Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stop going over your data limit with this app

Have you ever gone over your data limit and ended up paying ridiculous overage charges?  In our family, I have an unlimited data plan but Sue only has 200 MB which we recently found out isn't going to cut it.

Before you jump to conclusions and call me a terrible husband, know that until recently, Sue always had easy access to WiFi connections throughout the day and never needed the 3G/4G connection that she gets through her trusty T-Mobile myTouch. 

In a few months we will be upgrading our plans but until then, we needed a way to monitor her data usage and keep track of apps that are data hogs.  Doing a little research, I came across Onavo and their data monitor apps for both iOS and Android.

The app provides some very useful features and is very easy to use.  The part I love about the app is that it tracks data usage for every app on your phone and will tell you which ones are data hogs.  When you find the offending apps, you can restrict it to download data only when on WiFi.  In my case, most of my data usage is from 3 apps - Pandora, Google Listen and gReader.  There isn't much I can do about Pandora but I can definitely set Google Listen and gReader to download podcasts and rss feeds only when on WiFi.

Here's a blurb about Onavo's Andorid app Data Monitor from their website:

Data Monitor for Android helps you control your 3G data and manage your data plan to avoid overages. With three beautiful widgets, tailored alerts, crowd sourcing engine and data blocking tools, Data Monitor will keep you safe from bloated data bills.


  • Widgets. A set of three widgets to keep you updated on data usage, including a world first Live Data Usage widget, showing which apps are using data right now.
  • Alerts and warnings. Receive status notifications about apps that are hogging your data, when approaching your data cap, or when traveling (data roaming). Data Monitor for Android will even predict when you will reach your monthly cap.
  • Data hog blocking. Restrict specific apps to WiFi, or block your 3G data altogether once you exceed your data cap to avoid any additional costs.
  • Crowdsourcing. Join the Onavo Android Community to tap into the collective wisdom of Android users everywhere. This will help you keep your mobile data in check, letting you know whether an app is safe to use as soon as you download it.
  • Advice. Get tailored tips on best value data plans from your carrier or other carriers, based on your actual usage.
  • Simple setup. Get going in seconds: Set your monthly cap, bill cycle and cost - and you’re good to go!


  1. All incoming data runs through their app. It's giving them access to everything you do.

  2. Hi M.Nash,

    Thanks for taking the time to post. I think data security and especially the protection of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) is something that we should all take very seriously.

    You are correct in saying that by using the app, you are giving them access to your data usage habits. However, per their terms, they don't peak into the data packets but rather general information about the services you use.

    "Onavo provides services for reducing data usage of certain mobile phones. To benefit from the Services and depending on the products you use, your access to the Internet through your mobile phone may be routed through Onavo's servers, which strive to reduce the volume of your downloads, and potentially your uploads as well. We may also collect information regarding your usage of applications and the consumption of data by such applications in order to provide you with detailed information with respect to the data consumption of applications that you use, and recommendations how to decrease such consumption.

    When you use the Services and depending on the product you use, Onavo may collect information, such as session durations, page impressions, details of your mobile operator, Internet protocol (IP) addresses, the domain name that served you to access the Services, and content types and origins.

    Onavo may also store information related to online data or metadata that is routed through Onavo's servers, such as webpages' addresses, structures, data fields, and images. However, Onavo will not store any content that you upload or download, such as message text, filled-in forms, and data that a website retrieved.

    The stored data will be attributed to you in person, only to the extent necessary to provide you the Services, as set in the following chapter. Thereafter, Onavo will anonymize the data and will not knowingly use the data to personally identify you."

    I don't think it's fair for us to single out one company for having access to our data usage habits. The reality is that without our knowledge most of our electronic communications and data exchanges are offering 3rd parties unprecedented access to our data.

    I believe that Onavo is a great app that can save many of us w/o unlimited data plans a ton of money. And yes, in exchange for that cost saving, we are providing them with access to our usage history.

    By using the app, we're giving the company a nod of confidence that they will abide by their terms. The company has been vetted by reputable organizations and is as trustworthy as any other tool that we give access to our daily life.

    For more information about their privacy policy, please go here:


Please share your thoughts with me... I would love to hear them!