Our Favourite Apps for Monitoring Data Usage
Today's smart phones are pretty internet heavy. It's no longer just the top end phones that depend on a data connection, even budget models come loaded down with browsers, apps and email programmes that eat up your monthly data budget. Mobile data can get pretty pricey, especially if you go over your data limit, and the advent of 4G technology means that you can exceed that limit even faster than before. All in all it's easy to end up with a bill that's a lot more expensive than you were planning on.
This is why we've prepared a list of the top apps for monitoring your online data usage. Whether you've got an iPhone or an Android, you'll never be surprised by a monster phone bill again. Of course, most Android models these days come with built in data counters, but some of these apps have some nifty extra features, so you might want to consider downloading them anyway…
Onvavo Count is a cool little (free!) app that lets you do all kinds of things. You can set alerts not only for when you get close to your data limit, but also for when an app is using more than its fair share of data. You'll also get a handy list of all the apps that are currently using data as well as how much they're using. Even better, Onavo Count is available for both Android and iOS. As an added bonus, Onavo make a related app called Extend that compresses data during a transfer meaning that you use up less of your data limit. Sweet.
3G Watchdog is pretty awesome, though you'll need to go through a set up process first. You put in your data limit as well as the time period (meaning that you can limit your data by day rather than by month if you prefer), and then you configure the app to do what you want. Obviously, you can set alerts for when you get close to your limits, as well as alerts for when a certain percentage of your limit has been used.
There's also a nice little notification icon that can be stuck on your notification bar, so you'll always know what your usage is like. 3G Watchdog is Android only at the moment, though it is free. A Pro version is available for a small charge, but there aren't that many extra features- though you will get more widgets and data prediction.
Data Usage is a cool little iPhone app that's, once again, free. It's got all the essentials, including the ability to set alerts and set time periods to match your billing cycle, and it's dead easy to install and run. One nice feature of Data Usage though is that it differentiates between cellular and WiFi data use, so you'll know when you're paying for cellular or when you've got a free connection. There is a Pro version, though the main benefit of this is just more configuration options, so it won't appeal to any but the most tech conscious of customers.
My Data Manager
We love My Data Manager, it's easy to use, loaded with features, free and available for both Android and iPhone. You'll be able to set limits and alerts for cellular data, WiFi and for roaming as well (handy for the frequent traveller). The app will show you historical usage- which could be useful if you're thinking about signing up for a new mobile plan and need to decide on a data limit.
You'll even be able to track the data usage of apps such as Skype, WhatsApp and Viber individually, and set limits for each too. Finally, all your data usage will be presented to you in a nice, easy to read graph format, so My Data Manager makes it simple to know what's what. All in all, this is a fantastic app and highly recommended.
Once again, Data Monitor ticks all the boxes: free, iOS and Android, easy to use, easy to install and lots of neat features. Data Monitor will track your data usage on both cellular and WiFi internet, and show them separately in an easy to read graph. You'll be able to set up alerts for 3G, 4G and WiFi, as well as percentage alerts so you'll know when you're getting close to your limit, or when you've used half your limit, for example. You'll even be able to connect through the app to Google Maps and see where your data was used and how much you used in each place. Data monitoring apps don't get much better than the appropriately named Data Monitor…
Data Man is a simple iOS only app. The free version lets you do all the basics, including setting up alerts, billing cycles and giving you an overview of how much data you've used in the last month. However, things like tracking each app's data usage individually are reserved for the Pro version, so if you want more than the basics you're going to have to pay for them.
Data Usage Defender
Finally, Data Usage Defender is a data monitoring app especially for users with a rooted Android device. This app does pretty much anything you could want in terms of data monitoring, including the obvious alert systems, differentiating between cellular and WiFi data, setting limits, billing cycles and even a nice notification icon that lets you know what percentage of your limit you've used up. When it comes to individual apps, Data Usage Defender is a whizz.
You'll be able to see downloads and uploads for any app installed on your system, and you'll be able to control whether an app connects over only cellular, only WiFi or both. There's even a built in speed test so you'll know how fast your data connection is, and a floating widget that you can drag around your phone that constantly monitors connection speeds. If you've got a rooted Android device, it's tough to find a more comprehensive app than Data Usage Defender.