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How much data does Netflix use?

Netflix is a treat.

More quality TV shows and movies than you could watch in a lifetime, or at least, so it seems. The roster is always changing, which means unless you seriously watch too much TV there will always be something new to watch on Netflix (or something you love so much, you’re happy to watch it again). There is a catch in all this though, and that is data. Consuming video content online uses a lot of data. Let’s a have a little look at just how much data Netflix consumes.

This is how much data Netflix uses

This is how much data Netflix uses

Over on the Netflix Help Page, there is a pretty solid break down of just how much data you use when you’re watching your favorite shows or movies on Netflix. The basic information looks like this:

  • Watching shows or movies on Netflix in standard definition will consume about 1 GB of data for every hour of video you watch.
  • Watching shows or movies on Netflix in High Definition will consume about 3 GB of data for every hour of video you watch.

It is also interesting to note at this point that Netflix points out that streaming and downloading Netflix video consumes about the same amount of data. If you’re outside the house but think you might watch that episode of Kimmy Schmidt more than once, download it.

A deeper look at Netflix data usage

Of course, Netflix offers more than two viewing options. For a start, there is Netflix’s premier subscription package, which includes Ultra HD. If you watch your Netflix videos in Ultra HD, you will consume around 7GB of data for every hour you watch.

There is still more though, as Netflix also offers users the ability to limit their data usage at home or on a desktop or laptop PC to one of four pre-defined settings. These are:

  • Low – 0.3 GB per hour per device.
  • Medium – SD: 0.7 GB per hour per device.
  • High – Best video quality, up to 3 GB per hour per device for HD, and 7 GB per hour per device for Ultra HD.
  • Auto – Adjusts automatically to deliver the highest possible quality, based on your current internet connection speed.
How to use Netflix’s data limit settings at home

Netflix data usage screen

To enable one of Netflix’s data limiting settings all you have to do is head to Netflix and sign in. Then select the profile you’d like to change your data usage settings for. Once in click Account, then go to My Profile and hit Playback Settings. From there you select the setting you want and hit Save.

Netflix also offers details on mobile data usage settings that help you change how much data you consume when watching Netflix on a mobile device. These are as follows:

  • 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.
  • Wi-Fi Only – You will only be able to stream on the device while connected to Wi-Fi.
  • 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 1 GB per 20 minutes or more depending on your device and network speeds.
How to use Netflix’s mobile data limit settings

Mobile Netflix data usage screen

To enable one of Netflix’s mobile data settings, open the Netflix app and hit the Menu icon. You then need to tap App Settings, and after that Cellular Data Usage. From there you simply select which of the above settings you want to enable.

All this shows that Netflix gives you quite a bit of control over how much data you will consume when you’re watching your favorite shows and movies with the streaming service. The rule of thumb is 1 GB of data per hour of SD video and 3 GB of data per hour of HD video. There is, however, a lot you can do to alter how much data you use with Netflix and we hope we’ve helped you get to the bottom of it with this guide.

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