How to Troubleshoot Data-Gobbling iPhone Apps

In a world of capped data plans with your smartphones, it’s becoming more important to manage your precious available data and clamp down on rogue apps that are eating it all up. Ignoring your data usage can result in large overage fees on your phone bills.

For example, my lovely child has her own iPhone and she downloaded an app that lets you watch Nickelodeon videos. She chewed up 2 GB of data in three days. This blog post will teach you how to never let that happen, so you don’t have to learn the hard way like I did.

To prevent data from being gobbled up, you need to look at your phone’s historical values and see what apps are using the most data. If you’re on wireless in your home or elsewhere, data is not an issue. It’s only when you’re on cellular that this matters.

Here’s how to check.

Round Up the Suspects

To figure out which iPhone apps are the culprits, go to Settings > Cellular.

iPhone Settings screen

Here you can see a listing of all your apps and how much cellular data each one is using.

Cellular settings screen on iPhone

In order to prevent an app from working on cellular, slide the toggle button to off. For example, I don’t want Netflix to be streamed over cellular, so I turned it off. If someone tries to use Netflix on cellular, the following message appears:

Notification message saying cellular data is turned off on iPhone

Downloading apps can take up a lot of space as well. I’ll turn that off so apps cannot be downloaded over cellular. I will do the same for Pandora.

Enable Restrictions

Once I’ve locked the phone down the way I want it, I can enable restrictions by performing the following:

  • Go to Settings > General > Restrictions.
  • Tap Enable Restrictions.
  • Set a 4-digit passcode.
  • Confirm 4-digit passcode.
  • Scroll down under Restrictions and select Cellular Data Use.
  • Select Don’t Allow Changes.

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The next time someone tries to listen to music through Pandora on cellular, they will get the same message saying that cellular data has been turned off for the app. If they go to Settings to turn it on, they will see that it is not accessible due to restrictions.


You don’t need to spend money on some monthly monitoring tool. You can simply use what Apple has provided. By regularly reviewing your apps, you can determine the data hog and shut it down.

If you’re on a family smartphone plan and have children, this is a great tool to monitor your child’s usage. After I figured out Nickelodeon was the data glutton, I reviewed my daughter’s apps and then turned off App Store on cellular in addition to Nickelodeon. Problem solved.

Cellular Data usage screen on iPhone

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