Huge Data Usage on Viber

The other day, I came across a situation that – to say the least – drove me crazy! First things first. I know my Android and iOS, and I am not one of these guys that forget some app “open”, and then nag about the 3GB that were charged for their 3G or 4G data plan. I purchased my first Android phone some time around December 2015, and everything went well, till some days ago.

Cosmote (GR), my carrier has made available an app that tracks data usage on your phone. I was having some connectivity issues to my Spotify account linked to that, so I removed it a month ago and forgot to re-install it. Around the 18th of April, I received an SMS with my last bill as well as a notification, saying that two days into the new billing cycle, I consumed 80% of my data plan. And there and then, decided to re-install the app, just to check my balance. When I opened it, it read, “The balance of your last bill is 299,89 euros“! 11 cents short of 300! What?

Image taken from here

My bill listed 6GB of data used, (2GB from my free plan and another 4GB on top of that). And to be perfectly clear, I do not share my internet publicly, I do not download movies on my phone, neither I run speed tests etc., that consume data. On top of that, I am almost all day long, around Wifi networks (office and home) where my phone connects with no problem. So where did the 6GB of data came from? Don’t know yet.

I remained calm (as calm as someone can remain in such a situation) and I called Cosmote to explain my predicament. I have to say that the handling of my issue by the Cosmote customer care, was impeccable. They called back, offering to take care of the excessive data usage, from the current as well as the next bill. I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting such a pain-free resolution, but it happened and I was really happy about it too, although a bit reserved as to whether or not this promise would be kept once the next bill came. In any case, putting a pin on that, I looked some more into the issue and that’s where the fun began!

After receiving the crazy-high bill, I looked into the data consumption on my Android phone (Lenovo P70-A). Under 4G data, I found 14,6GB spent! 14GB! I scrolled down and discovered that 14,16GB went to Viber (see screen below), with almost all of them, in the background of the app. WOW! After researching a bit online, I found that the most data-intensive service of Viber is calls, with 14MB per hour! The odd thing, was that my data consumption spiked from April 10th, to April 20th, when I discovered the problem. And of course, I had all the necessary boxes ticked, to avoid high consumption (transferring images only over Wifi, etc.). The only thing I did not do, was set a limit for Viber data, as they were always around 20-30MB, so I didn’t think it was necessary.

Screenshot from my phone for the period (6/4 to 5/5) – “Φόντο” is Greek for “background”

I immediately addressed the people over at Viber (20/4 @ 15:00) and they also came back pretty fast (20/4 @15:53), asking about some clarifications, which I provided. I also send all the necessary screenshots from my phone and asked them if I can give them my formal permission to divulge my data usage for vider (from the anonymous data collected through the app). On 4/5, I received an answer that stated that the Viber people were trying to reproduce the matter on their end. And then, on 11/5 I received an e-mail about taking a survey after the resolution of my problem! When I contacted them, they said that they are still looking into my problem, so I guess the e-mail I got was some kind of automated reply after X days.

Taking a step back, looking at the numbers, even if by some glitch, my phone was making a call that was not interrupted for 10 days (have not made any calls during this timeframe, btw, only some missed ones), it would need, 14MB times 24 for a day, times 10 for the ten days, that’s 3.360MB, or 3,36GB. Not 14! And of course, while I was at home and office, it would consume some Wifi data and not drain (almost on purpose) only my data plan. So I am buffled about what happened on my phone during this time, as the data surely passed through it, as Cosmote verified. I hope to get an answer soon and share it. For the time being, I have no data left, and still using Viber, till I sort this thing out – I need screenshots and data, so I haven’t deleted the app yet.

Do you know anything about some similar incident? I mean, was I hacked? I know I am not that important to hack, but still. Why 14GB and why only over 4G? Why didn’t Wifi take over? The worst part is that if I haven’t discovered it quick enough, it would have drained 100GB? Maybe more. For now, I asked for a service that cuts off your data once you reach 100% of your monthly quota, so it should be OK.

UPDATE: The last bill from my carrier came in, totalling a staggering 760 euros for the period that I had the problem with the excessive data usage (10 days in total). Only 60 euros out of these are my fixed contract costs. The remaining 700 came from the excess of almost 12GB that were used. On 31/5, I was contacted by Viber support, with no definite answer as to what caused my problem. We have installed a log tracker to see if this thing comes up again, but I am not that optimistic as for the past month, everything have been running smoothly. The only thing left now, is to get the analysis from my carrier, share it with Viber as I promised already, and try to see what happened.

Disclaimer: All the above are a personal experience for which I have all the data to justify my claims. I am not sharing my experience to cause any problem to the companies involved, and I am only stating facts as they happened. If you have any problem with the text above, please contact me through my various social media accounts to report it. 

UPDATE: Since this has been the most popular post in my blog, I will kind of spam myself here, including something I have started lately that may be of interest to some of you out there! “Stroll along” it’s called and it’s a book in weekly instalments! Please spread the word!


22 thoughts on “Huge Data Usage on Viber

  1. I have the same problem, last month Viber used over 4GB data (2GB through WiFi + 2GB through mobile network). I don’t use Viber on calls and barely on some chats.
    Right now I’m searching for some info to this reasonable big problem.

    1. So, I guess that you had set an upper limit, that’s why you 3G data did not exceed your monthly quota. In my case, I did not, unfortunately, which resulted in a couple of crazy high bills. You should contact their support to open a case about this. I think that if lots of users come forward with the same problem, it will be useful for them.

      1. I also had the very same issue that you experienced and I nearly went out of my mind! How do I contact viber? This is absolutely ridiculous!

      2. Through their contact mail or form. You will get a case reference number and will be able to follow through. I still have no definite answer, but I would advise you to send them something so that they take this more seriously…

  2. Hi, with quota or without quota. 4GB is way too much data for an app, which is running only on background and is used for few messages. I.have 1GB quota 4G full speed and then 768kbps FlatRate and mostly I’m on WiFi. The problem is that Viber has used my quota in 3 days. The question is: what for?

    1. Completely agree with you! And of course, I have the same question… What for? It seems crazy indeed… Just like the phone was highjacked to pass data through it? I will try to get in touch with my carrier as well, to see what they have to say about this! For the time being, I would kindly ask you to share this post as widely as possible to see if we can find someone that had the same problem with some additional information to provide!

  3. finally.. someone is making sense. i got same issues and has been searching online for solution. i think viber is some kind of secrets agent spying on people. because i see no reason why it will consume such high background data. i barely even use my viber. i can’t find a solution to it.

    1. Well, you won’t find anything. I got a detailed statement from my carrier back, and there were times when the phone was transmitting data through Viber, all night long (8 hours!). I could not find any explanation for that and the Viber support was not able to find either. I am not sure about what happened, but I have also restricted my use of Viber to the minimum, and of course not when I am on 3G/4G.

      1. Why not when you’re on 3G uh-oh I use that. I downloaded it now and in comes a text about how I have now become under 5.05 dollars when I had recharged and only downloaded a few songs (out of 30 dollars) from iTunes! Wtff! -.- The person who wanted me to get this, he better send quality messages and pics/video not just “check in” bs “how are you/you fine/you eating” kind of bullshit messages which is “Yes, OF COURSE I am!” -.-‘ Or I will be really f-ing Pissed Off at them!

  4. I also the same problem. I was just outside my apartment when suddenly I got 4 text messages from my mobile company telling me that I have used all of my data! ! ! I nearly went out of my mind! I wasn’t even using my phone and they refused to even listen to me, and I pay extra every month for tech expert support. How do I reach Viber cos I’ve tried but I don’t get any reply or help. I even noticed that my Viber desktop doesn’t work the same since they updated it. I’m so angry with my mobile company cos I’ve been with them for almost 20 yrs and they can see that I’m always consistent every month with my data usage. I just want to scream! Help! What is Viber doing about this?

  5. Hello,
    I had the same problem today. Viber suddenly consumed 5gb in about 24 hours (then my gb and my balance ended, I have a prepaid card).
    My carrier is also Cosmote (GR). I contacted them an hour ago and they said I should contact viber.
    I have just opened an issue with viber, but from what you say there is no solution.
    They just answered me while I was writing this post for more information:
    number of emoticon packages, recent voice and/or video calls, participation in group chats, following public chats,
    time frame of the excessive charge, how long I have viber installed in my device and version of viber when I first installed it
    (I gave a response in all the above except for the version which I obviously did not remember).
    3 emoticon packages, no recent calls, 1 group chat with no messages for the last 1.5 month and not following any public chats.

    1. It’s the exact same thing with Viber each time. And it’s a pity cause they offer a service that is clearly problematic. Since then I always keep viber off when connected through 4G to avoid similar incidents which leads to a worse user experience. You will be lucky if Cosmote is willing to credit you the amount you lost. My view is that this is not just a glitch but some hack of some sort that is possible through some back door and it’s just carried out for fun in the same way they hack WordPress and websites in general..

  6. I have this exact same issue for a while. Vibre need to resolve this issue abd treat it with more urgency. For now my vibre will be disabled till i have some fix. 1gb of mobile while not even using the app for a single phone call and very little messaging.

    1. There have been too many similar problems. And as far as I have seen, the instructions they give each time and the input they ask from the users that have the problem is identical. I don’t think they have a fix or they will any time soon…

  7. huh .. i have faced same problem just like above. I am using viber, to send itineraries and have conversations with customers. Although I reply chat and send photos, it showed ‘delivered’, so i thought it works well. I think at least they should notify ‘huge data usage’. 😥

  8. I just encountered the same problems. Had my iphone for over 3 years now and able to manage 300mb over a month with emails, viber, and occasional browsing without difficulty. I now have 2GB available but suddenly last week, my data usage spiked! Got a text about using 90% of my data with 2 days left on my plan. Ughhh Then yesterday when I turned my data on and used 4-5 viber texts, it used up 200mb so viber is off for now. I’m glad I narrowed it down to viber.

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