Save Mobile Data When Using WhatsApp

Follow these tips to limit your WhatsApp data usage.

Mobile data is a finite commodity. Unlike Wi-Fi, most mobile data plans charge for each megabyte used. Fortunately, you can select which apps are allowed to use mobile data, helping you control your monthly usage. WhatsApp is no exception. Here are four ways to optimize your mobile data use with WhatsApp.

Phone showing Whatsapp install page
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Turn On Low Data Usage Mode

WhatsApp has an option that lowers data during during chats and calls. Selecting the Low Data Usage option will reduce the amount of data consumed but will also reduce the audio and video fidelity of the calls you make. You can test the option by activating it, placing a calls, and then monitoring the change in quality.

To activate the data saving option, open WhatsApp and select Settings > Data and Storage Usage. Under Call Settings, toggle Low Data Usage to On (green).

You spend mobile data when sending messages and media, but also when receiving them.

Turn Off Media Auto-Download

Like other messaging apps, WhatsApp allows you to share and receive images and videos—media that can consume a lot of data. These files will automatically be downloaded unless WhatsApp is instructed otherwise. You can set the app to only automatically download multimedia files if you're on a Wi-Fi network.

To adjust these settings, open WhatsApp and select Settings > Data and Storage Usage. Under Media Auto-Download, select the type of media for which you'd like to control data usage: Photos, Audio, Videos, and Documents. For each type, can select to automatically download media Never, only on Wi-Fi, or on both Wi-Fi and Cellular.

If you choose not to download multimedia items automatically, you can still download them manually even on a mobile data connection. In the WhatsApp chat area, there will be a placeholder for the item, which you can select to manually download it.

Restrict Your Chat Backup

WhatsApp allows you to back up your chats and media to the cloud. This means it will store copies of your text chats, images, and videos on your Google Drive or iCloud account. This feature helps if you prefer to hold onto old text conversations and downloads but don't want to keep all that data on your device.

You can only back up to Google Drive if you have an Android device, and you can only back up to iCloud if you have an IOS device.

You can instruct WhatsApp to hold off backing up your data until you are on a Wi-Fi network. To adjust this setting on an Android device go to Settings > Chats > Chat Backup, and select Wi-Fi instead of Wi-Fi or Cellular. On an iOS device, this setting must be done from the phone's settings: Go to Settings > Cellular > iCloud Drive and switch to Off.

You can also restrict the interval of your backups. In the Chat Backup menu, select Auto Backup and choose from the following intervals for your chats to be uploaded: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, of Off.

You can also control whether or not WhatsApp includes videos in its backup activity. Toggle Include Videos to On (green) to turn this option on.

By default, WhatsApp will not include videos, so be sure to turn this option on if you'd like to save your shared videos.

Monitor Your Data Consumption

Simply being mindful of your data consumption can as effective as any other method. WhatsApp offers some detailed statistics to give you an idea of how much data you're consuming.

In the WhatsApp menu, go to Settings > Data and Storage Usage > Network usage. You will see a rundown of how much cellular data you have used, organized by type. Select the Reset Statistics button to reset all values to zero and start counting from scratch. This will give you a better idea of how much data you're using, as well as how quickly you're going through it.

You can also control data usage through your OS settings. On an iOS device, go to Settings > Cellular. Here you can choose from a host of options to control data usage for your whole device or individual apps.

On an Android device, go to Settings > Data Usage. Here you can set a mobile data limit, beyond which your data will automatically turn off. Android also gives you a list of apps that consume mobile data, sorting them in descending order of data consumption. The top data consuming apps will appear at the top.

For both iOS and Android devices, you can choose to restrict background data, which means your device will bar apps from using mobile data when running in the background. Just be mindful that if you've turned off background data for WhatsApp then you will not be notified of messages or calls if you're not currently on a Wi-Fi network.