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. You can select which apps are allowed to use it, which helps control your monthly usage. WhatsApp is no exception. Here are four ways to optimize your mobile data use with WhatsApp.

The instructions in this article apply data management on both iPhone and Android devices.

Turn on Low Data Usage Mode

WhatsApp has an option that lowers data during chats and calls. Selecting it reduces the amount of data consumed, which reduces the audio and video fidelity of the calls you make. You can test the option by activating it, placing a call, then monitoring the change in quality.

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

To activate this data saving option, open WhatsApp, then from the three dot menu select Settings > Data and Storage Usage. Under Call Settings on iPhone, toggle Low Data Usage to On (green). On Android, look for the Use less data for calls option.

Low Data Usage setting in WhatsApp

Turn off Media Auto-Downloads

Like other messaging apps, you can use WhatsApp to share and receive images and videos. However, media consumes a lot of data. These files automatically download unless you tell WhatsApp otherwise. You can set the app to automatically download multimedia files only if you're on a Wi-Fi network.

To do this, open WhatsApp and select Settings > Data and Storage Usage. The Media Auto-Download section is where you select the types of media you want to download via mobile data or Wi-Fi. You can choose Photos, Audio, Videos, or Documents. Select the When using mobile data option and uncheck everything if you want to save the most data.

If you choose not to download multimedia items automatically, you can download these items manually on a mobile data connection. There will be a placeholder for the media in the WhatsApp chat area, which you can select to download it manually.

Restrict Your Chat Backup

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

You can only back up to Google Drive if you have an Android device. 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 > Back up over and select Wi-Fi instead of Wi-Fi or Cellular.

Backup settings in WhatsApp

On an iOS device, this setting must be adjusted from the phone's settings. Go to Settings > Cellular > iCloud Drive and switch to Off.

You can restrict the interval of your backups. In the Chat Backup menu on iPhone, select Auto Backup and choose from one of the following: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Off. On Android, first choose Back up to Google Drive and then you can select between Never, Only when I tap "Back up", Daily, Weekly, or Monthly.

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

By default, WhatsApp doesn't include videos. Turn on this option if you want to save your shared videos.

Monitor Your Data Consumption

Being mindful of your data consumption can be as effective as any other method. WhatsApp offers some detailed statistics on how much data you consume.

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

Network Usage menu in WhatsApp

You can also control data usage through the operating system settings. On an iOS device, go to Settings > Cellular. Here you can control data usage for the device or individual apps.

On an Android device, go to Settings > Network & internet > Mobile network > Data warning & limit. Here you can set a mobile data limit, beyond which your data automatically turns off. Android also lists apps that consume mobile data and sorts apps in descending order of data consumption.

For both iOS and Android devices, you can restrict background data, which means your device will prevent apps from using mobile data when running in the background. For Android 7.0 and higher, this is called Data Saver. It's in the Network & internet settings. When you turn off background data for WhatsApp, you're only notified of messages or calls when you're on a Wi-Fi network.

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