Do you often avoid unnecessary downloads and live streams to limit data usage on your Android device? But can't figure why a large volume of your mobile data still rapidly goes down the drain?

Here's the thing: some apps suck up data regularly, even when you're not actively using them. But no worries, Android provides a way to stop any app from using data in the background. Third-party apps can even make this a lot easier and expand your options.

Here are the various methods for how to restrict data usage on Android.

Android's Built-In Option to Restrict Background Data

You can restrict apps from using data on Samsung, Google, OnePlus, or any other Android phone with these steps:

  1. Head over to your phone Settings. You can do this by swiping down from the top of your phone's screen. Then tap the settings icon at the top-right corner.
  2. Go to Network & Internet > Data usage. You'll see the amount of data you've used at the top of that menu.
  3. Select App data usage to see how much data each app has used recently.
  4. Check through the list and tap the app that uses the most data. For instance, you may be surprised how much data YouTube alone uses.
  5. Toggle off Background data to turn off cellular data for specific apps.
  6. Turn off Unrestricted data as well if it's not off already. That keeps the app in check when data saver is active.
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These steps enable you to block bandwidth-heavy apps like YouTube from using mobile data, and restrict apps to Wi-Fi only.

However, if you're more desperate to keep your data use in check, head back into the Data usage menu. Select Data Saver. Then toggle on Use Data Saver. That option restricts your overall use of mobile data.

Set a Data Warning and Usage Limit

While the above are significant steps for restricting your mobile data usage, you should consider setting a data warning and usage limit as well. To do this:

  1. In your phone's settings menu, tap Network & Internet.
  2. Go to Data usage > Data warning and limit.
  3. Toggle on Set data limit.
  4. Go to Data limit. Select either GB or MB from the dropdown. Then set a value for your data usage limit.
  5. Toggle on Set data warning as well.
  6. Tap Data warning. Then enter a data warning value.
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When you set a data limit, it automatically turns off your mobile data when your data usage reaches the value you specified. Data warning only tells you that your data usage has hit the threshold you set earlier.

However, the data warning value should be within the range of your data limit. But you might want this value to be a little closer to the data limit value.

The Third-Party Option to Restrict Data Usage on Android

Although there are other third-party options that can help you keep your data usage in check, we recommend using NetGuard.

NetGuard is a firewall app that not only prevents apps from using cellular data but can also stop them from connecting over Wi-Fi. In essence, it lets you choose which app connects to the internet and which shouldn't.

So, in addition to saving your mobile data, these features reduce bandwidth, saves battery life, and can help you prevent app notifications, pop-ups, and ads.


Download: NetGuard (Free, in-app purchases available)

How to Limit App Data Usage With NetGuard

NetGuard displays all your apps in alphabetical order. Next to each app are toggles for Wi-Fi and mobile data. So you can disable access by tapping either or both connection types as you prefer.

In short, to limit mobile data use for an app, tap the cellular data icon to its extreme right.

Otherwise, tap the Wi-Fi icon immediately next to it to restrict the app from running on a Wi-Fi network. Select both icons to stop an app from using data at all.

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For more specific controls and exceptions, tap the dropdown arrow to the left of each app.

From there, after selecting your preferred connection type, you can then choose to allow the app to use cellular data when the screen is on, block data when roaming, or allow it in lockdown mode.


For simplicity, the app doesn't display pre-installed apps. However, to allow NetGuard display system apps:

  1. Tap the three vertical menu dots at the top-right corner of the screen.
  2. Select Settings > Advanced options.
  3. Toggle on Manage system apps.
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You can limit data usage on specific mobile network connections if need be. Or you can allow unlimited use on 3G but limit LTE or 5G. There are settings for Wi-Fi as well, in case you're dealing with a metered connection.

To access these options, go to Settings > Network options, then toggle on or off the available options in that menu as you like.

NetGuard's options aren't limited to blocking mobile data only. You can also use it to monitor when apps attempt to access the internet. That can give you insight into what your phone's apps are doing.


Enabling these settings can protect you from surprises when you unknowingly install things like games that require an internet connection. However, remember that you can download games that don't require an internet connection as well.

Take Control of Data Usage and Save Money

Failure to manage data usage on your Android device can result in extreme data drain. However, putting your data usage in check can be helpful, especially if you can't afford unlimited data plans, which are quite expensive and unavailable in some places.

If you need more alternatives, you can also check out some extra tips for curbing heavy data usage to save money.

Image Credit: Ash Kyd/Flickr

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