Browsing beautiful but data-heavy website can take a toll on your data plan. The Verge’s full site steals away anywhere between 2-3 MB every time you hit reload. 80%, 50% or even 20% data saving in such cases can prove to be a big help.
In this article we discuss can save on your 3G/LTE data allowance not only when browsing the web but also using data heavy applications like Instagram and Facebook on your iPhone or Android device.
Chrome – Reduce Data Usage
If you use Chrome browser on your iPhone or Android device to browse the web, data savings are just a setting away. Go into Settings -> Bandwidth and turn on Reduce data usage option.
Now, Google will route all the content you browse through its servers, compress it and deliver it to you.
Opera – Off The Road
Opera and its companion browsers like Opera Mini and Classic are some of the most used browsers in developing countries. They are operable on low end Android devices and even help you compress data.
Launch the app and tap the Opera logo (O) on the top right and from the menu just turn on the Off-Road mode.
Opera, just like Chrome, will now route your data to their services and serve you the compressed form.
The Off-Road feature is only available in the Opera Android app.
A Word About Privacy
When you use web browsers to route your data to their servers and compress it for you, you are giving them the right to see everything you do. Of course, passwords and sensitive data is encrypted (HTTPS pages do not go through proxy), but they will know which pages you visit. A year ago, this would have been a big issue.
But now, with what we know about the NSA, it doesn’t seem as threatening (I mean, you can’t do anything about it, can you?). However, in this situation, you are in control as turning off the feature is easy.
Onavo Extend (iPhone, Android) does exactly the same thing that Chrome compression does but on the device level. That means that no matter what app you use to talk to the internet – Instagram, Facebook or Twitter – the data will be compressed by Onavo and you’ll be saving on your data allowance every time you go online.
Onavo does this by installing a VPN profile on your phone. The process of doing so on iPhone and Android is quite easy. Press Install, allow permission and you are done. Onavo’s intro pages guide you through it very well.
Now, every time you see a VPN logo besides your 3G/data indicator on the status bar, that’s Onavo working in the background.
So far, I’ve been really impressed with Onavo Extend. I thought that because the data was routed through an extra layer of servers, the internet speed will be lower than usual. I was wrong.
Especially in data heavy apps like Instagram where I usually have to wait for a couple of seconds for the app to download the images, I was shocked to see it update my feed almost instantly after launching the app. On the flip side, if your internet connection is really fast (LTE), you might see a slight drop in speed.
And this doesn’t stop at Instagram. No, this benefit extends to every app I use. In countries like India, where 3G data plans are still pretty expensive, Onavo is a (insert your preferred God)sent.
Another Word About Privacy
Onavo collects your data to improve its services and because personal and analytical data of how you use an app is one of the most valuable commodities on the internet.
Now, if you go into Settings -> Legal and Privacy and turn on the Opt out option, your data will only be used internally by Onavo to improve their products and won’t be used for Research and Analysis which extends to any company that comes into its legal network, i.e. Facebook.
Right now, this is all you can do.
The privacy issue aside, which you can fix partly, there’s not much to complain about Onavo. It’s a business based in a capitalist economy and a company’s got to eat.
Let us know how much data you are saving with these apps or what’s your stand on the privacy issue in the comments below.
Top image credit: Blaise Alleyne
Last updated on 03 February, 2022
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