iPhone Sudden Increase in Data Usage – UPDATE

I barely ever crack 1 gig of data usage on my phone. So, why am I suddenly going over 2 gigs ten days into my billing cycle?

I’ve had an iPhone for as long as I can remember. I do play a few games on it (Chess, Backgammon, etc.), but I’ve never gone over my plan unless I was playing Pokemon Go. Don’t judge. I make Pokemon Footbags, so it was research (he-he). But still, that’s over a year ago and my phone has been fine.

Two months ago towards the end of my billing cycle there was a burst of data usage out of nowhere. And in the wee hours of the morning. Upwards of 200 megabytes were being used seemingly while I was asleep. I had done one thing new. I was working for someone and using the app Toggle to clock my time. I assumed the overage was happening because I was using this app while working in an environment without Wi-Fi. But after the alert that my phone was using too much data I tuned it off and stopped using it.

Next billing cycle, only days in, I got another alert that I had already used most of my data and would be charged for the overage. I called Verizon, my cellular phone company, and spoke with a woman there about what was going on. She said it did seem very odd since my history showed so little usage, but she couldn’t tell me specifically why my phone was doing this and why just early in the morning.

I really didn’t know what to do. I’d never had to go in and tweak settings on my phone, so I searched some online forums. My first guess was that Verizon was trying to squeeze money out of me, but there are three other phones in my house and they were fine. Plus, a lot of people were experiencing the same issue with other phone companies.

I started by turning off apps on my that I know I don’t use. I even turned my phone off before going to bed at night just in case it was an issue specific to the time of day. That didn’t help. Even after turning off apps and turning my phone off before going to bed the issue persisted. I then kept my phone off entirely for days, only turning it on in fifteen minute intervals to check it for text messages. The increase in data usage would then happen while the phone was on during that short period of time. I did notice every time I turned my phone on, I’d get an alert that a text message was unable to send to someone over 2, 000 days ago! I removed the text thread entirely from my phone, and yet it would still pop up on my phone, just without the name of the person. It showed me their phone number instead. But was this my problem? I couldn’t yet know. I backed up my phone, ran a malware scan on my computer and figured my last resort would be to reset the iPhone and start over.

But I’m not quite ready to do that. As it stands I’ve had the phone on for one full day after turning Cellular Data off. Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data > Toggle off. I checked my data usage online and it appears to be next to nothing again. After doing this for a few days I’m going to turn Cellular Data On and Reset Statistics, then wait one full day and see which apps are pulling the most data. I also force closed apps on my phone by going to the Home Screen, hitting the Home button twice (mine is an older iPhone), then scrolled through open apps and swiped up on the ones I want closed. There were a lot of apps open.

I’m going to add to this as I go because there has to be a reason and a fix. That’s my thinking, anyway.

There is a great article with a few takeaways.

Hit by data overages at Verizon, AT&T? Here’s what we’ve learned

In this article I noted a few things:

Most complaints have involved accounts with more than one phone. A handful have involved businesses. None of the huge overages we’ve heard of involved individuals with one phone line on their account.

Some iPhone users were hit late last year or earlier this year with a new setting that Apple introduced, called Wi-Fi Assist. The setting allows the phone, not the customer, to decide if it doesn’t like the strength of a Wi-Fi connection and then switch the phone — without the customer’s permission — from free Wi-Fi to costly data. It comes default “on” for iPhones.

We also learned there are a few other settings people should check on their phones: Background App Refresh, Cellular Data and Location Services. These should be turned off on apps that you don’t want to use data. This move won’t affect the apps’ ability to use Wi-Fi.

Basically, something fishy is going on and I’d really like to get to the bottom of it. I enjoy my iPhone. I do not want to keep having this issue.

[UPDATE: Ultimately, Wi-Fi Assist was deciding I didn’t have a strong enough signal (mostly in the wee hours of the morning) for performing certain tasks. It’s been several days and I’ve turned Cellular Data on (Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data > Toggle on) and Wi-Fi Assist off (Settings > Cellular > Wi-F- Assist> Toggle off) , and I did force shut down apps I wasn’t using by going to the Home Screen, hitting the Home button twice (mine is an older iPhone), then scrolling through open apps and swiping up on the ones I wanted closed. I’ve ceased having overage issues, so far.]

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