We’re all fans of Netflix. It’s a thrill to watch all your favorite movies and TV serials without shelling a penny. But there are those among us who have to live on an internet allowance. Fast internet costs more, and that’s not ideal for everyone, especially if you’re a student or saving up for your post retirement world tour. So there is way to manage your data consumption by limiting your Netflix data use. But before we get to that, let us talk a little bit about the preliminaries.
What Internet speed do you require to run Netflix?
Depending upon the image detail you prefer in your stream, and the economic feasibility of internet plans, the ideal plan for your needs varies. Netflix HD usually streams at 5 Mbps internet speed. Any lower, and it either buffers really slow, or shifts into lower quality to keep things playing smoothly. Netflix 4K UHD, on the other hand, needs 25 Mbps to run smoothly. The lowest resolutions, the order of 240p, should run just fine on your everyday internet speeds.
So it is safe to say that anyone can run Netflix. But you better have a good speed if you’re interested in keeping things running smoothly in the higher resolutions.
Netflix Data Usage: WiFi and Phone Internet
Contrary to popular assumption, there is no significant difference between watching Netflix over your WiFi vs over your 3G data pack. As long as the networks are fluent in loading, it doesn’t matter how you stream your movies.
If you use Netflix on a Medium setting, you get Standard Definition (SD) video streaming, costing a measly 0.7 GB per hour. If you have set the video quality to High, the HD videos play at 3GB per hour. But watch out if you want to play UHD videos in 4k, they’re going to take out a massive 7GB per hour. You better have a powerful internet plan if you’re going to try Netflix 4K!
Netflix 4K; How many Bytes does it bite into?
Netflix 4K is pretty much the cutting edge of content streaming in the world. And so you’re going to find it easy to guzzle through any internet allowance if you’re watching one of those movies or TV shows. Netflix 4K devours 7GB per hour of video streaming, and requires an average internet speed of 25 Mbps. This can be difficult to attain at several locations, and in several budgets. But if neither of these are an issue for you, have fun watching UHD movies and TV shows. You can also set your Data Usage settings to Auto, to prevent the stream from being interrupted by slow internet.
Interesting Read: Best Netflix 4K Movies List 2016-2017
Netflix data use on iPhone, iPad and Android devices
Netflix consumes more data on PCs and Macs than it does for Androids and iPhones. This is mostly because the bigger screens can accommodate more detail, and hence the PC version of the website streams more data, causing a bigger dent to your data plan allowance. Stay yourself from jumping in excitement, but Netflix on a device with a smaller screen can get your movies playing at thrice the data efficiency! But that still takes out 1 GB data from your plan for one hour of HD movie streaming.
That said, there are no differences in data consumed to watch Netflix depending upon whether you’re using Verizon or T-mobile. There are special offers from various commercial cellular network providers that you can use, however. You might want to look up T-Mobile’s Binge On™ plan to stream all your free movies and TV shows without incurring data costs. Specifically, try their 6GB plan, if not the higher ones.
So, is there some way to manage data consumption on Netflix?
There are ways you can easily limit the data costs you incur on your smartphone as well as PC. You need to remember that these aren’t foolproof, and won’t guarantee a minimum cost, since the internet connection can also be used for more websites and services apart from Netflix. But they definitely cut down any excess costs that might not be very palatable to you.
1. Making Netflix cost less for PC:
To limit data expenditure while watching movies and TV shows over Netflix, you can modify the data usage settings. Here’s how to do it.
1. Go to Your Account on the Netflix website.
2. Select Playback Settings in the My Profile.
3. You should be able to spot various Data Usage Settings to select. Choose one that works for you, and it should be implemented in 8 hours at most.
Choose the Low setting to cut down data usage to GB per hour of lowest quality video streaming. Medium allows SD streaming at 0.7 GB per hour, and High can get you HD 3 to 7 GB per hour, the latter being when you watch videos in 4K UHD. The default setting is “Auto”, and it adjust video quality to suit your internet speed, so as to avoid buffering halts. The lower the setting, the poorer the quality, but the less likely you are to encounter buffering halts at the average internet speeds.
2. Data management for Netflix app on smartphones
If you’re using the Netflix app, you can consume less internet on your smartphone, while also getting an arguably better experience watching movies. To manage internet consumption on Netflix app for Android and iPhone, follow these steps:
1. Launch the Netflix app. Go to the menu icon on the app’s home page.
2. Go to App Settings.
3. You should now be able to browse and select your prefered settings.
Turn the cellular data off, and you can ensure you don’t lose internet data if you lose WiFi connectivity while watching Netflix. This is ideal when you cannot afford a single MB of data lost to streaming a Simpsons episode. Auto manages your internet consumption based on the speed to get you the best quality. Of average, this should get you a healthy 3 hours of entertainment for one GB internet consumption. Low gets you 4 hours per GB, and Medium and High get you 2 and 1 hour respectively for each GB consumed. If you have an Unlimited plan, you might try the Unlimited setting, which will get you the highest possible quality available for the movie. I recommend the unlimited plan, because this setting guzzles through your internet allowance at 1 GB for a measly 20 minutes, which is about one episode of Modern Family! So choose wisely.
I hope this helped you evaluate your options. Tell me if you need more help in the comments below.