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Use NetLive for Android to find data-hogging apps in real-time

Ready to find out which app is eating all of your data each time it's running? NetLive knows exactly how much data your other apps are using right now.

As Sharon Vaknin recently pointed out, unlimited data plans are in short supply. You may have a 2GB or 4GB data limit because the next package up is either too much data, or doesn't fit in your budget. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to enjoy your smartphone to the fullest.

One of the first things you should do on a limited data plan is find ways to conserve data. But what if you've followed all the tips for saving data, and you still seem to be running out too quickly? There may be a data-hogging culprit in your mix of apps.

NetLive is an Android app that will show you data usage in real-time, so you can see what's really hogging your data plan. The way this app differs from the built-in data manager and other data reporting apps is the real-time feature. For instance, if you use Facebook, Gmail, and Pandora more often than other apps, they will undoubtedly be at the top of your list. But what if another app you don't use that often keeps running in the background and pilfering your data allowance? Ready to check it out? Here's how to get started:

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

First, install a copy of NetLive on your Android device. The app requires Android version 4.0 or higher. Open the app and select the unit of measure for viewing data usage. For starters, I'd recommend setting this to kBps.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

It's time to decide if you want the data usage information shown in the notification shade, in a widget on your Home screen, or both. The widget has sizing options (from micro to large), unit of measure options, and even text color choices so you can read it on your wallpaper. If you're using the widget, you can disable the notification shade information from the app's menu.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Now you can start using your phone as usual, and whenever you're curious how much data is being used at the present time, open the notification shade or check the widget. The app using the most data, and its current transfer rate, will be displayed.

Bonus tip: Since the app runs on startup, there is an option for disabling all data reporting (i.e., disabling the app without uninstalling it). 

What do you think? Is this new app a useful addition to your collection? Share your thoughts in the comments.