Popular mobile apps like Facebook Messenger, Gmail, WhatsApp and Google Drive consume an alarming amount of mobile data simply by running in the background. In a new app-usage finding research conducted by Opera Software, it was found that on average over 30 percent of Internet data is consumed by apps running in the background.

The finding, based on data collected from millions of Opera Max users in December 2015, identified Facebook Messenger and Gmail as the biggest data-draining apps, with nearly 73 percent of the total data usage happening in the background. Popular apps like Whatsapp and Google Drive account for more than 50 percent of background data usage.

"Most apps are made to give a great user experience, not save data. If you fetch background data through your data plan, it's like throwing away $1 out of every $3 you spend on your mobile data plan," Sergey Lossev, Product Manager at Opera Software, said in a statement. "Most people are not aware of this background data drain and may not have authorised it, nor do they know how to stop it from happening."

To counter the problem, Opera says it has a solution integrated within its data management app, Opera Max. Known as Smart Alerts, the new feature will notify users if any app consumes more than 10MB per week by running in the background. Users can manage data-hungry apps' activity with two taps to block them from draining mobile data.

Opera Max is available on Google Play Store as a free app. Some of the highlights of the app are its appoarent ability to save up to 50 percent of data while watching videos on Netflix or YouTube and up to 40 percent data on music-streaming apps.

Android smartphones already have an integrated feature to prevent apps from consuming data while running in the background. Under the data settings menu, users have the "Restrict app background data" option, and activating it will limit background data usage.