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Tech tips for travel #16 - How to monitor your roaming mobile data usage

The two biggest things to roaming mobile mastery are:
1. Knowing what you are paying for what you are using
2. Knowing how much you are using

This post cover part 2 of that, specifically for mobile data usage when you are using a local or roaming card overseas.
Its actually a pretty simple but under utilised affair.

Basics
Before going into the specifics of how to monitor your usage it is important to have a good general understanding of what Apps and usage burns your data. I cover in the case examples page of my website some of these basics of what type of mobile usage consumes how much data. They are rough estimates, as it will always be different for different people on different device etc- but it starts to put you in the picture.

The main take aways are:
- emails and messages = light data usage
- pictures and image heavy websites = medium data usage
- video streaming/YouTube = heavy data burn

 
1. Monitor data natively
Most iPhones (and Androids) have a couple of native data monitoring functions.

The main one hides under Settings > Cellular
If you scroll down you can turn the data off on certain apps, and right down the bottom you can reset statistics.
The other one lives under Settings > General > About
On a hotspot such as the E5372, you can watch a data count on the display screen for each session (resets each time).

2. Use an app to monitor data

There are a few data monitoring apps out there including DataMan, Cellular Usage, and DataMan Pro.
I use the DataMan Pro, and find it the most reliable app out of a plethora of options, and its user interface easy to understand. One thing with most apps (I don't find it as bad with DataMan Pro), is that each time your phone is turn on/off they require you to reopen the app to set it going in the background.


3. Check your online account
Most SIM cards allow you to login online to a portal to manage your account.
Here you can obviously add more data bundles, credit and hopefully monitor your calls and data usage.
Be aware that the meter on these online portals is often 12 hours and up to 2 days behind your actual usage.
This is particularly important when you are getting close to your limits, and incur fees if you go over (less of a concern on prepaid as you shouldn't be allowed to use more than what you are allowed to).


So that sums up the basis of keeping an eye on data usage, and hopefully makes your next trip a bit easier!


What tricks or tips do you have for keeping an eye on roaming mobile data usage when overseas?

Written by Peter Cain

Peter Cain is the Founder and CEO of dataGO.co, a company committed to making it easier and cheaper to stay connected whilst travelling. You can find him on Twitter and Google+. You can also find dataGO on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+ for all the latest info on local and roaming SIMs and data hotspots.


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