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Managing your data usage

Keeping control of your data usage is an important way of staying on top of your costs – and it’s not as hard as you might think.

If you’re concerned that you’ve used more data than usual, or think you might exceed your monthly allowance, we have a range of Data Extras that allow you to increase your monthly allowance. You can add these in your My Vodafone account or in the My Vodafone app.

We can also help you manage your data usage in periods where you need to monitor your usage more closely, letting you enjoy your favourite apps and sites while giving you more control over the amount of data you’re using.

From restricting background data to other app-specific advice, here are a few tips and tricks to help you manage and understand your data usage.

Monitoring your data usage

We’ll always let you know when you’re getting close to your monthly data limit, and again when you’ve reached it.

You can keep an eye on your usage as you go using the My Vodafone app or by logging in to My Vodafone – so that you don’t have to worry about receiving these notifications.

It’s also useful to know which apps or features you use most of your mobile data on, so you can adjust the settings or usage. Most smartphones and tablets have an in-built data monitor which will show you where you’re using the most data.

Instructions depend on the make and model of your device but you can use these Apple and Android instructions as a guide:

Apple devices

Go to Settings and choose Mobile data. Then scroll down to Use Mobile Data for: where you can see how much data you use on each application.

Android devices

Go to Settings and choose Data usage. Here you can see where you’re using the most data and choose to add data alerts.

Manage your app settings

You don’t want to stop using your favourite apps to save on data usage – and, fortunately, you won’t have to.

Here are some examples of popular apps, and how to adjust their settings to manage how much data they use – ideal if you’re running low, or want to avoid it.


Save data by turning the video auto-play feature off, meaning videos won’t play automatically as you scroll through your newsfeed. To do this, go to Settings, Account settings and then Videos and photos. You could also switch off Upload HD if you upload a lot of videos too.


In Settings under Manage, you can switch on Travel mode. If you use Snapchat a lot this will save you data by stopping videos from automatically downloading.


If your music is eating up all your data try downloading playlists over Wi-Fi and listening to them in ‘offline mode’. Go to Your library, followed by Settings and Playback to switch to offline.

Streaming quality also affects data usage – so to switch to standard quality and use less data, go to Your library, followed by Settings and Streaming quality. You can also adjust download quality and opt out of Download Using Cellular here.


You can choose not to have Instagram preload videos over your mobile connection, reducing data usage on videos you don’t want to watch. Go to your profile, tap the settings icon in the top right corner to choose Mobile Data Use and toggle the Use Less Data option to On. This won���t change the way Instagram works when you’re on Wi-Fi.


Switching off the auto-play videos feature is the best way to manage your data usage on Twitter. Go to Settings and choose Data, then Video auto-play and set it to Never play videos automatically. On the Data screen you can also switch off high-quality video playback on a data connection (making it Wi-Fi only), and prevent images from pre-loading by unticking that box.


Use less data to stream your videos by reducing their quality. Go to the menu, then choose Quality and switch to the lowest option available (this may vary on different operating systems). You can also restrict HD streaming to Wi-Fi only connections.

These settings will stay in place on Android, but will need to be adjusted each time you use the Apple app. Android users should go to Settings, then General, then Limit mobile data usage. Apple users can go to Settings, then toggle the Play HD on Wi-Fi only option to On.


You can adjust your settings so that you only stream over Wi-Fi, rather than using data. In the menu, select My account followed by Playback and toggle the Wi-Fi only option to On.

Manage device settings

As well as tweaking individual app settings, you can also adjust the settings in your phone or tablet to better manage your data usage.

Switch off automatic updates to update only when you’re on Wi-Fi
If you have your device set up for automatic updates, you may find you use up more data in the background than you’d like. So if you seem to be using more data than you expected, switching off automatic updates for the rest of the month could help.

Switching off automatic updates on an Apple device
Go to Settings and choose iTunes & App Store. Here you can choose to switch off mobile data for automatic updates, meaning you won’t automatically update unless you’re on Wi-Fi.

Switching off automatic updates on an Android device
In the Google Play Store app, choose Settings from the menu. Next, choose Auto-update apps, then Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only.

Reduce background data usage
Many apps will use background data, which means they use your allowance to refresh themselves while you’re not actively using them. But this can be turned off without really interfering with how you use your phone – it just means you won’t receive new messages or notifications unless you choose to launch an app.

Switching off background data on an Apple device
Go to Settings, then General, then Background App Refresh. Here you can turn the functionality off altogether by switching the toggle at the top of the screen to Off. Once you’ve done this, you can still choose to keep certain apps active by switching their individual toggles to On.

Switching off background data on an Android device
This has to be done on an app-by-app basis, and handily doesn’t stop your apps refreshing when connected to Wi-Fi. Go to Settings, then Data usage. From here you can see the list of apps that use data. Choose an app, then Restrict background data. Repeat the process on all apps you want to restrict.

Other handy hints

  • Make use of available Wi-Fi networks and Wi-Fi hotspots when you're out and about. It's worth mentioning that Wi-Fi Assist on iPhone can actually use up more data than you'd expect if it's constantly looking for, connecting to, and then disconnecting from Wi-Fi. So you may want to switch it off and just manually connect to Wi-Fi when you need it.
  • For auto back-up services like Dropbox or iCloud, choose the Wi-Fi only option
  • Limit how often you tether your phone or use it as a hotspot
  • Turn off features like Location unless you need to use them, to avoid using data
  • Switch mobile data off altogether when your phone isn't in active use – for example, if you leave it on overnight for your wake-up alarm.

Need more help?

Chat with one of our advisers online, head into your nearest store or see what tips and answers are available in our community.