wifi hotspots

Limited WiFi Hotspots: The Best iPhone Tips for Travellers

When you’re close to reaching your data cap, it’s time to cut down on your data usage to avoid any extra charges. Many times this means restricting much of your data to Wi-Fi – but what if your Wi-Fi data is what’s limited? That’s where WiFi hotspots come in to save the day.

Around the world, WiFi hotspots at cafés, airport terminals, and hotels are becoming more and more common. The one problem? Even if they’re free, they can be limited by not only how much time you spend, but also (you guessed it) how much data you use. Unfortunately, your iPhone can’t tell the difference between your home network and one of these “metered connections.”  If you have been away from internet access for a while, your phone can be bursting at the seams with data it wants to unleash on the first Wi-Fi connection: including photos to upload, app updates to download, and incoming messages. Before you know it, your free internet access is no more.

The good news – you can do something to take back control of some of the most data hungry services on your iPhone. Here are some of the biggest culprits, and how to stop them in their tracks.

Photo syncing:

Photo syncing is one of the biggest users of Wi-Fi data. Your iPhone can take beautiful pictures, but with that comes large file sizes. Here is how you can disable some of the most common photo syncing apps to save your data:

Photo Stream: Under iPhone settings, scroll down and tap iCloud . In the iCloud menu, tap Photos and then slide My Photo Stream to off. If you have activated iCloud Photo Library, make sure to slide this off as well.

wifi hotspots

Drop Box: Open up Dropbox and tap on Settings in the bottom right corner. Tap Camera Upload and then slide it to off.

wifi hotspots

Facebook: Open up Facebook, and tap More on the bottom right. Scroll down and tap Photos. On the next screen, click Synced on the top right. You may have to scroll this menu over slightly to see it. Tap the settings gear on the top right and slide photo syncing to off.

wifi hotspots

App updates:

Since iOS 7, your apps can update automatically when you are connected to Wi-Fi. While this can be a convenient way to keep everything up to date, it can be a huge drain on your data. Here’s how to turn it off:

In iPhone Settings, scroll down and tap iTunes & App Store. Slide Updates to off.

wifi hotspots

Background App Refresh:

Apps can refresh their content in the background so that when you open them up, everything is preloaded. This is great when you’re multitasking, but not so great when you want to limit your data usage. Here’s how to turn it off:

In iPhone settings tap on General, and then Background App Refresh. Slide it to the off position on the next screen.

wifi hotspots


There are a lot of great podcasts out there but if you are subscribed to any, default settings on the Podcast app will have you downloading all of the new episodes you have missed once you connect to Wi-Fi. If you can’t miss an episode, leave it on. If you want to save the data, here is how you stop downloads:

In iPhone settings, tap on Podcasts. Tap on Download Episodes, and then select Off.

wifi hotspots

Note: In iOS, go to Settings > Podcasts > Auto-Downloads and select “off.”


Incoming email can add up, so when you want to limit data it is best to take control of when your phone downloads it. Here is how it’s done:

In iPhone settings, tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars. Tap on Fetch New Data. On the next screen slide Push to off, then tap on Fetch New Data and select Manually.

wifi hotspots

If you are going to be accessing your email, you can stop remote images from downloading by going back to the previous screen, and turning that slider to the off position.

A few more options:

The steps above will take care of the bulk of avoidable data, but if you are looking to stop a little more here’s a few more steps you can take.


Taking care of these biggest culprits will allow you to get the best use out your limited WiFi hotspots. Ultimately, it isn’t worth the effort to turn off every possible drop of data your phone could use, but you can rest easy knowing that your time to iMessage home won’t be cut short when you get the opportunity.

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