How Much Data Does YouTube Use? And How To Track It
Globally, over 1 billion hours of YouTube videos are watched every single day. If you’re an avid watcher, you might wonder how this translates to data usage.
When your data vanishes at an alarming rate or your mobile devices lag, YouTube may be the culprit. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to check if that’s the case. In this article, you’ll learn how much data is used when watching YouTube videos.
Why Does YouTube Use a Lot of Data?
Compared to streaming audio or viewing a webpage, watching a YouTube video will use significantly more data. But why? The answer is simple – videos are data intensive. They’re made of thousands of pixels changing several times per second. This increases the amount of information that needs to reach your device through the internet.
This intense data usage isn’t unique to YouTube. On average, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu consume even more data. However, YouTube data usage might be prevalent due to the platform’s unrestricted accessibility.
How Much Mobile Data Are You Using
The quality of your streaming video will determine how much data YouTube will use. Mobile devices usually offer a quality range from 144p to 2160p or 4K quality. The higher the quality, the more data is used. Although the figures may vary slightly, it’s useful to find out how much data YouTube uses per hour when streaming a 480p or 720p video.
How Much Data Does YouTube Use per Hour at 720p
The standard frame rate for a YouTube video is 30FPS (frames per second). For 720p quality and above, YouTube offers an increased frame rate of 60FPS. While a higher rate means a smoother streaming experience, it also means more data usage.
If you stream a 720p video at 30FPS for an hour, you will use around 1.24GB of your data. This number rises to 1.86GB if you opt for the 60FPS option.
How Much Data Does YouTube Use at 480p
Unless changed manually, the 480p resolution will be YouTube’s default playback.
With an average bitrate of 1,250Kbps, watching a 480p YouTube video consumes around 9.375MB of data per minute. If you stream a YouTube video in 480p for an hour, therefore, you’ll use around 562MB of your data.
How to Track YouTube Data Usage
Keeping track of data usage might help you understand how your data is consumed and whether you need to cut back on your usage. If you want to monitor how much data YouTube is using on your phone, there are ways to do it both on iPhone and Android.
How to Track YouTube Data Usage on iPhone
To review YouTube’s data usage on an iPhone, follow these steps:
- Open “Settings.”
- Select “Cellular.”
- Find “YouTube” in the displayed list and check the number below.
If you want to stop YouTube from using data altogether, move the slider next to the option to “Off.”
Note that the iPhone tracks your data consumption for the current period. As this doesn’t update automatically, you’ll need to tap “Reset Statistics” for each new billing cycle.
How to Track YouTube Data Usage on Android
Here’s how Android users can check how much data YouTube is using:
- Go to “Settings.”
- Navigate to “SIM card and mobile network.”
- Click “Data Settings & Data usage.”
- Select “YouTube” from the displayed list and you’ll see the usage breakdown.
The data will include two calculations – “Foreground” and “Background.” The data consumed while you were actively using the app will be displayed next to “Foreground.” On the other hand, “Background” shows how much data was used while the app was minimized. To stop YouTube from using your data when the app isn’t open, slide the “Background data” option to “Not allowed.”
Check out more ways to save your data below.
How to Save Data
Watching YouTube with mobile data can eat up your Internet data plan rather quickly. If you frequently find yourself away from your regular Wi-Fi, it might be best to take steps to reduce YouTube data usage.
Limit Data Usage
There is a way for Android users to limit the amount of data spent on YouTube videos. Here’s how to do it:
- Click on your profile picture in the top corner of your YouTube app.
- Under “Account,” select “Settings.”
- Navigate to the “Data saving mode” option on the “Data saving” page.
- Tap the toggle button to turn on the option.
Your YouTube app will now only stream HD videos when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi.
Reduce Video Quality
Generally speaking, YouTube streams videos at the highest available quality for your internet speed. While this leads to a great viewing experience, it also can eat up data quickly. Follow these steps to reduce the video quality:
- Play a YouTube video.
- Click on the Setting icon in the top-right corner of the watch screen.
- Tap “Quality.”
- Navigate to “Advanced.”
- Choose a lower-quality option.
The best option depends on your needs. If you’re aiming to save some data, choose one option lower than your current default setting. HD options use significantly more data so going 480p or lower might be best for saving a larger amount of data.
Note that the setting only applies to the video you’re currently watching. You’ll have to repeat these steps for each new video you play.
Lower YouTube Default Quality
If you don’t want to keep changing the resolution for every video you play, you can change your default YouTube settings. To save your data by default, follow these steps:
- Click on your profile picture at the top-right of the YouTube app.
- Go to “Settings.”
- Choose “Video quality preferences.”
- Select the “Data saver” option.
Although there’s no official information on the exact resolution this option uses, you’ll surely avoid HD playback when using mobile data.
Turn Off Autoplay
A great way to stop unnecessary YouTube data usage is to turn off the “Autoplay” option. If the option is on, the videos will keep playing automatically, even if you’re not watching them. To change this, locate the option at the top of your video’s watch screen and tap the “Autoplay” switch from on to off.
Disable Muted Playback
By default, YouTube will start playing a few seconds of the video you’re considering watching. As this option uses data unnecessarily, you can switch it off in five easy steps:
- Tap your profile picture in the top corner of the YouTube app.
- Go to “Settings.”
- Choose “General.”
- Scroll to the “Muted playback in feeds” option.
- Select “Off.”
If you’re fond of this feature, you can select the “Wi-Fi only” option to keep enjoying it without wasting mobile data.
Watching YouTube videos can consume a surprising amount of internet data. Luckily, you don’t have to give up this enjoyable pastime. Simply keep an eye on your data usage and limit it if it gets out of hand. Don’t worry, your favorite content creators and tutorials will be equally interesting in lower resolution.
Have you ever wondered how much data YouTube videos use? Were you surprised by the numbers? Let us know in the comments section below.