Do's and don'ts of cell phone data use

3:41 PM, Apr 3, 2012   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Ever wonder about how much your apps, downloads, music, games or pics drain your smartphones or sting your data plans?

Do's and Don'ts of Cell Phone Data Usage 

In order for you to understand how much data these apps and downloads are using, it's important to put context around what all these data measurement terms actually mean.

The Geek Squad developed this cheat sheet to break down what megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB) mean for you:

  • Most data plans are limited to 2 GB. There are 1,024 MB in a GB, so that means most data plans are limited to 2,048 MB.
  • For computers, 2 GB isn't that much. For example, a number of laptops these days will have 500 GB or 750 GB hard drives. That being said, you should not panic when you hear that your smartphone is limited to 2 GB of memory because files are smaller in the mobile world than they are in the computer world.
  • Where people get into trouble is when they download a lot of music or movie files, or when they tether or share their mobile phone's Internet connection with other devices.
  • The average music file is only about 5 MB. But if you're a music lover that downloads more than 400 songs, those tend to add up quickly. Streaming Netflix tends to use more data at around 3,600 MB for a 2 hour hi-def movie or 700 MB for the same standard-def version.
  • Simple apps for your phone tend to use much less at 5MB, and sending emails is almost a negligible amount.

Tracking Data

Always be mindful of the amount of data you're using by checking your monthly bill or mobile carrier's website. You can also check via text.

For Verizon users, dial #DATA (#3282) and hit "Send."

For AT&T, dial *DATA# and hit "Send."

Another option is to get automatic updates with apps such as 3G Watchdog for Android (free) or DataMan Pro for iPhone ($1.99) that help you track data with a an easy-to-read status icon and detailed report page.

Other tools include Netcounter for Android (free) and My Data Manager (Android or iPhone, free) that help you monitor app data usage and even set alarms to monitor your bill.

Mindful Management

A big solution to help limit data plan consumption is to connect your phone to a wireless network whenever possible. This way, you're gathering data from a high speed Internet provider rather than over your cellular network. The data you use will not count against your mobile device's data plan. This is an especially good practice for bigger downloads and long video streaming.

However, always remember to use caution when connecting to WiFi networks. For anything personal (banking, social media or shopping) always make sure that you are on a secure, password-protected network.

Tips provided by The Geek Squad.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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