How to Manage Bandwidth and Data Usage in Chrome for iOS

Chrome iOS data usage
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This tutorial is only intended for users running the Google Chrome browser on iOS devices.

For mobile Web surfers, particularly those on limited plans, monitoring data usage can be an important part of daily life. This is especially true when browsing, as the amount of kilobytes and megabytes flying back and forth can add up quickly.

To make things easier for iPhone users, Google Chrome offers some bandwidth management features that allow you to reduce data usage by upwards of 50% through a series of performance optimizations. In addition to these data saving measures Chrome for iOS also provides the ability to preload Web pages, making for a much faster browsing experience on your mobile device.

This tutorial walks you through each of these functionality sets, explaining exactly how they work as well as how to utilize them to your benefit.

First, open your Google Chrome browser. Select the Chrome menu button, represented by three horizontal lines and located in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window. When the drop-down menu appears, select the Settings option. Chrome's Settings interface should now be displayed. Select the option labeled Bandwidth. Chrome's Bandwidth settings are now visible. Select the first section, labeled Preload Webpages.

Preload Webpages

The Preload Webpages settings should now be displayed, containing three options available to choose from. When you visit a website, Chrome has the ability to predict where you may go next (i.e., which links you may select from the current page). While you are browsing said page, the destination page(s) tied to available links are preloaded in the background. As soon as you select one of these links, its destination page is able to render almost instantly since it has already been retrieved from the server and stored on your device. This is a handy feature for those users who do not like waiting for pages to load, also known as everyone! However, this amenity can come with a steep price so it is important that you understand each of the following settings.

  • Always: When selected, Chrome will preload Web pages at every opportunity; no matter your connection type. Preloading Web content, while providing the convenience of speeding up your browsing experience, can utilize a significant amount of data. Therefore this setting is not recommended for users on limited mobile data plans.
  • Only on Wi-Fi: Enabled by default, this setting instructs Chrome to only preload content when your device is on a Wi-Fi connection. This is the recommended setting for those users not on unlimited data plans.
  • Never: When selected Chrome will never preload Web content, no matter your connection type.

Once you have chosen the desired option, select the Done button to return to Chrome's Bandwidth settings interface.

Reduce Data Usage

Chrome's Reduce Data Usage settings, accessible via the Bandwidth settings screen mentioned above, provide the ability to reduce data usage while browsing by almost half of the usual sum. While activated, this feature condenses image files and performs a number of other optimizations server-side prior to sending a Web page to your device. This cloud-based compression and optimization significantly reduces the amount of data your device receives.

Chrome's data reduction functionality can be easily toggled by pressing the accompanying ON/OFF button.

It should be noted that not all content meets the criteria for this data compression. For example, any data retrieved via the HTTPS protocol is not optimized on Google's servers. Also, data reduction is not activated while browsing the Web in Incognito Mode.