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How much data are you using to stream your favorite Netflix shows?

Alex Sheehan
AS
Alex Sheehan

Mar 12, 2020 — 4 min read

Here are a few things to know before your next binge.

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While streaming services allow us the luxury of binging on Locke & Key and Stranger Things, there’s some info you need to know before you pop the corn and get comfy. Netflix and other popular streaming services require data — and lots of it.

Some internet providers limit monthly data usage and some even throttle speeds when you surpass that limit. 

So, just how much data do you need to stream your favorite movies and shows on Netflix? Here’s what you need to know about how much data does Netflix use.

How much data does Netflix use for streaming?

According to Netflix, you use 1 GB of data per hour when you stream a standard definition (SD) video. High definition (HD) videos, on the other hand, use 3 GB per hour. And 4K Ultra HD streams use up to 7 GB per hour of video. This means you’ll use around 2 GB to stream a two-hour SD movie, 6 GB to stream the HD version or 14 GB for the 4K stream. A half-hour TV show would be 500 MB for the SD version, 1.5 GB for the HD version or 3.5 GB for 4K. 

If you’ve downloaded the videos to stream while offline, those streams don’t use any data whatsoever. 

How much data does Netflix use for downloading?

While you don’t need to use any data to stream or watch downloaded videos, you do need data to download them in the first place. Netflix states that “downloading and streaming consume a similar amount of data.”

How Netflix data usage compares to other streaming activities

Now that we know the answer to the question of how much data does streaming Netflix use, let’s look at other streaming activities: 

Spotify 

  • 40–150 MB per hour, depending on the sound quality

YouTube

Facebook

  • 1.5 MB per minute, which is 90 MB per hour

Instagram

  • 1 MB to scroll through 40 photos in your feed
  • 2–4 MB to upload photos to your feed
  • 8 MB to post to Instagram Stories

Google Maps

  • 0.67 MB every 10 miles
  • 0.73 MB for 20 minutes of navigation

Netflix data usage settings

You have the ability to change your data usage settings within the Netflix platform. These settings allow you to set data usage limits for each user profile associated with your Netflix account or for whenever you’re using a mobile device to stream.

To adjust your Netflix data settings for specific profiles, sign in via a web browser at www.netflix.com. Choose the profile you want to adjust the settings for. Make sure you choose a profile that is NOT the Kids profile, otherwise you won’t have the permissions to adjust these settings. 

Hover over your account image in the upper right corner until a dropdown menu appears. Select “Account.” 

Scroll down to the section labeled “MY PROFILE.” Click on “Playback settings.”

There are four settings to choose from here: 

  1. Low – 0.3 GB per hour per device
  2. Medium – SD: 0.7 GB per hour per device
  3. High – up to 3 GB per hour per device for HD, and 7 GB per hour per device for Ultra HD
  4. Auto – adjusts automatically to deliver the best quality based on your internet connection speed

Repeat each of the above steps for every profile you want to update. 

On mobile, the steps are a bit different. Open the app and find the menu icon — depending on your device, this may be three dots or a hamburger menu, which looks like three horizontal lines stacked on top of one another. 

From there, tap on “App settings.” You’ll see “Cellular Data Usage” listed at the top. Tap on that to open the data usage settings. 

Netflix offers four options

  1. Automatic – Netflix will select a data usage setting that balances data usage with good video quality. Currently, this will allow you to watch about four hours per GB of data.
  2. Wi-Fi Only – You will only be able to stream on the device while connected to Wi-Fi.
  3. Save Data – Watch about six hours per GB of data.
  4. Maximum Data – Recommended only if you have an unlimited data plan. This setting will stream at the highest possible quality for your device and the content you are viewing. This may use one GB per 20 minutes or more depending on your device and network speeds.

You can also adjust the quality of your downloaded videos, which will affect your data usage when downloading content. There are two settings: 

  1. Standard – lower quality streams that download faster and use less data
  2. High – higher quality streams that download slower and use more data

Control your data usage

Now you should have a decent sense of how much data Netflix uses and how you can better control how that fits into your broadband plan.

Looking for more ways to understand and take control of how much data you use? Stay connected to our Resource Center or follow our experts on Facebook and Twitter.