Tech Thursday: Why is your data disappearing?

Have you ever wondered why the data on your phone seems to disappear at different intervals? When you call your service provider they neither have an exact answer nor send you a detailed look at where this data could be going. This has been a trending topic countrywide prompting the #DataMustFall movement.

Last September, Vodacom executive Jannie van Zyl told Parliament that some of the reasons for data disappearing could be attributed to consumers’ changing cellphone habits, better phones and faster networks.

According to a study conducted by Research Company Tariffic, South Africa has the second highest data contract prices among the BRICS countries that were part of the study. These included Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Emerging African markets such as Kenya and developed first world markets like Australia were also compared. SA came second highest next to Brazil. This has sparked a countrywide outrage over data prices. One just need to look at twitter to see the dissatisfaction.

What are some of the causes of data “disappearing”

Data does not disappear. It is consumed by your handset so there could be a number of reasons that your data might be consumed quicker.

  • Apple IOS upgrade for example, can use up to 1GB of data without the knowledge of the cellphone holder.
  • Networks are much faster and can deliver an average speed of about 10-16Mbit/s, which means data is delivered a lot faster than before.
  • Handsets have the capability of delivering much higher quality content because they are able to display the data quicker so your videos, images and multimedia can use up more data than they did a few years ago.
  • Handsets have also got the capability to run multiple apps in the background with or without your knowledge causing the data to “disappear” at a faster rate.
  • Your social media activity on apps like Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp, can also contribute to you using more data because of the nature of the media exchanged between you and your contacts. For example, uploading 20 pictures to your profile or sending a video will use more data than a simple message.

How can you save data?

Analyse the network prices you pay for data, calls, network coverage and reliability. Most networks release their annual tariff prices and it’s important to take a look at what is on offer and switch networks if you are not satisfied.

Monitor and Disable data


If you only use your data for certain functions, head to your network settings and disable the data function until you really need it or use it at specific intervals.

Set-up data usage alerts and limits

Most Android phones with operating system 4.0 and later should allow you keep tabs on your data usage with a map of where you spend most of your data. You can set up alerts and limits so that your data never goes over a certain amount.

Disable data access according to apps

Most smartphones will give the option to disable data for certain data crunching apps.

Unsubscribe to your WASP

When you buy a new sim, most users are prompted to subscribe to a monthly Wireless Application Service Provider. This offers you network-based tracking, and ringtone and picture downloads for a monthly fee and could be a big reason for losing data over time.

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