In the USA, most internet data allowances are measured in Gigabytes. To put that number into perspective a typical high-quality movie file is around 1 GB. So if you downloaded one file a day every day of the month that would be 30GB worth of allowance used up - not including browsing and other downloads.


As we all know, downloading or uploading stuff on our phones can use up a lot of data. If you're not careful it's all too easy to rack up hundreds if not thousands of pounds worth of charges. Here are some tips for using Wi-Fi safely and saving yourself money on your phone bills:


1) Use the best browser possible


On Android, go to Google Play and download Chrome as soon as you can. On an iPhone, grab Google Chrome from the App Store. This browser is great because it lets you download files straight to your device so there's no need to upload them first - which usually takes way more time. This means that even when you're offline, you have access to everything at maximum speed!


2) Replace the stock Android browser with Firefox


Firefox is a great alternative to Chrome on Android. It doesn't handle downloads all that well but does let you increase the maximum number of simultaneous connections, which will speed up your browsing. Just download Firefox from Google Play and replace the stock browser with it, then restart your device for good measure.


3) Turn off automatic app updates


Automatic app updates are generally bad news - even worse when you're using mobile data because they can use so much of it so quickly. Make sure you turn them off in your phone's settings menu - most people don't have more than one or two apps that need updating anyway! Also, if you're an Apple user, turn off the iMessage auto-download. It won't affect your messaging capabilities but it will stop the majority of messages from using up your data allowance.


4) Check which apps are using an unusually high amount of data


Go to Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data Usage on Android or Settings > Mobile/Cellular Data on iOS and scroll through the list to see how much data each installed app has used since you last reset this menu. If there's anything in here that shouldn't be, either uninstall them or turn off background updates for them by going into their specific setting's menus.


5) Disable push email if quickly checking your emails is more important than battery life


If you often check your mail to: mails all day long, you'll know how quickly it can chew through your allowance. This is especially true for push email, which doesn't check your mail on a regular interval as normal email does. Instead, it actively checks as soon as you receive an email and will keep checking every few minutes until you go back to the mail app and manually refresh. To stop apps from updating in the background, go to Settings > Wireless & Networks (Android) or Settings > General (iOS) and scroll down to 'Background App Updates' where you'll be able to switch them off.


6) Turn roaming data off completely


Unfortunately, this isn't possible on iOS devices but if you have an Android then going into Settings > More > Mobile Networks will let you turn mobile data off when abroad - creating a secure connection to free Wi-Fi instead. You can also turn mobile data off manually when you don't need it by going into the settings menu and switching 'Data' off.


7) Turn on airplane mode when your phone is charging


Most new Android devices have built-in power saving modes that automatically put your device into airplane mode when it's on the charge, meaning you can still use your device while it charges without using up any battery power or allowance. In some cases, this means you may not even be able to receive calls while charging - but if you need to stay reachable, switch airplane mode off by going to Settings > Wireless & Networks (Android) or Settings > General (iOS).


8) Designate certain times of day as 'wifi only'


Similar to the airplane mode switch above, Apple and Android devices both let you set certain networks as a priority. So if your home wifi is on the list and you accidentally leave mobile data switched on (which you generally should), then your device will automatically fall back on to wifi when it's in range. This can be useful for those who have a limited allowance or just want to save battery life by cutting out mobile data from their phone usage whenever they're at home.


Online activities use a variety of data, and not all online activities consume the same amount. The following are some of the most data-intensive things you can do:


1) Watching videos online


One of the most obvious is streaming video online. While this becomes less of an issue on mobile devices than on computers and laptops, it still takes up a significant amount of data and should be regarded as such if you're watching while out and about or commuting home from work.


2) Downloading apps & games


Some can be quite data-intensive - particularly games with HD graphics and high-quality soundtracks. If that Angry Birds addiction has become something more than an occasional treat then you'll want to download other games that don't need internet access to play since these will take up much less data. The same rules apply for downloading apps for your smartphone too Advice varies but generally speaking, you shouldn't be downloading any apps over 3MB in size while you're on the go.


3) Online shopping


The heavier your internet usage, the more data it will take up - and that includes online shopping. While browsing for new items to buy, consider only buying them if they're available on a site where you won't have to use mobile data to process your order. This could mean going to a different website or checking out from your computer instead of using your phone at work since both these options bypass mobile data altogether so won't risk racking up huge bills on the bus home.


4) Playing games online


It isn't just an excess of emailing and social networking which can result in high phone bill charges if you're out of your package allowance. Online games - including MMORPGs and virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Gaia Online - can be a huge drain on data if you spend hours playing them every day.


5) Watching videos online


Similar to the above but this time its video clips instead of streaming TV episodes or movies. If YouTube is your online entertainment staple then consider saving your favorites offline to watch them when you don't have internet access e.g. on the tube home from work etc.


6) Signing up for game trials


A lot of free-to-play online games let you sign up for free trials so that you can test them out before committing any money. That sounds like a good idea - but it's important to remember that the vast majority of these sites require you to be online to play them. If your trial turns out not to be your cup of tea, then you will have wasted data on something that wasn't of any use.


7) Browsing images & videos


Since they're less time-intensive than video clips or streaming TV episodes or movies, browsing pictures and viewing funny or interesting videos isn't necessarily careful with your data allowance. But if you do this excessively (particularly using sites such as Tumblr ) now is the perfect time to cut back since spare mobile data can easily mount up if you go overboard.


Conclusion

As you can see, many online activities will use up your data allowance - but there are ways of reducing the number of bytes that you're downloading. Saving pictures and videos offline is one way; switching to apps that allow you to play games without an internet connection is another.


The key thing to remember is that it's not just activities such as downloading music or streaming TV programs or movies that can eat into your phone bill charges. As long as the internet is involved in some way, then using it excessively has the potential to result in high fees being added to your monthly bill at the end of the month.