When users stream movies on the most popular streaming entertainment service in the world, many are left to wonder: how much data does Netflix use? In an era where you must be conscious of how much data you use on your phone or on capped data packages at home, streaming Netflix can surprise. If you don't have an unlimited data plan on your phone or at home, this massive amount of data being transferred can result in expensive bills.

How Much Data Does Netflix Use?

It's so easy to binge on Netflix TV shows and movies these days, so it is important to keep in mind how much data is being consumed by your devices. Netflix can use up to 1 gigabyte of data per hour up to 3 gigabytes per hour for high definition streaming. If you watch your favorite show in 4k Ultra HD, up to 7 gigabytes per hour can be used! Considering that your average movie is about 2 hours long, this use of data can add up quickly and can cause bills to skyrocket if users are not careful.

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There are ways to monitor just how much data is being used for Netflix so you can avoid the shock of a sharply elevated bill. There are also tools at your disposal that can limit the use of data. Staying aware of how much data you use is key to keeping data usage charges within the boundaries of your budget.

Netflix Quality Settings

There are different settings within Netflix that you can choose to help limit data usage. These helpful tools are a great start to keeping bills lower while still enjoying plenty of quality programming. Here's a general list of Netflix's setting options:


This basic quality uses about 0.3 gigabytes per hour but will result in diminished quality of picture and sound for Netflix's movies and TV shows. If conservation of data is more of a priority to you than picture quality, however, this is a great way to keep your usage in check.


​This is a standard level of quality that uses up to 0.7 gigabytes per hour. It is a well-balanced option that won't take as much of a toll on your phone bill.


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This setting can use from 3 to 7 gigabytes per hour and results in great quality for the programs being streamed. This setting includes HD, as well as Ultra HD. For data-conscious users, however, this option may not be the best choice.


This setting will stream programs in a quality determined by your connection. This is a great option for balancing out usage without sacrificing too much in the way of quality, and it also helps users avoid aggravating buffering issues.


This option is for users that have no limit to the data they can stream and allows for streaming at whatever quality chosen for as long as the user wants. Data usage peaks at the same level as the 'High' option. This is only for those with unlimited data plans for their phones or internet.

Profile-Specific Setting for Usage

​To set a profile-specific usage setting, use a computer to log into your account at Netflix.com. Select the profile for which you are trying to change the data usage settings. Click Account, then Under My Profile click on Playback Settings. This is where you can choose the data usage option you prefer.

Data Usage-Limiting Features

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For those concerned about the confusing answers to the question "How much data does Netflix use?", Netflix has a few features built-in that help users to limit their data usage. While it is not possible to dictate specifically how much data you do or do not want to use, this helpful feature allows you to control the use of data in four different ways.


As mentioned above, automatic mode uses data in the most conservative way it can while adapting to your connection. Using this mode, it's possible to squeeze about 4 hours of entertainment out of 1 gigabyte, though results vary depending on device and service.

Maximum Data

​This mode enables users to stream at the highest quality allowed by their device and service. Users of 4K Ultra HD prefer this mode, as do those unhindered by limitations on their data usage.

Save Data

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​This mode reduces the quality of your streaming to a minimum, resulting in about six hours of video per gigabyte used. This mode will affect the quality of the program that is being streamed, but it will use data in a very conservative manner; ensuring you get the most bang for your buck in terms of hours of streaming.

Wi-Fi Only

Using this mode, users will only be able to stream on their device while connected to wireless internet. When Wi-Fi is disabled, the users will still be able to enjoy the programs they downloaded while connected, but this mode cuts off all data usage except for when you are logged on to the internet. 

This is a great way to minimize your data usage, as once content is downloaded on the Netflix app it can be viewed as many times for as long as you want without taking a bite out of your data cap. "How much data does Netflix use?" won't be a question that stresses you out any longer if you've downloaded your content beforehand!

How to Enable Data Usage-Limiting Features on Netflix

Setting up a data usage-limiting feature on Netflix is easy and will do much to control the amount of data used on streaming. Here's how:

  1. 1
    Open the Netflix application.
  2. 2
    Select the Menu icon in the upper-right or upper-left corner of your screen.
  3. 3
    Select "Cellular Data Usage".
  4. 4
    Select Automatic, Maximum Data, Save Data, or Wi-Fi Only.

Change the Resolution of Your Streaming Box

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One other way to relieve your stress about the question, "How much data does Netflix use?" is by changing the resolution of your streaming box. This is a simple way around using a lot of data while still maintaining a good picture. 1080p video is a step down from 4K Ultra HD, but still has an integrity of picture that is not bad. Here's where you'll find the option on various types of streaming boxes:

  • Roku: Settings > Display Type
  • Apple TV: Settings > Video and Audio > Resolution
  • Android TV: Settings > Display & Sound > Resolution
  • Fire TV: Settings > Display & Sounds > Display > Video Resolution


How much data does Netflix use? It all depends on you and your choice of settings. We recommend starting conservative and then slowly adjusting settings up until you find the perfect balance of quality and data for your streaming. 

Featured image by Jade87 via Pixabay.

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