ever wondered how much data Netflix uses? check this out

Entertainment | 6 February 2018

After a long Friday night of binge watching Stranger Things, you wake up in your living room with a fright to the sun shining through the curtains. You don’t remember when you fell asleep, and perhaps you’re still a bit confused as to where you even are!

Once you gather your thoughts and pull yourself together, you start to wonder just how much data you just churned through watching Netflix all night.

Offering about 2,100 movie and TV titles in Australia, Netflix delivers a formidable amount of content to stream, and can therefore take up a ton of bandwidth on your internet connection.

A 2015 article in The Sydney Morning Herald, released less than two weeks after Netflix launched, indicated that “Netflix is having a huge impact on Australia’s internet infrastructure,” with a significant amount of additional traffic passing through the various networks.

With Netflix’s user base growing by 48% in 2016, the problem is only getting worse, and experts suggest that Netflix could eventually cause widespread Internet outages during peak usage times.

Your problems may not stop there. According to the Netflix’s help center, “Watching TV shows or movies on Netflix uses about 1GB of data per hour for each stream of standard definition video, and up to 3GB per hour for each stream of HD video.” For the rarer Ultra HD content on Netflix, plan to budget a whopping 7GB per hour!

Assuming that you watch Netflix regularly, it wouldn’t be difficult to pass 100GB a month of data on Netflix alone.

how do I reduce my Netflix data usage?

There are settings to reduce or limit the amount of data Netflix uses. For example, the Help Center suggests the following. Sign in to your Netflix account, then select the Profile for which you want to adjust data settings for. Under ‘My Profile,’ select ‘Playback Settings,’ and you will be presented with a number of options.

  • Low (0.3GB per hour)
  • Medium (SD: 0.7GB per hour)
  • High (Best video quality, up to 3GB per hour for HD and 7GB per hour for Ultra HD)
  • Auto (Adjusts automatically to deliver the highest possible quality, based on your current Internet connection speed)

The Netflix Help Center offers similar adjustments which can be made on phones and tablets in the Netflix app. Try going to the Menu icon, then select ‘App Settings,’ then ‘Cellular Data Usage.’

These options will be presented:

  • Automatic – Netflix will select a data usage setting that balances data usage with good video quality. Currently this will allow you to watch about 4 hours per GB of data.
  • WiFi Only – You will only be able to stream on the device while connected to WiFi.
  • Save Data – Watch about 6 hours per GB of data.
  • 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 1GB per 20 minutes or more depending on your device and network speeds.

The downside of adjusting any of these settings is that the video quality will be reduced, potentially significantly. Higher definition videos are larger files, and therefore require more bandwidth to stream. If you’re looking for HD content, or at least the ability to fall asleep on the couch worry-free while watching Netflix, an uncapped data plan is probably the best option for you.