In a perfect world, everyone would have unlimited Wi-Fi. But that’s not the case. Mobile devices often prefer you to use Wi-Fi, but you can set a metered Wi-Fi connection on Android for better control over your data usage. You can set this on a single Wi-Fi network on multiple networks.
How Android Handles Metered Wi-Fi
Usually, large updates default to Wi-Fi on Android. The moment you connect, apps and even the system itself may try to update. This can quickly eat up your data, especially with larger system updates and apps. To help you avoid exorbitant charges, you can tell Android to treat Wi-Fi the same as mobile data.
When you’re connected to a metered Wi-Fi connection on Android, nothing downloads without your permission. Occasionally, a critical security update may still install, but this should be rare. Google sometimes pushes these updates despite the connection you’re on to keep users safe. I think I’ve only had this happen twice in the last eight years or so.
Individual apps are still an issue, though. For instance, social media apps don’t care whether your Wi-Fi plan is limited or not. There are settings in most social media apps to reduce usage, such as not auto-playing videos.
Set a Metered Wi-Fi Connection
The process varies based on the version of Android you’re currently running. Since I’m currently running Android 9, I’ll start with Android 9 and prior. It takes a few more steps, as Android hides the setting within Data Usage versus making it more obvious by having it within the Wi-Fi settings.
Open Settings on your Android device and tap “Network & Internet.”
Make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi. You can only set a metered connection while you’re connected to Wi-Fi. Any saved networks will appear for you to change, no matter which network you’re currently connected to. Tap “Data Usage.”
Tap the menu at the top-right corner and select “Metered Wi-Fi Networks.”
You can also check “Show Wi-Fi usage” from this menu if you want to view your Wi-Fi usage in the Data Usage window alongside mobile data. Turning this on is a good idea to quickly see which apps are using the most data so you can find an alternative or restrict data usage for the app if possible.
Toggle the network you want to restrict to on, and you’re done.
For Android 10, connect to WiFi and go to Settings. Tap “Network & Internet.” Select Wi-Fi.
Tap the network you’re currently connected to, then Advanced and select Metered. Choose “Treat as metered.”
As you can see, it’s easier to find the setting naturally in Android 10.
Save Your Wi-Fi Data
While there are quite a few ways to reduce data usage on mobile, many of those same methods work for limited Wi-Fi plans, too. A few more quick tips for saving even more data on a metered Wi-Fi connection on Android include:
- Use mobile data as much as possible if you have an unlimited data plan
- Avoid streaming and/or use streaming services with offline options
- Restrict background data usage on apps. (Settings -> Apps & notifications -> App info. Choose the app and tap “Data usage.” Toggle “Background data” to off and ensure “Unrestricted data usage” is off.)
- Play games that offer offline play to avoid data hungry ads
The most important step is to monitor your Wi-Fi usage and pay close attention to heavy usage apps. Best of all, prevent it from automatically turning on. This helps you avoid costly overages each month.
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