We live in a data-driven society. Network speeds are becoming faster, storage capacities larger, and smartphone capabilities smarter – all of which has contributed to data consumption levels hitting an all-time high.

And while most of us will put this down to an increase in activity, there are also a few lesser known factors that could be sapping your personal data allowance without you even realising it.

Here are some of the most common culprits:

Autoplay videos

Video content is now dominating our social media feeds, with the footage set to start rolling as soon as we scroll across it. While browsing social media sites like Facebook doesn’t typically use much data, video streaming does, so make sure you turn off the autoplay function in the in-app settings. It’s also possible to set apps like YouTube to stream lower quality videos – you might not notice a dramatic difference on screen, but it could save you up to 50 per cent data usage per video.

Music streaming

Even if you’ve pre-downloaded playlists from sites like Spotify, or you only listen to them while you’re connected to Wi-Fi, there’s a chance your phone is still streaming them via your mobile network. To be on the safe side, head into your settings where you’ll be able to select the option for specific apps to only work over Wi-Fi.

Email

The sheer quantity of emails we send and receive on a daily basis can be enough to eat into significant amounts of data, particularly given that these messages might contain large file attachments. To reduce the impact of email on your data usage, try reducing the download frequency to every hour or even manually. Go to the Mail section within your Settings menu and change your Fetch New Data selection. For those who prefer to keep email downloads up to date, another option is to choose for attachments to only download when you have a Wi-Fi connection.

Background app refresh

Even when you’re not actively using an app, it will often continue to update in the background – and secretly drain your data. Put a stop to this by turning off the Background App Refresh function on the apps you don’t want working overtime. If you have an iOS phone, head to the General section on the Settings menu. If you’re on Android, use the Data Saver to pick and choose the apps where you want to restrict data consumption.

Automatic updates

Your apps are continually being improved by developers, which means regular updates to the software. If these are set to download automatically onto your phone, they can eat up some serious amounts of data, so disable automatic updates on iOS via the iTunes & App Store option on the Settings menu. For Android users, go into Settings within Google Play, where there’ll be an Auto-update option you can alter.

Wi-Fi Assist

If you use an iOS device, it’s important to be aware of the Wi-Fi Assist feature. Wi-Fi Assist helps you to stay connected to the internet by automatically switching to your mobile network if a poor Wi-Fi connection is detected. While this feature can be useful, you might use more mobile data than you think. This feature is enabled by default upon updating to iOS9 or later, however it can easily be disabled by turning off Wi-Fi Assist in Settings > Mobile.

A few small changes like these can go a long way towards helping you conserve your valuable data. To keep an eye on your monthly usage, make sure you’re using Telstra’s self-care tools, like the free 24×7 app and your online My Account. Both options give you full visibility of the data you’ve used and what’s still in the bank, so check in regularly to avoid any unexpected billing surprises. We’ll also send you SMS notifications when you’ve hit 50%, 85% and 100% of your monthly allowance, so you know exactly where you stand and whether you might need to rein in your online activity to avoid additional charges.

And remember, eligible Telstra mobile and broadband customers can access free Wi-Fi data in more places with unlimited Wi-Fi at more than 1 million Telstra Air hotspots around Australia, plus millions of Fon hotspots overseas.