I bought an Android mobile couple of months back and got the GPRS activated. Since then my monthly bill has shot up significantly even though I use internet on mobile mostly with Wi-fi (95% of time) and the rest 5% is used from mobile data network to access some Google searches which should not consume much data.
Initially, i did not worry much about the increased charges but when i continued for subsequent months, i started to feel uncomfortable as i was paying for something which i was not even using! I called up mobile operator's customer care and asked for the reason behind data charges even though i did not use internet on mobile network. They were unable to explain the reason as their system only showed that data was indeed used and transferred.
I decided to dig more and found that there are many settings which may be playing the culprit along with certain applications in Android. It is difficult to catch hold of the culprits in your mobile manually. So, i found a decent application called Onavo for Android which is an expert in capturing the data usage. It is also available for iPhone and iPad.
I was shocked to see the results after couple of days of its install. Even though i did not use internet explicitly, there were many things running in the background which were silently eating into my data bandwidth.
The biggest of them was DRM Content Manager. It was consuming MBs of data everyday along with good amount of battery power.
DRM Protected Content Storage is a native Android service. It's a background loop service that runs whenever the display is active to insure that content with DRM is allowed to run and display. It runs in background and normally performs following tasks which essentially makes use of internet without your explicit knowledge:
- Registering a user or a device with an online DRM service.
- Retrieving license constraints for rights-protected content.
- Checking whether a user has the proper rights to play or use rights-protected content.
Not all applications in your mobile may use this DRM service but the ones who use it may stop working if you stop this service. Hence, the other option to save on Mobile data bandwidth is to restrict this service to Wi-Fi using the Onavo application.
The beauty of Onavo is that it allows to restrict the internet usage by individual applications with Wi-fi. i.e. The application will be stopped from making any internet connection if you are NOT using Wi-fi saving you from unsolicited data transfer. I enabled Wi-Fi setting for DRM content manager to avoid unintended data transfer from mobile network.
BackGround Data Sync: This was the second highest data consumer in my case and holds good for most of us. If this setting (Settings->Accounts And Sync->general Sync Setings->BackGround Data) is enabled, all your applications like Gmail, Yahoo mail or any other applicatioins would get the liberty to update themselves anytime unles you have configured their own Sync settings explicitly at application level. Disable this setting while on Mobile data and enable while using Wi-Fi to save data usage.
Almost all applications have their regular update feature enabled. i.e. they will update themselves by connecting to inetrnet after a pre-defined period of time. It is important to get the updates on time but the problem is that updates are high data consuming activities.
Make sure that you get the updates when you are on Wi-Fi to save costs.
- Others: Apart from the above, the data usage was quite nominal for other application activities. Some of the native applications like Phone dialer, call settings, settings and Task manager were also using some internet data (in KBs) nd i frankly could not understand the reason as to what are they transferring over web? I am trying to dig more into it and will write my analysis soon.
Be smart with your SmartPhone to avoid it taking your pocket for a ride! If you are looking at blocking GPRS completely and only use internet when you are connected to Wi-Fi, you should disable the following configuration value:
Go to Settings->'Wireless and Network'->'Mobile Networks'->'Use packet Data'.
Diable the 'Use packet Data' to stop your GPRS/3G use. Once you do this, Android will not let any application use GPRS.