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How Much Data Does Netflix Use? (And How to Reduce It)

Last Updated Nov 6, 2021

If you are on an unlimited data plan, then you might not have to worry about how much data your favorite TV shows on Netflix uses. However, if you are on capped data, wouldn’t you want to know? Because nothing is more annoying than getting a notification that you are running out of data in the middle of an interesting movie. So, how much data does Netflix use?

The amount of data that Netflix uses depends on the resolution you are streaming on, whether SD, HD, or 4K, and the length of the movie/show. However, there are some ways that you can reduce its data usage.

You are probably still wondering how much data your favorite Netflix show uses and probably how to reduce it, don’t worry. Detailed in this article is how much data Netflix uses and how to reduce it so you can make the most use of your limited data.

How Much Data Does Netflix Use?

The amount of data your Netflix account uses depends on the resolution and the duration of the movie/show you are watching. Watching a 30 minutes show will consume less data than when you watch a 2 hours movie. It also depends on the resolution; a 30 minutes show streamed in HD will consume more data when compared to the same show streamed in SD. 

Depending on your preferred video quality, Netflix offers the following data usage options:

Resolution or video qualityData usage per hour
Lowup to 0.3 GB
Mediumup to 0.7 GB
Standard definition (SD)up to1 GB
High definition (HD)up to 3 GB
Ultra-high definition (4K)up to 7 GB
AutoThis option adjusts automatically to give you the best video quality depending on your current internet speed. This means you can use between 0.3 to 7 GB of data per hour.

Now, let’s take a look at how much data Netflix uses for downloading.

Does Downloading Videos on Netflix Save Data?

Although you don’t need data to watch downloaded videos, you need data to download them in the first place. According to Netflix, downloading the video won’t help you save data because streaming and downloading use a similar amount of data.

It takes around the same amount of data to retrieve all the resources required to download the video.

If you would like to learn more about data for streaming movies, check out this article.

How Do I Use Less Data on Netflix?

Now that you know the amount of data you use when you stream, you might want to learn how to use less data, especially if you have a low data cap on your internet plan. There are ways to reduce the amount of data Netflix consumes on web/browser and app/mobile within the Netflix platform. 

Follow the steps below to use less data on Netflix.

On Web/Browser

Here’s the steps to using less data on Netflix when using your web browser:

  1. Log in to your Netflix account on your browser.
  2. Go to the account page and select a profile you want to make changes to.
  3. In the “My profile” section, click “Playback Settings.”
  4. Select a data usage option that suits your plan. You can choose from the following options:
    • Auto: this is the default data usage and video quality.
    • Low: basic video quality with up to 0.3 GB of data consumed per hour.
    • Medium: standard video quality with up to 0.7 GB of data consumed per hour.
    • High: best video quality with up to 3 GB per hour for HD and 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD.
  5. Click “Save” to save the changes made. This change doesn’t take effect immediately; it takes about 8 hours.

Repeat the steps above for other profiles you want to make changes to but note; you don’t have permission to edit the settings in the “Kids’ Profile.”

On Mobile/App

Here’s how you can use less data on your Netflix mobile app:

  1. Open your Netflix app and locate the menu icon – this may be three dots or three horizontal lines stacked on top of one another, depending on your device.
  2. From the options there, select “App Settings.”
  3. Select Cellular Data Usage under Video Playback. You have four options to choose from here;
    • Automatic: Netflix automatically selects settings that balance video quality with data usage. This ensures you can stream about four hours per 1 GB of data.
    • Wi-Fi only: This option means you can only stream while connected to Wi-Fi. Downloaded content can still be watched even when Wi-Fi is off.
    • Save Data: This option reduces data usage to the barest minimum. This ensures you can stream about six hours per 1 GB of data.
    • Maximum Data: This is just the opposite of Save Data, and it’s recommended only for users with an unlimited data plan. It means you are streaming at the highest resolution/quality possible for your device and can use 1 GB of data per 20 minutes, depending on the network speed and your device. 

You can also save data on downloaded videos with the standard quality or high quality settings. Standard is a lower quality stream that downloads faster and uses less data. On the other hand, high is a higher quality stream that downloads slower and consumes more data.

Streaming on Netflix App: Cellular Data vs. Wi-Fi

A test was carried out to compare Netflix data usage when connected to Wi-Fi or using cellular data, and it was revealed that you use less data when streaming via cellular data:

Video QualityData Used
Cellular Dataconsistently clear and uninterrupted.249 MB over two shows
Wi-Ficonsistently clear and uninterrupted.415 MB over two shows

It is concluded that Netflix’s automatic mobile data optimization features help users use less data when they stream via mobile. 

How Much Data Does Netflix Use and How to Reduce It?

Streaming on Netflix uses about 1 GB of data per hour if you are streaming in SD, 3 GB per hour in HD, and about 7 GB if you watch in 4K (UHD). Fortunately, Netflix has some tools to help reduce how much data you use. Choosing the right data plan from the options available will help you have control over how much data you use.