Life is filled with many mysteries. Such as, where did the universe come from? If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? How do I conserve more mobile data? Some of these will always be a mystery, but we’ll try our best with that last one.

Learning how some of the apps you use everyday affect your data amount is key to saving money. That is something we are all looking to do, presumably. With that in mind, we decided to put together some great info for you below.

Netflix is one of the most common video apps. But that’s the problem, it’s a video app! Streaming always uses a good chunk of data. Luckily, though, Netflix has some great information on how to save data. You can easily adjust the playback settings in your account and reduce the amount of data you consume while streaming. This helps in making sure that you have a better idea of just how much data you’re using when catching up on your favorite shows (or guilty pleasure rom-coms).

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There are 4 data settings you can choose from:

  • Low: up to 300MB/hour or 150MB/episode or 600MB/movie
  • Medium: up to 700MB/hour or 350MB/episode or 1.4GB/movie
  • High: up to 1GB/hour or 500MB/episode or 2GB/movie (up to 2.8 GB/hour if HD)
  • Auto: This option adjusts itself automatically, based on your current internet speed.

Of course, these settings directly relate to video quality, so if you don’t mind a non-HD picture, try downgrading the setting a few notches. You can change these by selecting Playback Settings in your account.

Another popular activity? Streaming music. Who doesn’t like to get down with a little funk these days? One of the more popular music apps around is Spotify. The amount of data used when streaming music directly relates to the quality of the audio stream. Some of the Spotify quality options and estimates are:

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  • 96Kbps equals roughly 0.75MB/minute or 24 hours of music per 1GB
  • 160Kbps equals roughly 1.3MB/minute or 13 hours of music per 1GB
  • 320Kbps equals roughly 2.5MB/minute pr 7 hours of music per 1GB

You can adjust these by going into the preferences tab on the desktop app or settings on your mobile app. These estimates can also be used with other streaming services, such as Rdio, Beats Music, and Pandora. (Note that the options may vary.)

What’s next? Ah, YouTube of course. Our own virtual library of epic fail videos and kids saying funny stuff while on laughing gas. How does data on YouTube stack up? Well that depends on the quality you select. Here are the estimates:

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  • 8MB per 5 minute video at 240p
  • 13MB per 5 minute video at 360p
  • 20MB per 5 minute video at 480p
  • 37MB per 5 minute video at 720p
  • 62MB per 5 minute video at 1080p

You can personally choose the level of video quality by selecting the gear icon at the bottom right of the video.

Lastly, if you’re really into social media (like the rest of us), you may want to be aware of how much data you'll eat up when using. Now, these apps don’t use a lot, but considering how much time we spend with them, it can certainly add up:

Opening the Facebook app and updating the stream can use about 50KB of data or more. Downloading a few dozen Twitter updates will use roughly 70KB of data. Instagram photos will use anywhere from 30KB to 150KB of data, depending on the photo itself.
So there you have it! Mystery solved, partially. Data usage estimates will always vary and can change frequently, depending on many factors. But, if you are looking for some good, stable estimates to shape your usage around, this is a good start.

So remember, be responsible when using your data... or don't be. Surf on!


About Dave Ford

That guy who knows more about sports than technology