How to Restrict Background Data on iPhone or iPad: A Step-by-Step Guide

Restricting background data on your iPhone or iPad requires just a few steps within your device’s settings. Navigate to your settings, find and select “General,” then “Background App Refresh,” and toggle off the apps that you don’t want running in the background. By doing so, you’ll save on data usage and potentially improve your device’s battery life.

After completing this action, the selected apps will no longer refresh content in the background when on cellular data or Wi-Fi. This means they won’t be able to update with new information such as emails or social media notifications unless you open them directly.


Have you ever wondered why your iPhone or iPad’s battery drains so quickly, or why your data plan seems to vanish into thin air? Well, the silent culprit could very well be the background data that your apps are using without you even realizing it. Background data refers to the information that apps on your device continue to download and upload even when you’re not actively using them. This can include updates, notifications, or location services.

For those of us who aren’t tethered to an unlimited data plan, or for those who simply want to ensure their device runs as efficiently as possible, learning how to restrict background data can be a game-changer. Not only does it help conserve data usage, but it can also extend your device’s battery life. If you’ve ever been frustrated by a rapidly depleting battery or an inexplicably high data bill, this article is for you. Let’s dive in and learn how to take control of our devices and manage background data effectively.

Step by Step Tutorial on Restricting Background Data

This section will guide you through the process of restricting background data on your iPhone or iPad, which can help you save on data usage and battery life.

Step 1: Open Settings

Navigate to the settings app on your iPhone or iPad.

This is the app with the gear icon, usually located on your home screen. If you can’t find it, you can also swipe down on the home screen and use the search bar to locate it.

Step 2: Select General

Within your settings, scroll down and find the “General” option and tap on it.

The “General” option is where you can find various device management settings and options for your iPhone or iPad.

Step 3: Tap on Background App Refresh

In the general settings, find and select the “Background App Refresh” setting.

This is where you can manage which apps are allowed to refresh their content in the background.

Step 4: Toggle off apps

Turn off the switch next to the apps you don’t want refreshing in the background.

It’s advisable to turn off background refresh only for those apps that you don’t need constant updates from. For example, you might not need your shopping app to update in the background, but you may want your email app to continue refreshing.


Saves DataTurning off background app refresh can significantly reduce the amount of cellular data your device uses, which can be especially beneficial for those without unlimited data plans.
Improves Battery LifeBy restricting background data, your device can focus on only the most essential tasks, which can lead to longer battery life.
Reduces DistractionsWith fewer apps running in the background, there’s less chance of getting distracted by unnecessary notifications or updates that drain your focus and time.


Missed UpdatesBy turning off background app refresh, you might miss out on important updates or notifications until you manually open the app.
Less ConvenienceSome users might find it less convenient to have to open apps to see new content rather than having it automatically updated in the background.
Potential DelaysThere could be delays in receiving important information, such as emails or messages, which could be a problem for those who need real-time updates for work or other purposes.

Additional Information

While restricting background data on your iPhone or iPad can be beneficial, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind. Firstly, some apps are designed to function optimally with background refresh enabled. Disabling it could affect the performance or functionality of these apps. It’s also good practice to review your background app refresh settings regularly, as new apps you install will have background refresh enabled by default.

Another tip is to pay attention to how your device performs after you’ve made these changes. You might find that some apps don’t need to refresh in the background as frequently as others, and you can adjust the settings accordingly. Also, remember that restricting background data does not stop the apps from working entirely; they will still update and function normally when you’re using them.

Lastly, if you’re looking to save even more data, consider turning off cellular data for specific apps altogether. This way, they will only update or refresh when connected to Wi-Fi. To do this, go to “Settings,” then “Cellular,” and scroll down to toggle off cellular data for specific apps.


  1. Open Settings
  2. Select General
  3. Tap on Background App Refresh
  4. Toggle off apps

Frequently Asked Questions

Will restricting background data stop my apps from working?

No, it will not stop your apps from working. They will still function normally when you open them; they just won’t refresh content in the background.

Can I still receive notifications if I turn off background app refresh?

You may not receive notifications in real-time for the apps that have background refresh turned off. You will need to open the app to see any new updates or messages.

Does restricting background data affect all of my devices?

No, it only affects the device on which you change the settings. If you have multiple devices, you will need to adjust the settings individually.

Is it possible to set background app refresh to work only on Wi-Fi?

Yes, you can set background app refresh to work only when connected to Wi-Fi by choosing ‘Wi-Fi’ instead of ‘Wi-Fi & Cellular Data’ in the Background App Refresh settings.

Can I turn off background app refresh for all apps at once?

Yes, you can turn off background app refresh for all apps by toggling off the main switch at the top of the Background App Refresh settings page.


Restricting background data on your iPhone or iPad is a simple yet effective way to manage your device’s data usage and battery life. While it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, for many users, the benefits of longer battery life and controlled data costs far outweigh the minor inconveniences.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can take command of your device and ensure it runs efficiently, only using the resources it genuinely needs. Remember, the key to successful device management is finding the balance that works best for you and your usage habits.