Mysterious or Unknown iPhone Data Usage; How to Limit Data Transfer

Some users report significant data usage due to unknown causes, or seemingly excessive usage when performing tasks such as checking e-mail (one user reports the transfer of more than 1 MB of data even when no new messages are received).

A number of users report inexplicable, massive data transfers in the middle of the night, when the phone is not in use, and Push and automatic e-mail checking are turned off. Interestingly, several users have reported that the data transfer occurs at 2:30 AM EST (11:30 PST)–even when Wi-Fi is on (it appears that the iPhone may deactivative Wi-Fi during standby in some cases to save power).

To monitor your iPhone’s data usage, navigate to Settings > General > Usage. If you use AT&T, you can also check your usage for the month by dialing *3282# and pressing call, or download the free AT&T myWireless app for more detailed usage.


Turn off cellular data A obvious but effective method to avoid unwanted data usage is to simply turn off cellular data when the phone is not in use. To do so, go to Settins > General > Network and turn slide cellular data to off. Some users find it especially useful to toggle this setting off overnight.

Turn off 3G As a less-drastic fix, some users have reported that simply turning off 3G (switching to EDGE-only) results in elimination of the mysteriously large data transfers. To do so, go to Settings > Network and slide Enable 3G to off.

Delete then re-establish e-mail account Some users have reported that deleting then re-establishing some e-mail accounts can result in a dramatic reduction in data usage. To do so, navigate to Settings > Mail, Contacts and Calendars and select the desired account, then press the red delete button. Next, tap the “Add Account” button and reenter your account information.

Reset warnings Speculation holds that some instances of this issue may be due to transfer of diagnostic or other information. Try resetting warnings as described in this Apple Knowledge Base article, or opting out of iAds data collection for targeted ads and check for reduced data usage.


  1. Anne says

    My daughters phone is using excessive data. It used over 1000mb over night. I have contacted AT&T and they transferred me to apple. Apple said that the phone is working fine and AT&T took $150 off my last bill cycle but the problem is with my current bill cycle. I have already occurred about $250 in extra data charges. Everything is turned off. Only wifi is used, I have reset the phone I even reset to factory settings and the phone is still using data. Is there anyone who k bows how to stop this?

    • Barry Sirard says

      I cant help you, but I wanted to let you know that I am having the same problem with my wife’s phone. Our bills are not that high, but she is having extra data charges in the middle of the night while on wi-fi. We are getting charged for going over our limit and it is very annoying.

  2. kinthe orthwest says

    Today my data read 135 mb for over 29 days of use …5 hours later I’m getting a alert from my cell phone company that I’m over..Some how in 5 hours, (2of those hours my phone was in car not being used) I had used over 400 mbs…
    What the ?????

  3. Dewey says

    My daughters 1 cell phone has used up to 50 GB of data (not MB) and we also could not figure it out. We were given a credit as my bill went up $700 I hoped to stay around 7GB for her phone and in 2 weeks we are up to 18 GB, I only use 2-3 GB a month and we have deleted some apps and tried turning apps off constantly and nobody not even Apple or AT&T can figure out the problem? I have several family members on the plan of 40GB per Month and my daughters cell almost uses half of all the GB or sometimes all of it. All my other phones use 2-5GB a month and 1 even 7GB a month but none of the other used as much as her? Anybody know anything new? any ideas I can try?

  4. Teresa says

    I received a text from AT&T in October about mid-month that I was nearing the limit on my data plan; I had used about 65% of my monthy allotment of data for this billing cycle. No problem; I used my Wi-Fi at home and work and refrained from using Safari or checking e-mail anytime I had no Wi-Fi access.

    But the next day I was alerted that I had used 90% of my data plan and about six hours later I had exceeded my plan data amount. Wierd, I thought. I had not used the phone outside of my Wi-Fi area after I learned that I was at 65%. So I got hit with an additional $20 on my monthly bill.

    This month the same thing is happening again; I’m either going to Best Buy or the AT&T store and follow through on this.

  5. Jacque says

    Try this setting (iPhone 4S): SETTINGS, PRIVACY, ADVERTISING (@ bottom of menu). Turn on LIMIT AD TRACKING

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *