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How much data does Netflix use? We tested it - see what we found
Netflix users use so much data that it causes problems with ISPs. Verizon even openly admits to throttling Netflix and YouTube. You likely already know that Netflix uses a lot of data, but how much does it actually use? We have some numbers for you!
How much data does Netflix use?
The table below shows our data.
|Resolution||Netflix estimates||Our measurements|
300MB per hour
200-350MB per hour
700MB per hour
650MB-750MB per hour
3GB per hour
2.8GB-3.3GB per hour
4.2GB per hour
4K (with and without HDR)
7GB per hour
6.5GB-11.5GB per hour
Curiously, Netflix doesn’t have data estimates for its 4K content with HDR, although it does say that 4K streaming consumes about 7GB per hour. However, Netflix does recommend a 25mbps connection for 4K HDR content. That isn’t any different than Netflix’s recommendations for normal UHD, so we don’t think it takes that much extra data for HDR versus non-HDR content when you hit the 4K barrier.
How we measured the data
We looked at three sources for our data here. Netflix has its own site with its own data usage estimates. We also did our own testing using free versions of Glasswire on a 1080p Windows laptop and a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. That provided pretty much all of the data we needed up through 1440p, the native resolution of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. We used Netflix’s account settings and some other settings tricks to get our data.
HDR content and 4K content were a little bit trickier. For that, I used an Xbox One X. You can turn HDR on and off in the console’s video settings, and the Xbox One X’s network settings have a helpful bandwidth usage tool. We measured how much data the Xbox used on its own and then subtracted that from our usage data after watching a few episodes of Marco Polo in 4K with HDR.
Our estimates were extremely close to Netflix's data estimates.
All of our measurements are approximate. Netflix has both 24fps and 60fps content as well as various bitrates. Changes in frame rate and bitrate can affect data usage significantly. It’s also a little more difficult to control the resolution compared to something like YouTube.
Saving data on Netflix
There are a few ways to curb your Netflix data usage from your computer, phone, and, in some cases, your TV. The options are all straightforward. Another option we won’t list below is simply not signing up for Netflix’s UHD package. You are automatically restricted to 1080p but lose simultaneous streams, so it’s not a great option for families.
Using a browser:
- Log into your Netflix account on any web browser.
- Navigate to the account page and then your Playback Settings.
- You can select between Auto, Low, Medium, or High quality. You can also enable or disable the setting to play the next episode automatically.
- Changes may take some time to reflect on your account.
On your mobile:
- Open your Netflix app and navigate to the More tab at the bottom. You select the App Settings option from there.
- Tap the Video Playback setting. You have four options: Automatic (default), Wi-Fi Only, Save Data, and Maximum Data.
- The Automatic setting balances good video quality with data usage and uses about 1GB of data per four hours of streaming. Wi-Fi only prevents Netflix from using your data plan, and Save Data restricts data usage to about 1GB per six hours of use. The Maximum Data option uses as much data as humanly possible by Netflix.
On your TV:
This one is a little bit tricky but doable. Roku, Android TV, Apple TV, and Fire TV all have settings that restrict resolution to 1080p, which can cut out all of that extra data usage from 4K and HDR. Smart TVs usually have a standalone Netflix app. The one that came on my LG B7 didn’t have any resolution settings, but it may be on other TVs.
Netflix is one of the world’s most popular premium streaming services. If you know some tricks we missed, tell us about them in the comments!
Netflix data usage depends on the quality of the video you’re streaming. For low quality (480p), it’s around 0.3GB per hour. Medium quality (720p) uses approximately 0.7GB per hour. High quality (1080p) uses about 3GB per hour. For 4K quality, it can consume up to 7GB per hour.
Netflix collects a wide variety of data, including user data (like your email and payment information), device and software characteristics (such as type and configuration), viewing activities (what you watch, when, and how much), and interactions (search queries, browsing history, etc.) on their platform.
For low quality (480p), around 0.15GB. For medium quality (720p), approximately 0.35GB. AT high quality (1080p) is about 1.5GB; for 4K, quality can consume up to 3.5GB for 30 minutes.
A two-hour movie on Netflix at low quality (480p) would use approximately 0.6GB. At medium quality (720p), it would use around 1.4GB. High quality (1080p) would use about 6GB. For a 4K movie, it can use up to 14GB.
100GB would be enough for Netflix, depending on the quality of the video you’re streaming. You could watch about 333 hours at low quality, 142 hours at medium quality, 33 hours at high quality, or around 14 hours at 4K quality.
With 10GB, you could watch about 33 hours at low quality, 14 hours at medium quality, approximately 3.3 hours at high quality, or a bit less than 1.5 hours at 4K quality.