How to Track Data Usage on Your Android Device

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge
Jason Hidalgo

With unlimited data plans going by the wayside, it's important to pay attention to your data usage to avoid expensive overcharges. Luckily, Android smartphones make it very easy to track and manage your data consumption. Plus, there are many ways to easily cut down on your data usage without too much inconvenience.

The features built into Android's settings are mostly universal by this point. As long as you're running a fairly recent version of Android, you should be able to follow this process exactly and reach the info that Android tracks about your data usage.

The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

  1. Start by opening up your Settings app.

  2. Scroll until you find Network & Internet. Tap to open it up.

  3. Under the Network & Internet settings, you'll find a bunch of settings that control how your device connects both to your cellular network and WiFi. Additionally, you can change tethering and VPN settings here too. All of this will be useful, should you need to adjust your data use.

    Now, locate and select Data usage.

  4. You will arrive on Android's page for monitoring and tracking data usage on your device. Here you can set up the available controls to keep track of how much data you're using within your billing period and even set alerts for yourself when you reach a certain point each month.

    Network & Internet, Data usage, Mobile data toggle on Android

    At the top of the screen, you'll see your current data usage for the month both written in large font and mapped on a bar graph. The end of that graph is the point where your device will alert you that you're using too much data. Tap on it to change the amount.

  5. Directly below the graph, you'll find the Data saver option. Tap it and toggle the switch to turn on data save to restrict the data your apps can use.

  6. The section below that contains a few mobile data options, including one to switch it off altogether. Here, you can also use the Billing cycle option to set the date for when the monthly billing cycle of your mobile plan resets. This way you can track your data usage based on your plan.

    Set, Data saver toggle, Billing cycle option in Android
  7. Turn your attention to Mobile data usage. This option lets you visualize your date usage and see which apps have used the most data. Tap to open it.

  8. At the very top of the screen, you'll see the current month as determined by your Billing cycle setting. You can tap on the dates to go back and see previous periods.

    Below that, you'll find a graph of your data use for the billing period. This is a line graph increasing over time with your use.

    The bottom portion of the screen is devoted to a breakdown of how much data was used by each of your apps. They're listed out in order for most data used on down. You can see the name of each app along with the amount of data it's used so far in the billing period. This particular section can provide excellent insights into where your data hogs really are.

    Tap on an app to see more information about the data it used and even control whether it can use mobile data, WiFi, or both.

    Calendar period, Firefox app, Cellular data toggle on Android
  9. Depending on your carrier, phone manufacturer, and version of Android you may find variations in the options presented. Some may even have more than the ones discussed here. In any case, the information provided here by Android itself is an excellent place to start in taking control of your data use.

Third-Party Apps

You can get even more data about your data using third-party apps. The four majors carriers each offer apps that sync up with your account: myAT&T, T-Mobile My Account, Sprint Zone, and My Verizon Mobile. 

Other popular data management apps include My Data Manager, and Data Usage. Each lets you set up limits and alerts along with their own distinct features. 

My Data Manager lets you track data usage even in shared or family plans and across multiple devices. Data Usage also tracks Wi-Fi usage, though it's unsure why you'd want or need to track that. It also tries to predict when you might go over your data allotment based on daily usage. You can set daily, weekly, and monthly data limits too.

Reducing Your Data Usage

If you find yourself struggling to stay within your data plan, there are a few things you can do. While you may be tempted to simply upgrade your monthly plan, that's not the only answer. With most carriers offering some sort of shared plans, you can team up with your partner or a trusted friend or family member which could save some money. Or, you can try to consume less data

First, from the data usage section of your smartphone's settings, you can restrict background data on your apps, either one-by-one or all at once. This way, your apps aren't consuming data when you're not evening using the phone. This may interfere with how the apps work, but it's worth a try.

Another easy fix is to use Wi-Fi whenever you can, such as when you're at home or at work. Just beware of unsecured Wi-Fi networks, such as those at coffee shops and other public locations, where your privacy could be compromised. You may want to invest in a hotspot device, like the Verizon MiFi.