How to prevent Android apps from automatically updating over mobile data

Android keeps all of your apps up to date with minimal effort. Unfortunately, the update process can be aggressive and can use up all of your mobile data.

Most Android apps are at least 60MB in size and can generate up to several gigabytes for games. Before you know it, these auto update apps can clear your mobile data limits.

Automatic update of Android apps on mobile data

By default, most Android phones are set to automatically pick up the latest app updates when connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi.

Fortunately, it’s possible to configure your phone to download updates only over a Wi-Fi network. Here’s how to regain control over how your phone uses mobile data.

How to turn off the automatic update feature of the Google Play Store

Android treats system updates and app updates differently. System updates include newer versions of Android, updated security definitions to protect your phone from viruses, and more. These are set, by default, to be downloaded only over Wi-Fi, and you should never turn them off.

However, apps, including the preinstalled ones, are updated using the Google Play Store or any manufacturer-specific app store you own. Turn off automatic updates for Wi-Fi apps by following these simple steps:

Step 1: Tap the Google Play Store app on your phone.

2nd step: Tap your profile picture located at the top right of the screen.

Select the Playstore

Select the profile picture icon

Step 3: select the Settings option.

Step 4: Choose Network preferences.

Select the setting in the Playstore

Select the Network Preferences drop-down button

Step 5: Tap Automatically update apps to open the update settings menu.

Step 6: Choose Don’t automatically update apps from the list, and then tap Done.

Select automatic update

Select wifi only or don't update automatically

This is to disable the automatic application update function. That said, keep in mind that you should never turn this feature off completely. Application updates often contain performance fixes and security fixes that protect your data. Some apps may even stop working properly if you don’t update them for a long time.

You can avoid these problems by selecting Via Wi-Fi only from the Automatic application update menu. In this way, you can prevent app updates from using your mobile data.

These steps apply to apps you downloaded from the Google Play Store. However, manufacturers like Samsung also install their app stores and device-specific apps that get updates through them.

How to turn off the auto update feature of Samsung Galaxy Store

The steps to turn off automatic updates in the Galaxy Store are similar to those shown above.

Step 1: launch the Galaxy Store app on your phone.

2nd step: Tap on the Options menu located at the top left of the screen.

Select Galaxy store

Select the options menu

Step 3: Tap the gear symbol to the right of your profile picture to open the Settings screen.

Step 4: Select the Automatic update of applications option.

Select the gear symbol

Select auto update apps

Step 5: Select Use Wi-Fi only to prevent updates from using mobile data or Never to turn off the feature completely.

Select use wifi only or do not update apps

Disable auto update feature for preinstalled and side loaded apps

Preinstalled apps added by the phone manufacturer or your mobile service provider will usually receive their updates through the device’s app store. If you turn off the automatic update features for Google Play, Galaxy Store, or other stores grouped by manufacturers, it will also prevent them from being updated.

When it comes to side-loading apps, auto-updating is usually not a problem. These are installed manually, using APK files, and are not associated with an app store. This means that they will never update automatically unless you initiate the process from inside a store.

Prevent specific apps from using mobile data in the background

Changing your app store settings will prevent all downloaded apps from updating. However, you may want to prevent certain apps, such as games, from using your data plan. You can do this by following the following steps:

Step 1: Open Settings.

2nd step: Scroll down until you see Applications and select it.

Select settings

Select apps

Step 3: Go to the app you want to prevent from updating and tap on it.
Step 4:
Select app information to see your installed applications

Select app information

Select one of the apps from the list

Step 5: Go to Mobile data, under Usage.

Step 6: Disable the Allow background data use option.

Select data usage

Disable background button

This will prevent the app from using mobile data when it is not in use. Keep in mind that this will also prevent apps like Google Drive from syncing through your mobile data connection. However, the app will still use the data plan if you open it manually.

Also on Guiding Tech

Avoid turning off the auto update feature completely

Manufacturers and app developers release software updates to ensure that your phone is covered from a performance and safety perspective. Disabling them completely can leave your device vulnerable to people who wish to steal your data.

So, keeping your apps up to date will save your phone from any possible performance or security issues. If your mobile data usage is high, follow the steps above to turn off background data usage for your games and cloud storage apps. This way, you can keep your apps and games to download updates only over Wi-Fi network and not through mobile data.

Last updated on October 9, 2021

The above article may contain affiliate links that help support Guiding Tech. However, this does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains impartial and authentic.

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