The question isn’t how much Wi-Fi does Chromecast use—4K and standard HD data usage is pretty well known—but how much does it use without your knowledge? Chromecast devices have a bad habit of operating in the background, and if you have multiple devices, your data rates may be much higher than you think.
In standby mode, Google Chromecast uses roughly 15 GB of Wi-Fi per month. A second device will double that, and so on. 4K streaming amounts to 7.9 GB per hour, while 1080p HD and 720p HD will consume 1.5 and .9 GB per hour, respectively. Streaming music is much lower, at about 75MB per hour, depending on quality.
Below, we’ll cover the Chromecast’s Wi-Fi and data use and the many ways you can reduce this usage when you’re not actively streaming with the device.
How Much Wi-Fi Does Chromecast Use?
When the Google Chromecast is in use, you can use approximately 15 GB of Wi-Fi every month. The quality of the stream and whether you’re streaming music or video can fluctuate this figure.
Google loves programs that run in the background, and Chromecast devices are no exception. You may think that because your TV is off, Chromecast is inoperable. In reality, your Chromecast is happily churning through high-resolution background or screensaver images, eating up data as it goes.
So, now that you’re aware that Chromecast devices never truly sleep, you should know how to reduce data usage.
How to Reduce Wi-Fi Data Use
Fortunately, there are a few ways you can reduce the amount of data your Chromecast eats up when not in use:
Change Your Background
You’ll need access to your Google account, Google Home app, Google Photos, and your smartphone—computer or tablet will do—to change your Chromecast backgrounds. Next, you need to find a few low-resolution photos to use.
You can even use a standard color background which is even better. Upload your chosen pics to Google Photos, create an album, and label it something associated with Chromecast or something easy to remember.
Open Google Home and select the three vertical dots on your home screen for your Chromecast. Select Background Settings and make sure Google Photos is on. Turn off everything below Google Photos.
Finally, check the box for photos under the filename you created. From now on, the only background will be the low-res or color images you uploaded earlier. This will go a long ways towards reducing data usage when your Chromecast is in standby mode.
Limit Power Supply
This is the simplest solution; however, you’ll have to give up certain features. If there’s no power to your Chromecast, you’ll lose any smart home integration and Google Assistant—voice control.
TVs don’t generally supply power to their ports when turned off, so consider rerouting your Chromecast’s power supply from the wall socket to a USB port on your TV. When the TV is off, so is your Chromecast.
Other than that, simply unplugging the device whenever it isn’t in use is a solution, albeit an aggravating one, and not necessary if you plug it into the USB port.
Use Data Saving Mode
While this won’t eliminate data usage while your Chromecast is idle, it will drastically reduce it.
- In the Google Home app, select your Chromecast followed by the three vertical dots to open up your settings menu.
- Select Ambient Mode > Experimental > Low-Bandwidth Mode.
You can also save data by increasing the amount of time an image stays onscreen. While in the Ambient Mode settings, scroll down to Slideshow Speed and set it at maximum, which is ten minutes.
Neither option will eliminate data usage but will reduce it while still allowing you to use whatever features your generation of Chromecast offers.
Consider Changing Resolution or Plans
Although you cast streaming content from your phone to your Chromecast device, your smartphone only uses Wi-Fi up until you begin streaming. From there, the Chromecast takes over.
Most streaming services have options to reduce the resolution, and if not, you can downgrade your plan—usually as low as 480p, which is standard definition—to something that’s not as data-hungry.
While not all content on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, or Hulu, just to name a few, is in 4K resolution, most of the time, the setting is Auto by default. If you watch a 4K movie, the streaming service will default to 4K.
If you’re on a low-data plan, consider reducing your resolution via the settings menu or downgrading your plan. This is especially true if you have multiple devices tied into your Wi-Fi network. Even if you stay away from 4K, 1080p HD can add up quickly with several devices streaming.
As time goes on and technology improves, Internet Service Providers are becoming more flexible with their data caps. If you’re running a Chromecast device with a low-data cap, or MiFi hotspot, check with your ISP.
There are many ways to take advantage of annual deals and promotions that most customers don’t give a lot of thought about. Package deals will often net you a higher data cap with the trade-off of something you don’t need at a lower monthly price.
Chromecast devices are great for streaming your favorite shows and movies, and they remain very popular. Knowing how much Wi-Fi your Chromecast uses and how to reduce it will help keep your data under control.