’s own app.

You'll find links to all major network providers' apps here:

Need a data-only SIM plan for your tablet? Take a look at our selection of the best data-only SIM deals.

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