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How Much Data Does Netflix Use?
Netflix has become a popular way of watching the latest TV shows, movies, documentaries, and comedy specials. It’s becoming so ingrained in the way we consume media that we often don’t think twice before binge watching.
For this reason, it pays to know just how much data Netflix consumes, allowing you to make better use of your monthly data quota.
Netflix general data usage
Depending on your preferred video quality, you can choose between four different data usage options with Netflix. Data usage between these options differs dramatically, so it pays to be informed.
- Auto: this option automatically adjusts to suit your internet connection speed
- Low: video quality is low and uses 0.3 GB per hour for each device
- Medium: you get Standard Definition for 0.7 GB per hour for each device
- High: You get High Definition for 3 GB per hour for each device
- Ultra High Definition: for 7 GB per hour for each device
If video quality doesn’t bother you, you can save a lot on data usage by setting your Netflix data usage settings to low or medium. Otherwise, choosing HD over Ultra HD could help save on your data usage.
But it comes down to your needs. If you’re someone who wants to watch everything in the highest definition on offer, go for it! Just know that you’re going to chew through your data at a faster rate.
How much data does my mobile phone use?
Whether you’re an iPhone or Android user, Netflix offers four mobile-specific data usage settings to choose from. They include:
- Automatic: this setting currently lets you watch about 4 hours of your favourite shows per gigabyte of data. It does this by balancing data usage and video quality.
- WiFi Only: with this setting, you will only be able to stream video when your mobile phone is connected to WiFi.
- Save Data: this setting lets you watch Netflix for about 6 hours per gigabyte of data.
- Maximum Data: this could use as much as 1 gigabyte of data for every 20 minutes you watch, so it’s best not to choose this setting unless you have unlimited data.
If your WiFi cuts out while you’re watching a video, it may switch to your mobile data instead, often without you noticing. If you want to save your mobile data for other things and avoid any surprises, the WiFi Only setting could be a great option for you.
Downloading Vs. Streaming
Whether you choose to download or stream your favourite shows or movies, it makes little difference to your Netflix data usage. They use more or less the same amount of data, so it really depends on your viewing preferences.
How do you change your data usage settings on Netflix?
Now that you know just how much data usage can vary with Netflix, you can actively choose a setting that best suits your needs. Here’s how to change your current settings:
- Log in to Netflix
- Choose your profile
- Click ‘Account’
- Click ‘My Profile’
- Click ‘Playback Settings’
- Choose which setting you’d like*
*Please note that any setting changes may not take effect immediately.
Keep in mind that you need to set the data usage settings for each profile (except kids profiles).
Mobile Phone Settings
- Open the Netflix app
- Under ‘Menu’, click ‘App Settings’
- Click ‘Cellular Data Usage’
- Choose which setting you’d like
If you have more than one device, you’ll need to set this for each device and for each profile. But if you’ve already set your Netflix data settings online, your mobile phone will automatically use this setting.
Netflix Vs. YouTube
YouTube is another popular viewing platform that is convenient and offers variety. But figuring out data usage for YouTube is not as straightforward as Netflix, mainly because there are more variations and options to choose from.
Videos can be viewed in a wide range of video quality settings, from 360p to 2160p. Bitrate, frame rate and bandwidth can also affect data usage, as do videos made in 3D or 360-degree.
In general, you can expect to use the following when watching standard YouTube videos:
- 480p: 264 MB per hour (approx.)
- 720p (HD): 870 MB per hour (approx.)
- 1080p (Full HD): 1.65 GB per hour (approx.)
Managing your data usage
Knowing how much of your data can be chewed up by your favourite Netflix series or movies keeps you in control of your data. You can actively choose the right setting for you, and leave behind the days of suddenly finding you’ve used all your data early in the month!
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