How to Save Data When #StreamingisLife
“I only use Netflix every now and then,” you lie. A visible trickle of sweat is already winding its way down your temple as you wonder whether they can see through your flimsy fib. You’ve just burned through two straight seasons of Lucifer in as many days, with time in between spent furiously Googling plot points. Mornings, evenings, lunch breaks, even a couple of cheeky visits to the bathroom – streaming is life and you’re not slowing down anytime soon.
Well, it’s time you knew that you’re not alone. We love streaming as much as we love data, which is how we’ve perfected the art of saving data while watching our favorite movies and TV shows. Getting a massive and contract-free 100GB per month on Singapore’s best unlimited data plan certainly helps, but we can appreciate the need to be efficient.
How much data does Netflix use?
As the most popular streaming platform in Singapore, many people wonder how much of their data plan it actually uses. For streaming through the app, Netflix claims hourly data usage ranges from around 160MB to 3GB depending on your settings, which we’ll touch on below.
- Automatic: Roughly 4 hours per 1GB of data.
- Save Data: Roughly 6 hours per 1GB of data.
- Maximum Data: Roughly 20 minutes or less per 1GB of data.
Streaming Netflix on a web browser uses from 0.3 GB per hour up to 7GB depending on your quality settings.
1. Tweak your streaming settings
Most streaming platforms let you change your streaming settings to save data. For Netflix, you can change the video quality for streaming on a web browser or through the app. On a browser you can choose between Auto, Low, Medium and High, but let’s focus on the app since we’re talking about saving data on your phone or tablet:
- Open the Netflix app and tap Profile or More
- Choose App Settings
- Tap Cellular Data Usage under the Video Playback section
- Choose your preferred setting.
Automatic uses roughly 1GB for every 4 hours of viewing, while Maximum Data uses an average of 1GB every 20 minutes. Choose Save Data for the best data efficiency: the quality will be reduced, but 1GB can be stretched to around 6 hours of viewing.
2. Check YouTube, Spotify and other streaming platforms
Watching movies and TV shows isn’t the only way to avoid busting your data plan when streaming. Apps like YouTube, Spotify and Instagram all have settings similar to the Netflix options we described above. Explore the menus of these apps and you’ll find options to limit data consumption by reducing streaming quality to your preferred standard.
- For YouTube: Tap on your profile picture on the top right corner > Settings > Enable ‘Play HD on Wi-Fi only’.
- Spotify: Tap on Settings > Data Saver > Tap the toggle to turn on.
- Instagram: Go to your own profile > Click the hamburger icon on the top right corner > Go to Account > Mobile Data Use > Enable the toggle for Use Less Data.
3. Download movies and TV shows for offline viewing
Many streaming platforms let you download movies and TV shows over WiFi and temporarily store them on your device so you can watch on the go without using data. Taking Netflix as an example, start by heading to the app settings and switching on WiFi Only under the Downloads section – this will stop you accidentally chewing through your data plan.
Now you have two options: the first is to choose a movie or TV show, tap Download under the Play button and wait until the download finishes. You can quickly find the content later by tapping the Downloads tab in the bottom corner of the app. Because not every title is available for download and you don’t always know what you want to watch, you may prefer to take the second option: go to Downloads, scroll to the bottom and choose Find More To Download. Here you can browse a curated feed of content available for download, with anything else removed to prevent any heartbreak.
Carrie is a problem-solving adventurer at Circles.Life. While she’s off-duty, she wears many other hats: does photography that #SparkTheOrdinary at @carriesimitaiji, writes on her lifestyle blog carriesim.com, and spread body positivity on her Instagram account @carriesim.