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Microsoft looking into alleged 3G data leak, possible solution found for some

Following on from a previous article we published about an abnormal amount of data being used by Windows Phone 7 devices when idle, the BBC have reported that they have been informed by Microsoft with a status - they are investigating reports.

Some have calculated that their phones send "between 30 and 50MB of data" each day, an amount that even a heavy Internet user would have slight difficulty reaching. I use my Samsung Omnia 7 on the go with web browsing, email (three accounts set to push) and apps, I can't seem to hit 20MB, let alone double that amount.

It is interesting to see that the majority of complaints of the problem are from the US, with WP7 user Julie informing Paul Thurrott:

I received an e-mail from AT&T saying that I was close to my 2GB data limit which truly shocked me as I feel I do not use data that much, I went and looked at my AT&T account online and noticed that my phone was sending huge chunks of data seemingly in patterns.

Another reported that they had noticed their device "idle data usage is around 2-5MB per hour", which is frightening when taking into account that contracts are normally capped, and people wouldn't mind using their phones for more than two minutes each day without adding more charges to their bill.

There could, however, be a fix for those who are experiencing phantom data usage. Bil Simser explains (what many have suggested to try) that turning off the feedback option in the WP7 settings area could drastically drop the amount of data that your phone uses. Have you tried the solution, and what results did you find? Do you believe that data caps by network providers are too low for smart phones?

Source: BBC, Fear & Loathing

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Reader comments

Microsoft looking into alleged 3G data leak, possible solution found for some

13 Comments

I'm in Canada. I leave the feedback option on. I rarely go over 10-20MB a day.It is interesting that most of the reports are coming out of the US, but then again, that's probably where the userbase is largest.

That is one of the perks of sticking to Windows Mobile phones. I can turn off my data connection so I am not always tethered to the web. I am wondering, can I turn off or disconnect from the web in Windows Phone 7? I know that iPhone and Android devices are always on the net for the push notifications. I would like to be on the cell data network at will rather than always be on.

I originally notice this data problem also when I bought my HTC Surround on ATT on Nov 8th. Looking at my detailed plan on ATTs website showed random spikes including overnight when the phone was not in use. Since your last article about this problem (I believe a week or two ago) I checked my settings and noticed under "phone update" I had the box checkmarked stating "Use my cellular data connection to check for updates". After unchecking this, I have noticed a noticable difference in the reduction of data usage. Anyone else with this data problem check this setting and try it for a couple days and see of you notice a difference. Cheers

Turned off feedback (both options) last night, restarted after making the change, and just checked; used 31MB in 24 hours with WiFi on 24/7 and only left the house for about 1 hour today and never took the phone out of my pocket. Based on my usage since turning on WiFi 24/7 at the start of this billing cycle (18 days ago) I am averaging about 28MB of data per day. Just turned off "Use cellular data for phone update" that moverweg suggested and will see how that goes. Using all the features of WP7; Facebook, weather updates, Beezz, 3 email accounts, etc., and I know things update over 3G when the phone is sleeping, but today was a slow email day, so not much happening in the background. Did a bunch of news reading and IE browsing, but that should have all been over WiFi. I have an unlimited data plan so not concerned, but if info is being uploaded it has to be putting a hit on my Surround battery, which is not all that big to start with. Would rather use the little juice I have on things I want to do.

I've read some folks in forums say that the few megs per hour is due to IMAP mail that doesn't support push (missing the option to download mail as they arrive). One such email provider is Yahoo. Apparently the phone downloads large chunks data from the server at the predefined interval (e.g., every 15 minutes) even if there is no new mail.I'm not sure if this is confirmed, but it appears many people who are affected list Yahoo as one of their mail accounts. Maybe someone here can investigate.When the phone is running on battery and it goes on standby, it doesn't stay connected to wifi and 3G is being used. So one possible solution (not ideal, obviously) is to keep the phone plugged in so it stays connected to wifi.It'll be interesting what Microsoft finds out.

It's got to be an imap account that doesn't support push (the download mail as they arrive option). Yahoo is one of them. See mparker's comment below...

What's annoying is that every time you switch off and then back on, the feedback is switched back on by default so keep this in mind. Also, the "use cellular for phone updates" might be sending data.

The simple thing for MS to do if they can't figure out the problem is to just change the setting that makes the phone not use wifi one min after the screen goes off so it falls back to 3G. Just let the user set it in the wifi options, I mean if the phone is plugged in it uses wifi regardless of if it's locked or not but people don't want to be connected all the time they're just walking around the house or work.Just add the option to keep wifi connected when the screen locks for specific networks so that it doesn't do it all the time and kill your battery.That way when it's on my home or work wifi it'll stay on but if I'm out somewhere and find a hotspot it'll shutoff after to save battery.

I have lost count of the number of times I have turned off the Feedback option in settings. I think that each time I download a new app it gets turned back on. Anyone else seen this? I cant comment on the data use as my provider dosen't tell me how much I have used.

I had high data use the first few days, until I stopped fetching from the yahoo account. I added a second live account and got it to pull the email from yahoo then push it to the phone. With two email addresses and feedback turned on, and minimal WIFI use I'm running about 270mb/month (so close to the cheap plan, but so far away!)I think Yahoo is just shoving up the full email history (7 days, two weeks, whatever you have selected) every time it's polled. Fortunately the workaround is pretty easy.

Is this a real issue? I've been comparing my wife's data usage on an iPhone 3G to my WP7 Focus, and the one thing that really stands out isn't the volume of data overall, but how its being reported. We've historically used about the same amount of data prior to my replacing my iPhone 3G with WP7. Pretty much email, facebook, web browsing and occassional app downloads. We both leave wifi on, and so take advantage of it whenever its available (ie home and work).With my wife's iPhone, ATT.com data detail shows many small line items... dozens of "50kb", "120kb" etc, occuring on the same day. Totaling 66 MB so far this month.The data detail report for my win phone shows only 1 or 2 line items per day... even though I'm actually using the phone throughout the day off and on. The last 6 days of the report, 1/5 to 1/11, each have a single entry of 11:55pm, using between 4 MB and 19 MB. I'm 100% sure I used plenty of data throughout each of those days. Totalling 72 MB so far this month.I don't know that this is a real issue, but rather a peculiarity of how data is being reported by att.com. My wife and I used about the same data before I went to wp7, and we still use about the same amount after I went to wp7... and yet I'm still seeing this large late night data usage people are complaining about.That makes me wonder if its just ATT.com's reporting tool - because its NOT reporting transfers at times I know I made them (downloading some games). My usage did spike after I got wp7, but I imagine that's because I've been downloading every app under the sun. Now that I've settled into the phone, I've seen my data usage tapering off to maybe 10-15% higher than my iPhone usage was.Just food for thought.