How to lower the WhatsApp data usage

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 20, 2017
Google Android

The following guide provides you with instructions on lowering the data usage of the popular messaging application WhatsApp.

Created for Android devices, you can use the guide if you run WhatsApp on another mobile operating system as well.

Applications that you run regularly on your mobile devices can use a considerable amount of data when they are running.

Many apps continue to run in the background once they have been started on a device. This is certainly true for most messaging applications, as they check regularly for new messages and other content to notify you the moment it is detected.

How to lower the WhatsApp data usage

whatsapp lower data usage

First thing you need to do is verify WhatsApp's data usage on your device. How that is done depends largely on your device. On my Xiaomi Mi4c, I select Security > Data Usage to find out about the data usage of the app. You may find data usage in a different location on your device, for instance under Networks > Data Usage.

If you cannot find that option, or don't have it, then you may need to install a third-party data tracking application. You can use My Data Manager for that for instance. I suggest you run it at least a week before you check WhatsApp's data usage during that time.

Once you have the number, you need to decide whether it is too high, or acceptable. If you think it is too high, you can modify some WhatsApp settings to lower the application's data usage.

  1. Select WhatsApp > Menu > Settings.
  2. Select the Data Usage menu when the Settings page opens.

There you find the following options to lower WhatsApp's data usage:

Configure media auto-download. You may configure this independently for mobile data, WiFi data, and roaming.

The default setting downloads photos when on mobile, all attachments when connected to a Wifi, and nothing at all when roaming.

To lower the usage, consider blocking all downloads from being processed automatically on mobile and / or on WiFi. The latter depends on whether the wireless networks that you connect the mobile device to are limited in regards to bandwidth.

Note that you may still download any attachment manually. WhatsApp displays a placeholder for attachments that have not been auto-downloaded by the app. A tap on the placeholder downloads the attachments to your device.

Low data usage. This setting enables the low data usage mode during WhatsApp calls. Please note that this goes hand in hand with a reduction in call quality. If you use WhatsApp for calls regularly, you may want to test the setting to see if you can live with the quality reduction, and whether reducing it has a big enough impact on the data usage of the app to make it worthwhile.

Chat Backup settings are another thing that you may want to check. While not configured by default to send data to a cloud provider, WhatsApp may be configured to do that.

Go to Menu > Settings > Chat > Chat Backup to get started. You find the "back up to Google Drive" option on the page. If it is enabled, consider disabling it as WhatsApp will transfer data to Google Drive regularly when it is enabled.

You may change other preferences there, for instance so that videos are not backed up to Google Drive, or the frequency of backups.

Closing Words

The settings that WhatsApp provides may help reduce the application's data usage. You may do your part as well, for instance by running WhatsApp only occasionally and not 24/7. While that may mean receiving some messages a bit later, it may have a positive impact on bandwidth usage.

Now You: Do you worry about mobile data usage?

How to lower the WhatsApp data usage
Article Name
How to lower the WhatsApp data usage
The following guide provides you with instructions on lowering the data usage of the popular messaging application WhatsApp.
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  1. Albert said on August 18, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the tip Martin.

    It is for these kinds of posts that I follow GHacks.

    1. Mike Williams said on August 26, 2023 at 8:55 pm

      What’s up with the generic comment, are you a bot?

  2. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:23 pm


    Where on the planet is that still in use? I was forced to give up using my RAZRV3 years ago because 2G was phased out by AT&T.

    1. arbuz said on August 20, 2023 at 5:02 pm

      Everywhere 3G has been turned off and you don’t have LTE coverage, and believe me there are many developed countries where this is the case and if it weren’t for 2G you wouldn’t even be able to make a phone call.

    2. Doc Fuddled said on August 31, 2023 at 5:55 pm

      Maybe I missed it, but I don’t believe tha term “2G” is in the article. Perhaps you are referring to “AGM G2”??

  3. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:27 pm


    Your website has gone insane.

    When I the post button I then saw my comment posted on a different article page. When I opened this article again, it is here.

    1. Martin P. said on August 31, 2023 at 4:39 pm

      @Tachy @Martin Brinkmann

      ” Your website has gone insane. ”

      Same here. Has happened several times.

      1. owl said on September 1, 2023 at 3:42 am

        @Martin P.,

        For over two weeks now,
        I’ve been seeing “Comments” posted by subscribers appearing in different, unrelated articles.
        For the time being,
        it would be better to specify the “article name and URL” at the beginning of the post.

  4. Anonymous said on August 18, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    @tachy a lot of non-phone devices with a sim in them rely on 2G, at least here in europe.
    Usually things reporting usage or errors/alarms on something remote that does not get day to day inspection in person. They are out there in vast numbers doing important work. Reliable, good range. The low datarate is no problem at all in those cases.
    3G is gone or on its last legs everywhere, but this stuff still has too much use to cancel.

    Anyhow, interesting that they would put that in. I can see the point if you suspect a hostile 2G environment (amateur eavesdroppers with laptop, ranging up to professional grade MITM fake towers while “strangely” not getting the stronger crypto voip 4G because it is being jammed, and back down to something as old ‘stingray’ devices fallen into the wrong hands).

    But does this also mean that they have handled and rolled out a fix for that nasty 4G ‘pwn by broadcast’ problem you reported earlier this year? I had 4G disabled due to that, on the off chance that some of the local criminals would buy some cheap chinese gear, download a working exploit and probe every phone in range all over town in the hope of getting into phones of the police.

  5. Andy Prough said on August 19, 2023 at 3:04 am

    >”While most may never be attacked in stingrays, it is still recommended to disable 2G cellular connections, especially since it does not have any downsides.”

    The downside would be losing connectivity. I spend a lot of time way out in the countryside where there’s often no service or almost none. My network allows 2G, and I need it sometimes. I have an option on the phone to disable 2G, I may do that when I’m in the city and I have good 5G connectivity, but not out in the country.

    I would imagine that the stingray exploits, like most of the bad things in this world, are probably things you will run into in the crowded big cities.

  6. owl said on August 21, 2023 at 3:40 am

    I stopped using it in a mobile (Wi-Fi line) environment, so I’m almost ignorant of the actual situation,
    But the recent reality in Japan makes me realize that “the infrastructure of the web is nothing more than a papier-mâché fiction”.

    It is already beyond the scope of what an individual can do.
    What we should be aware of is the reality that “governments and those in power want to control the world through the Web”, and efforts to counter (resist and prevent) such ambitions are necessary.

  7. Anonymous said on August 26, 2023 at 9:27 pm

    Why do you want people to disable the privacy features? Hmmmmm?

  8. Anonymous said on August 27, 2023 at 2:30 am

    Now You: do you plan to keep the Ads privacy features enabled?

    I’d like to tell you, but apparently if you make a post critical of Google, you get censored. * [Editor: removed, just try to bring your opinion across without attacking anyone]

  9. Tachy said on August 27, 2023 at 5:15 am


    You website is still psychotic. Comments attach to random stories.

  10. John G. said on August 28, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    @Martin please do fix the comments, it’s completely insane commenting here! :[

  11. ECJ said on August 28, 2023 at 5:37 pm


    The comments are seriously messed up on gHacks now. These comments are mixed with the article at the below URL.

    And comments on other articles are from as far back as 2010.

  12. Naimless said on August 29, 2023 at 12:57 am

    What does this article has anything to do with all the comments on this article? LOL I think this Websuite is ran by ChatGPT. every article is messed up. Some older comments from 2015 shown up in recant articles, LOL

  13. Paul Knight said on August 31, 2023 at 3:35 am

    The picture captioned “Clearing the Android Auto’s cache might resolve the issue” is from Apple Carplay ;)

  14. Anonymous said on August 31, 2023 at 9:57 pm

    How about other things that matter:
    Drop survival?
    Screen toughness?
    Degree of water and dust protection?

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