Updated: March 24, 2020 6:35:50 pm
If you find yourself exhausting your monthly broadband data or the daily mobile data limits these days, you are not alone. The coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown means more people are working from home. Add to that schools are also closed and with children at home the end result is that a lot more data is being consumed whether for work or for entertainment purposes.
Especially for those with children at home, streaming apps or services like YouTube, Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video can all act like solid data guzzlers. Already Netflix, Amazon Prime Video have announced they will be reducing streaming quality in Europe, America.
But there are settings in each of these apps to ensure that you can optimise your data consumption. We explain how to keep a track for some of the popular streaming services.
Netflix: How to optimise data usage while streaming
The good thing about Netflix is that they give out comprehensive details on how much data is consumed based on the settings. According to the help page, watching shows or movies on the streaming service will see the consumption of around 1GB of data per hour at standard definition or 720p. For HD video, this jumps up to 3GB of data per hour. The page also notes that “downloading and streaming consume a similar amount of data.”
So how can you reduce some data usage on Netflix? Well, the service has four options for data usage. There’s low which consumes 0.3 GB per hour per device, followed by medium or SD, which comes to 0.7 GB per hour per device and high which consumes around 3GB per hour. The highest is the Ultra HD or 4K which consumes 7 GB per hour per device.
Keep in mind that the data usage settings only apply to the one Netflix profile. So if there are other profiles, you will need to optimise the data consumption settings for each of them. Follow these steps to optimise your data consumption on the Netflix website.
Log into Netflix.com
Select the profile for which would like to change your data usage settings for and select Account
Under My Profile, select Playback Settings
Select your desired data usage setting, though the default is usually at auto. Netflix says saved changes will take eight hours to reflect.
For managing data consumption on mobile follow these steps:
Open the Netflix app.
Go to app Settings
Select Cellular Data Usage or Mobile Data Usage
If it is on automatic, you can switch to the Save Data mode. Or switch to WiFi only.
In the Settings menu, there is also an option for video quality. Check if that is at standard or higher. Higher will use more storage when you download content. Netflix says users will not be able to change this setting if they have any pending downloads. Cancel them, and then try again or wait for them to finish.
With automatic settings for mobile data usage, Netflix does around 4 hours of streaming per GB of data. The save data setting, brings down consumption per GB to around six hours of streaming on Netflix. The maximum data setting streams at the highest possible level and uses nearly one GB per 20 minutes or more. It would be best to change it if this is the level right now on your devices.
Amazon Prime Video: How to optimise data usage while streaming
Amazon Prime Video also lists out the amount of data used when streaming at different quality options. The service uses around 0.38GB data per hour with a good quality setting, for better it rises to 1.48GB per hour. The best quality setting consumes nearly 6.84 GB per hour. If you are streaming on desktop, you can change the quality from the video itself.
As soon as the video starts playing, you will see a settings symbol on top of the video player
Click on that, and it will show which video quality the content is being streamed at
Switch to the Good setting to conserve data
For optimising data on the Amazon Prime Video app, follow these steps
First, go to the app, followed by My Stuff, and click on the Menu symbol.
Go to Stream & Download> Manage quality and WiFi.
You will see the Streaming Quality option right on top. It will show four options to choose from, which are as follows: Good, which uses around 0.18GB per hour, Best which uses 1.82GB per hour, Better which uses 0.72GB per hour and Data Saver, which uses 0.12GB per hour.
Pick the option which suits you the best.
There’s also an option for streaming at highest quality on WiFi and you might want to turn it off in the settings if you are looking to save data.
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Amazon Prime Video’s app also lets you control data usage when you are using Google Chromecast. In the settings, there is an option for managing Cast Data as well. Just go to the Cast Data option and check usage. If it is at the unlimited setting, you can change to the Balanced option, which is around 1.80GB data per hour or data saver at 0.72GB per hour.
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick will also let you choose the video streaming quality. Follow these steps:
Go to Fire TV Menu followed
Settings followed by Preferences and Data Monitoring
Here you will see the option for setting video quality
Choose the quality. Good is the lowest and best from a data consumption point of view
You can also set a Data Alert and monitor your usage from this page
Hotstar: How to optimise video quality
Unlike Amazon and Netflix, does not list out the exact data being consumed at each setting, though the options for streaming quality range from Auto to Low, Medium and High. Here is how to optimise streaming on Hotstar:
In the Hotstar app when you play a video or movie, just tap on it, and you will see the settings option appear
Tap on Settings, and you will see Video Quality as an option below
Tap on Video quality and choose the streaming quality you would want to fix
For Downloading content, Hotstar lets you choose from High, Medium and Low. Movies or content downloaded at High resolution will usually be over 1GB
YouTube: How to optimise streaming
On YouTube, you can select the Settings symbol when playing a video on the desktop website, and it will show options for Autoplay, Annotations, Playback Speed, Subtitles, and Quality. In Quality, you can choose from default 480p to go lower to quality options. These are 360p, 240p and 144p. There’s also the Auto option, which streams at the best rate possible. Of course, the higher quality options are available at 720p, 1080p or 4K, but that will depend on the device.
Still you can make sure when your child is binge-watching those toy reviews on YouTube, the quality is limited to 480p or 360p in order to preserve data. Here’s how to optimise when watching on the YouTube app.
On the YouTube app, click on the three dots menu at the top of each video
Tap on the Quality and change the video resolution based on your data needs.
Work from Home appears to be the norm for many of us. We at Indian Express tech have some articles which could help make this easier. First, how to optimise your WiFi, which is really important. Read on that here. Next, we explain how to save data on WhatsApp given we might be using a lot more of this. Then we explain how you can balance screen time while doing work from home. Also these video calling apps can be useful when relying on work from home. Don’t let it be all about work, you can rely on these fitness apps to continue that workout during the lockdown. And finally some general tips to keep in mind while working from home.
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