You already know what happens you go over you mobile data allowance instead of ‘saving’ by connecting to WiFi to download big files. Opera Max – Data Manager is a useful free app created by the developers of the popular browser. It manages to reduce your data consumption by compressing the data you receive through its own VPN network. And since not everybody is in expert in the subject, we explain here how the app works step by step.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a technology to send and receive web data as if it were a private local network sending encrypted information from A to B. Opera Max takes advantage of this technology by acting as an intermediary between the network and your smartphone, allowing you to compress videos, photos, and data of various types by catching them “in-flight” and zipping them before they’re downloaded to your phone, meaning that for practical purposes, your data consumption will be greatly decreased.

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When you first run the app it will ask you to activate the data-saving mode, enabling the VPN system and keeping it running on your phone until you disable it. From there, you won’t need to do anything else, as from that moment the data will be compressed every time you view a video, download a photo, or use an IM program. You can see when you go into the control panel how much data is being compressed and the transfer volume consumed by each app.

The control panel is quite straightforward. A timeline keeps track of all your activity, while in the upper part you’ll see the total number of megabytes used and saved. This data-saving system will only apply when you’re connected to a mobile network, and in fact, from the ‘Blocked Apps’ section you can set any app installed on your phone to only send and receive data when you’re connected to a WiFi network, which is especially useful if you have programs running in the background that don’t let you know when they’re doing data transfers.

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Note for skeptics, as many may wonder whether all this data crossing Opera servers is exposed in any way: It is not possible to track the content as all the data is encrypted, and the only info registered are the IP addresses, the length of connection time, and the URLs visited. Over time, you can save up to 40% on your data consumption if you’re a big consumer of multimedia content.

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