In the US, approximately 14 million have given up on their traditional TV service since 2010 for the amazing convenience of streaming available now. With over-the-top streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, DIRECTV NOW, and Hulu, streamers can easily watch their favorite movies, shows, original series, and much more at their convenience. While the advancement in technology has allowed these streaming services accessible on smartphones, however, one thing that a lot of streamers feel disappointed in is the amount of data these applications consume.
If you are also disappointed with the high data consumption by these applications, you would want to know the different ways you can save your data while not giving up on your favorite shows or movies you wish to watch on these streaming apps. To know how to save bandwidth while streaming videos, go through the information provided below.
Guide to Save Bandwidth While Streaming Videos
When you stream all of your TV, it can consume a lot of data. As some internet service providers cap the data usage to 1 TB or lower per month, you may have to pay more charges to get the same high-speed when you go over the data limit in a month. Keeping this factor in mind, and the fees and annoyance of slow internet, you may want to keep the TV subscription for its cost-effectiveness.
There are a few workarounds, however, that can help you ensure that data caps don’t become an issue after you give up on your TV connection. Here, the key is to know how much data you’re using exactly and how you can minimize the consumption if you are using it a lot.
Does Streaming Consume a lot of data?
Technically, streaming videos is a type of downloading only. Although when you stream videos, you are not saving a file to your device. Just like when you download a song to your device, streaming a song consumes data, and the amount of data consumed to download vs. stream is almost the same. This means that when you stream a large size file, like a TV show of 30 minutes in HD, you could be consuming a substantial amount of data. Below are the estimated data consumptions for 1 hour of streaming:
- Standard Definition (SD) Video – 1 GB
- High Definition (HD) Video – 3 GB
- 4K Ultra-HD video – 7 GB
- Music – 115 MB
Well, 1 GB might not look like much, however, if you consider how much you stream, including all the other things you use your internet for — Gaming, Social Media, Wi-Fi Cameras, Homework, File Downloading, and others, the data usage can get exhausted quickly.
1) Check Your Internet Usage
Internet service providers with data limits should provide you a quick option to keep a track of how much data you’ve consumed in a month. For example, HughesNet internet connection comes with an option to check how much data you’ve consumed and how much is remaining in your plan. You can check this usage easily via their HughesNet mobile application. Similarly, internet service providers like Xfinity and Cox also offer mobile apps that let you see the internet data balances. Alternatively, you can also check your data usage from the website of your internet service provider.
2) Make it a Habit To Check Data Usage
It is recommended to make it a habit to check your internet data usage at least once every 5 days so that you can manage your data accordingly and use it wisely till your plan gets renewed. Instead of having to check your data usage every few days, you can also see if an option is provided by your internet service provider that allows you to set alerts to inform you when you have reached or exceeded the data limit of your plan. AT&T and Xfinity are two Internet service providers that allow you to go for data usage and alerts in the account settings.
An alternate option keeps a track of your internet data usage is by looking up how much data you’ve consumed after streaming a session. As long sessions of streaming TV will lead to high data usage, having an idea of how much data is consumed in a session will help keep you managing your data in a better manner.
3) Set a Limit for your Internet Data Usage
One of the best solutions to avoid data limit exhaustion when streaming video is to put a limit on the data in your device. In Android devices, you can do this easily by going to the Settings section of your device, tapping on the data usage option, and simply turning on the “Alert me about data usage” option. Enabling this option will allow you to receive notifications about how much data you are consuming.
4) Streaming TV and Keep Your Internet Data Usage in Limit
If you find that you are about to exhaust your internet data limit when checking your data usage, or if you wish to stay within the threshold, there are a couple of ways to minimize the data you use when streaming. Below are the suggestions that you can consider:
5) Try to Stream Videos in Standard Definition
Yes, there is no better experience than watching a newly-released blockbuster in 4K, however, is it necessary to watch Friends in High Definition? Most of you might answer it as “NO”. So, it is suggested to try streaming videos in standard definition as much as you can to save data usage on your internet plan. Also, try not to leave your video streaming running when falling asleep.
When you try to be selective of the content to watch in 4k or HD, you can save a lot of data. Popular streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix allow you to select the video quality in the settings section of the video you are playing. If you are using Netflix, you can easily set the streaming quality to Low (0.3 GB/hour per device), Medium (0.7 GB/hour per device), or High (3 – 7 GB/hour per device). If you are using any other streaming service, you can look for the option in the account settings with your streaming provider and keep the video quality accordingly. You may not like the quality much on Your TV, however, you will be happy to see the saving on usage you will be able to make and use it till the end of the month.
6) Keep your Streaming App or Device Off
All streaming devices and services come with different features and functionalities. While some applications feature an auto-shutoff or turn-off option with your TV, some applications are configured to keep the stream alive long after you’ve even stopped watching, consuming your data without your knowledge.
In such a case, it is suggested to make sure that your streaming device gets turned off once you’re done streaming videos through it. In certain cases, streaming devices function with your TV’s power, so simply switching off your TV can also help in cutting power to the device. If you are streaming videos on your computer, phone, or tablet, you will need to make sure that the application you use to stream is closed, and not just minimized, running and screaming in the background.
Streaming services like DIRECTV NOW, Netflix, and others stop streaming if you leave them turned on, however, this occurs generally after a few hours have passed. These few hours will also lead to loss of data. What’s good about these services is that they allow you to turn the auto-play feature off as well. For this, you will need to go to the account settings of your streaming service and disable the auto-play setting option.
7) Use an Antenna for Local Live TV
You don’t need a stream and data for streaming services like YouTube TV, Hulu, and DIRECTV NOW as they allow you to stream live local channels. Like TV antennas, they are capable of picking up local networks for free. A quality antenna can be purchased for around $20 and it can give you a reliable, data-free source for local programming. The newer antennas are even capable of providing HD display, so you can watch sports broadcasts, primetime TV, local news, and much more in HD quality, without making use of your limited data.
8) Download Videos You Wish to Watch Again
If you or anyone in your home, especially kids watch a show, movie, or series, again and again, it is suggested to better download it instead of streaming it. This way you will need to spend your data only once, and the content will be available for watching as much as you want (or are allowed to) without consuming more data each time you watch. In certain streaming services, you might have to pay something for the download, however, it’s a better option than exhausting your data limit.
The same solution applies to music as well. If you are paying for a music streaming service however you are listening to the same 10 songs, again and again, it is best to simply download them. Doing so will allow you to listen to them on repeat without consuming data again and again.
9) Select Internet Service Provider Offering Unlimited Data Usage
The simplest way to overcome the annoyance of limited internet data is to not have one in the first place. Numerous internet service providers are known for offering unlimited data usage plans. Some of these service providers include – AT&T Fiber, Windstream, Optimum, Suddenlink, Verizon Fios, Spectrum, Xfinity, and Frontier.
10) Take Advantage of Data Free Zones
Internet service providers such as HughesNet and Exede are known for offering customers free data to use during off-peak times. This is generally either very early morning hours or very late at night. This means that during these timings you can browse the internet or download files without making them count toward your monthly data limit.
Netflix recently released a feature that allows you to download movies and then watch them later without making it count toward your monthly data allowance. You might find it a bit of a task, waking up during these timings just to download the content, well, there are numerous free download managers available online that allow you to schedule your downloads. Make use of these kinds of applications for your Netflix movies to schedule downloads during these free zones.
11) Close Applications Running in the Background
When you leave programs running in the background while streaming videos, your internet data consumes more bandwidth than required. This not only empties your data cap but also leads to buffering and a blurry picture while streaming videos. Therefore, it is best to check your application manager before streaming videos to see that there is nothing open in the background.
12) Disable Autoplay
By default, certain video streaming applications like YouTube plays another video when you’re done watching the video on the player. To save your data, you might want to disable the Autoplay option. With Autoplay disabled, you will have complete control of the videos that you wish to watch and when you want to watch them.
So, these are the different workarounds that can help you save your internet bandwidth while streaming videos.