netflix
(Netflix)

  • How much data your Netflix account uses while streaming videos on the platform varies depending on your account settings and internet connection.
  • You can change your account settings to increase or decrease how much data Netflix is allowed to use when you're streaming its content.
  • Here's what you need to know about your Netflix data usage, and how to change the settings for it on your account's profile.
  • Visit Business Insider South Africa's homepage for more stories.


When you're trying to figure out how much data you actually need, it's useful to think about your usual online activities - creating documents, shopping online, gaming, and, very likely, video streaming.

When it comes to Netflix, the amount of data you use can vary greatly depending on a number of factors.

Here's what you should know.

How much data your Netflix account uses in streaming

When you stream videos on Netflix, the company says you're using about 1 GB of data per hour, provided you're streaming in standard definition. Those streaming in high definition, on the other hand, use "up to 3 GB per hour."

But there are actually several levels of data usage, so your true usage will depend on how your account settings are configured.

In addition to an "Auto" feature that changes your streaming automatically to the highest-quality possible for your internet connection, there are three levels of quality you can stream Netflix in:

  • Low: Basic definition streaming at 0.3 GB per hour, for each device.
  • Medium: Standard definition streaming at 0.7 GB per hour, for each device.
  • High: High definition streaming at up to 3 GB per hour, for each device; you can also stream in Ultra HD, a higher-definition feature meant for 4K televisions that uses up to 7 GB per hour, for each device.

It's important to note that the default setting is "Auto" - meaning your data usage could be substantially higher than that 1 GB per hour figure that the company quotes, if, for example, you're streaming with a high-speed internet connection.

How to change how much data you use when streaming Netflix

You can choose to manually change your Netflix account's level of data usage. Here's how.

1. Go to your Netflix account (make sure you're signed in).

2. Choose the profile you want to adjust the data usage on (keep in mind that you can't choose the "kids" profile for this action).

Choose the Netflix profile you're looking to change the settings for.
Devon Delfino/Business Insider

3. Under your profile icon in the top-right corner, click "Account."

Click "Account" in the dropdown menu of your profile icon.
Devon Delfino/Business Insider

4. In the "My profile" section, select "Playback settings."

Click "Playback settings."
Devon Delfino/Business Insider

5. Select the data option that suits you best (you can also disable auto-playback from this screen) and click "Save."

Choose the best streaming option for you.
Devon Delfino/Business Insider

Keep in mind that it may take up to eight hours for your changes to take effect.

And in case you're wondering, downloading videos uses about the same amount of data as streaming. So you aren't saving data (or losing extra data) if you opt to download a show for viewing when you don't have internet access.

See also: How to use Netflix codes to find specific categories of movies and shows that Netflix won't show you otherwise

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