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Topic: Tips for minimizing out-of-network data usage?

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Old 07-15-2013, 05:05 PM
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Tips for minimizing out-of-network data usage?

Every year, we take a family vacation for two weeks to rural Maine. We don't have wi-fi access, and although we can get cell-phone coverage on our AT&T phones, it's on the extended network. For the first couple years that we went with our iPhones, using cellular data was fairly slow, but otherwise we had no problems. Last year, however, we heard from AT&T about our out-of-network data usage on our iPhone 4 (my wife's) and 4S (mine). We both received warnings, and in my case I was eventually cut off from all out-of-network data for the duration of my billing period. It turns out there was a latency in terms of when the data usage was reported to AT&T, so that by the time I received the initial warning, I had already exceeded the limit. (Keep in mind, this is not about going over my overall data-plan limit -- I was on unlimited data at the time -- it's about using too much extended-network data, which I had never even realized was a thing, but which apparently costs AT&T a lot of money.)

This year, I want to be smarter about my data usage. Here are a few of the things I'm going to try. I would appreciate feedback on a) how effective they're likely to be, or b) any other tips you can think of. I should also mention that what might have been the most effective tactic -- changing my billing cycle so that it occurs in the middle of our trip -- is not available to us.

1. Unsubscribe from HTML-heavy newsletters
2. Turn off notifications
3. Turn off location awareness (or at least only using it when absolutely necessary)
4. Use Onavo Extend (no idea how effective that is, but I figure it can't hurt)
5. Check email via the Gmail app, and only look at the main inbox (will this allow me to avoid downloading other emails? If not, is there another way to accomplish that goal?)
6. Don't download podcasts or any other large files
7. Turn off Siri (which I don't use much anyway)

And of course, the best approach of all: Put down the damn iPhone and just enjoy my vacation. :-)

What do you think? Will these work? Anything I'm missing?
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Old 07-15-2013, 06:19 PM
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Your best solution is to avoid using at&t all together. Seriously, that is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard (not your actions but rather at&t, yet again, not being able to provide coverage and getting upset when people use their smartphones like smartphones).
  1. This won't do much, if anything, if you rely on the built-in Mail app. Even HTML heavy e-mails tend to only take up a few kb (200-300) when viewed through that app.
  2. This will only affect programs that are allowed to use data in the background. You don't want to turn off notifications for apps that are actually doing something in the background, such as games, that take time to unlock certain things. For example, my girlfriend likes playing some city building game. It takes time for buildings to be made and other things like that. It isn't using her data but it is just in-game progression. Besides, unless you are receiving 1000 notifications a day from apps pulling in large amounts of data (an update is only a few kb), it won't make a difference.
  3. Location data does not count as cellular data. All your iPhone does is ping the nearest cellular towers (2-3 of them) for their location data and triangulate your position. This service does not consume data. However, data is consumed when you use GPS functionality as the map is continually updated. Your location information doesn't count but the downloading of map information does. So again, you won't really be changing anything.
  4. This app will tell you if there are any apps on your iPhone using data when you don't know they are. It can be effective. However, the biggest data culprit is easily the facebook app and Safari if you end up surfing the internet. Limiting your use of those two apps will drastically cutdown on your data usage. Feel free to use an app to monitor your data usage though, it doesn't hurt.
  5. I don't see a reason to do this. As I said, e-mails don't use tons of data. They can but, if you are already using the default Mail app, you might as well just stick with it and only open important e-mails that you need to view. Don't casually open e-mails as you would at home. The Gmail app really isn't going to make a difference.
  6. Well yeah, that should be given
  7. You can turn Siri off but, if you aren't already using that feature, it isn't going to consume data. Siri uses data only when you actually use that service. Otherwise it sits dormant. Removing Siri (when you aren't using it) won't affect your data usage.

The best thing you can do, aside from switching to a carrier that doesn't get mad when they actually have to provide you service, is just use your phone smartly. You should turn cellular data completely off and check your e-mail only once or twice a day. Other than that, you should have no reason to access your data (aside from surfing the internet or using a GPS app). Turning off cellular data is an easy single step that is your best bet. It is the only way, without actually having to do a bunch of tedious steps, that you can be sure that apps aren't using your data. Plus its a really easy solution, just a flick of a button.



64GB iPhone 5 | 64GB iPad mini | AppleTV 2 (2012) | AppleTV 2 (2010) | 4GB 3G iPod shuffle | 2012 15" MacBook Pro, 1TB SSHD, 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz, OS X 10.8.4 Mountain Lion | Apple Lossless | iTunes AAC -Q 68 | iTunes 11.1 | Library size = 1.78TB | Legacy iPods: 3G 40GB, 4G 40GB, 5G 60GB, 160GB iPod classic (2009)
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Old 07-15-2013, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kornchild2002 View Post
Your best solution is to avoid using at&t all together. Seriously, that is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard (not your actions but rather at&t, yet again, not being able to provide coverage and getting upset when people use their smartphones like smartphones).
Yeah, I went back and dug up the text message warnings. Turns out the official out-of-network limit is 25MB, but then let you go up to 100MB before cutting you off. (And BTW, there are no other options. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn't be able to pay for additional data. Once you're cut off, you're cut off.)

You're probably right that the easiest solution is to keep cellular data turned off outside of 1-2 checks a day. Also, the more important feature of Onavo may be the ability to monitor usage. Last year, I was flying completely blind.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 07-16-2013, 02:37 PM
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Disabling 3G won't do anything as the OP will still be consuming data that isn't part of the at&t network. They want to minimize data consumption all together so that at&t doesn't get upset that they are using out-of-network data, they don't want to minimize data use to help with the battery life of their iPhones.



64GB iPhone 5 | 64GB iPad mini | AppleTV 2 (2012) | AppleTV 2 (2010) | 4GB 3G iPod shuffle | 2012 15" MacBook Pro, 1TB SSHD, 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz, OS X 10.8.4 Mountain Lion | Apple Lossless | iTunes AAC -Q 68 | iTunes 11.1 | Library size = 1.78TB | Legacy iPods: 3G 40GB, 4G 40GB, 5G 60GB, 160GB iPod classic (2009)
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:54 AM
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zftcg: I find the biggest data hog is Siri Location data. I always turn that off the first thing when a new iPhone is introduced at my house.

korn: I find it easier to delete Alice's posts that provide no information, wrong information or information that is off topic than to respond to them. Since you already responded, I am leaving it.



Have you backed up your iTunes Library this week? If not, you are risking losing your music and playlists....
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Old 07-18-2013, 06:56 AM
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I'll delete their posts next time.

If the OP doesn't use Siri, its location services shouldn't be consuming data. They want to turn Siri off all together but, if the service isn't being used, it won't be consuming data. To me, that's like deleting Netflix for consuming data despite never using it. The app/service isn't going to actually use data unless it is turned on/used.

I'm also surprised that Siri location services consume large amounts of data given that other location services (such as automatic geotagging of photos) don't even make a dent in my data service. I will go through less than 1MB of cellular data after taking over 500 photos that are all geotagged. Is it that Siri is looking up location data and surrounding things/places (similar to the Maps app)? For example, if I ask Siri for the nearest restaurant, it is going to ping my location (which consumes less than 1kb of data), and then (essentially) conduct a Google search for restaurants near me and display the results. I can understand if Siri is using data for the last steps there but not for general location services.



64GB iPhone 5 | 64GB iPad mini | AppleTV 2 (2012) | AppleTV 2 (2010) | 4GB 3G iPod shuffle | 2012 15" MacBook Pro, 1TB SSHD, 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz, OS X 10.8.4 Mountain Lion | Apple Lossless | iTunes AAC -Q 68 | iTunes 11.1 | Library size = 1.78TB | Legacy iPods: 3G 40GB, 4G 40GB, 5G 60GB, 160GB iPod classic (2009)
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Old 07-18-2013, 09:20 AM
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If Siri location services are on it constantly is obtaining your location to be able to tell you what is nearby when you ask. It is being proactive.

We have seen Siri location services consume 1GB in 10 days. Every time my son hit the 50% limit in the beginning of the month, he accidentally left Siri location services on after using it once a week before.

Siri location services are on by default. Whether you use it or not. If you have Siri disabled, the location services are also disabled.



Have you backed up your iTunes Library this week? If not, you are risking losing your music and playlists....
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Old 07-18-2013, 09:29 AM
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I've had months where I didn't even hit the 250MB mark on my phone before yet I have Siri enable and use it from time to time. Actually, looking back at my iPhone's history, I've consumed 4GB of cellular data sine November 28th (a little under 500MB sent and 3.5GB received). That's with me using all location services (including Siri) along with Siri. I continually travel between two states on an everyday basis, get sports updates from Siri, etc.

I'm not doubting you but I am having trouble understanding how Siri location services can consume that much data when, in theory, the iPhone should just be pinging cellular towers and obtaining location data that way (essentially A-GPS).



64GB iPhone 5 | 64GB iPad mini | AppleTV 2 (2012) | AppleTV 2 (2010) | 4GB 3G iPod shuffle | 2012 15" MacBook Pro, 1TB SSHD, 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz, OS X 10.8.4 Mountain Lion | Apple Lossless | iTunes AAC -Q 68 | iTunes 11.1 | Library size = 1.78TB | Legacy iPods: 3G 40GB, 4G 40GB, 5G 60GB, 160GB iPod classic (2009)
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:29 AM
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Heck, I don't know. All I know is that if he leaves Siri Location Services on, he uses 1 GB in 10 days. I doubt that the whole gig is Siri location services, he's a news junkie and does not have wifi all the time. I would guess that it is at least 250MB in 10 days. It could be due to his Siri usage, he uses it to find what restaurants are nearby, or the location of stores.

We turn Siri Location Services off to save data, and it seems to help a lot. Siri is OFF on my phone, as I found it fairly useless. The kids use Siri to search with, I'd rather be silent and type it in.



Have you backed up your iTunes Library this week? If not, you are risking losing your music and playlists....
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Topic: Tips for minimizing out-of-network data usage?

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