Our Android devices have quickly become media consumption machines. Thanks to their big screens, excellent video streaming apps, a desktop-like browsing experience, and numerous other improvements, we find ourselves downloading and using more and more data every passing day. Unfortunately, most 3G and 4G data plans have gone the other way, from unlimited to a few GigaBytes monthly at most. So how do you save on your data consumption on Android? Here are a few tips.

1. Find the culprit apps, limit their background usage

Android has a built-in data tracking tool, under Settings / Data Usage. In this previous article, I explained how you can see which apps are using your data during a certain period of time. You can then proceed to restrict their background usage if you notice that they are mostly downloading things when you aren’t actively using them, or you can head into their settings and tweak a few things.

So Google Maps was responsible for that bump in my data consumptionSo Google Maps was responsible for that bump in my data consumption

Most useful in any app that handles a lot of data (Google+ auto-upload, the Play Store, any music or podcast app, and so on) is finding a setting that limits its auto-update to WiFi only. Many apps offer this feature and you can make use of it to reduce your mobile plan consumption without compromising on getting your data synchronized.

2. Compress data in Chrome, or use Opera Mini

Chrome contains a very handy data compression utility. By going to its Settings / Bandwidth Management / Reduce Data Usage, you can turn the option on. From now on, Chrome will try to compress some of its data before downloading it to your device.

Chrome's data saving manages to reduce consumption by about 11%Chrome’s data saving manages to reduce consumption by 10-20%

Another solution would be to use Opera Mini. Opera’s browser is lightweight, incredibly fast, and compresses data to an extreme extent. Granted, most modern webpages with fancy elements won’t load as they are supposed to, but Opera Mini manages to show you the information that matters and can do a terrific job of limiting up to 90% of your data usage (check your stats under Help / Data Usage to see its effect).

Opera's data compression is more radical, saving more than 80%Opera’s data compression is more radical, saving more than 80%

3. Use Opera Max or Onavo Extend

If you do more than browsing and downloading of big media files, you may need to use a more global data compression tool. Two excellent alternatives exist, Opera Max (limited worldwide availability) and Onavo Extend (available everywhere), and they both operate in the same way.

By creating a VPN through which all of your connection is routed, Max and Extend can handle Twitter and Instagram pictures, browser pages, and more (Opera Max compresses videos too!)

Onavo Extend works mostly on apps that handle a lot of imagesOnavo Extend works mostly on apps that handle a lot of images

Which data saving tips do you use? Do you know more tricks than the ones mentioned here that you can recommend?

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