How Much Data Does Video Streaming Really Use?

Video streaming can eat through more data than you think. Here’s a breakdown to help you understand how much you’re using each month.

There’s hardly a limit to what you can stream online these days. NBA playoffs in 4K? Check. The complete Broadway production of Hamilton: An American Musical? Check. That cringe-worthy television show with the talking couch you loved as a kid? Double-check. Streamlining videos has never been more convenient with services like Hulu, Disney+, and Netflix at your fingertips.  The only real problem with being able to stream anything you want (besides it stealing a bit too much of your free time) is the possibility of going over your data cap, or limited amount of data usage, for the month.

If you have WeLink internet and you’ve already activated your network, we have great news. You won’t have to worry about a data cap. But if you still have another service provider, or if you’re streaming via mobile, it’s important to keep track of how much data you’re using. All those hours streaming high definition (HD) videos will eat through your data faster than you think. Many internet providers limit monthly data usage to 1 TB or lower and charge extra once you go over, you could be at a loss of money. 

Whether your internet service has a cap or not, it’s a good idea to be aware of how much data you’re using each month so you’re always prepared. Here’s a breakdown:

How much data does video streaming use?

While streaming movies won’t store any hard files on your personal device, it uses about the same amount of data that downloading does. Typically, a 30-minute Netflix television show uses anywhere from 3 to 7 GB depending on video quality.1 According to Netflix, This may seem relatively small compared to a cap of 1 TB (which equates to 1,000 GB), but when you include everything you stream in an entire month, plus everything else you use the internet for, data usage adds up quickly.

Does Amazon Prime Video use less data compared to Netflix?

You may be wondering if there are any major differences in data usage between streaming platforms.2 Let’s find out.

When streaming with Amazon Prime Video, you have the option to choose from Good, Better, and Best quality. Good uses about 0.38 GB per hour, Better uses about 1.40 GB per hour, and Best uses about 6.84 GB per hour. For comparison, Netflix offers Low, Medium, and High streaming quality. Low uses 0.3 GB per hour, Medium (SD) uses 0.7 GB per hour, and High (UHD) uses 3 GB per hour.

While Netflix seems to be slightly better as far as data usage goes, the difference is minor, so don’t let that deter you from streaming the services you like. And if you need help deciding what to watch, check out these 9 shows you should be streaming right now.

How to stream video and keep your data in check

Most internet providers should have an easy way for you to monitor how much data you’re using each month, usually through their website or app. If your internet data is capped, make sure to check your data usage at least weekly so you won’t run into any surprises. Check your usage before and after a binge-watching session to get a good idea of how much data you typically use streaming video.

How to reduce data usage while streaming

Getting close to your limit? Here are some tips on cutting back your usage:

  • Stream in SD whenever possible – Reduce quality when you have the television on in the background or are watching reruns.
  • Make sure to turn your devices off after you’ve used them – Avoid accidentally streaming when you’re not around.
  • Use the download feature to save shows you watch frequently – No need to use data each time you watch.

Plus, these tips also work for streaming music. Bonus.

In Summary

You don’t need to stop streaming entirely just because of a data cap. With a little bit of monitoring and simple adjustments, you can enjoy your favorite streaming services and still stay within your limits. For an even easier time managing your streaming, opt for an internet provider without data caps. Let us help you get started.

Sources: 

1. Digital Trends: How much data does Netflix use?

2. Cord Cutter News: How Much Data Does Amazon Prime Video Use? You Asked We Answer

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