Unless you have an expensive unlimited plan, you probably have to keep an eye on how much mobile data you use each month. And streaming video is likely one of the biggest culprits in increasing your data quota.
YouTube is the most popular video platform in the world, so it's no wonder how easy it is to share your data allowance with it. Let's take a look at how much data YouTube uses, how to measure that amount, and tips for reducing YouTube's data usage.
Just to be clear before we continue:Yes, YouTube uses data . Besides calls and texts, almost everything you do on your smartphone uses data when you're not connected to Wi-Fi.
That includes using messaging apps like WhatsApp, streaming music on Spotify or other services, browsing social media sites and the web, and watching videos on YouTube. Consequently, reduce mobile data usage 8 Useful Tips to Reduce Mobile Data Usage and Save Money 8 Useful Tips to Reduce Mobile Data Usage and Save Money Want to get the most out of your mobile data plan? These apps and tricks can help you squeeze out every last megabyte. Read More
YouTube data usage depends on the quality you use to stream video. Mobile apps offer multiple levels of quality, from as low as 144p to 2160p (4K quality).
Estimates of the amount of data from each of these uses vary quite a bit, so let's do our own calculation to figure this out. Please note that this is not exact and your results may vary .
The YouTube Recommended Bitrates for Streaming page contains information on video bitrates for various quality options. We'll use them for reference, though of course not all videos are identical.
For 480p (standard quality) videos, YouTube recommends a bitrate between 500 and 2,000Kbps. Let's average these two extremes and use 1,250 Kbps.
1,250 Kbps (kilobits per second) divided by 1,000 gives us 1.25 Mbps (megabits per second). Since there are eight bits in a byte, 1.25Mpbs divided by eight equals approximately 0.156 megabytes per second of video. Multiplying this by 60 seconds means that 480p video uses around 9,375MB of data per minute on YouTube.
9.375MB per minute, multiplied by 60 minutes in an hour, equals approximately 562.5MB of data per hour of YouTube streaming at 480p .
Applying this same calculation to other YouTube quality options results in the following estimates for hourly data usage.
Note that for 720p and higher quality, YouTube also supports 60FPS (frames per second) video instead of the standard 30FPS. Higher FPS results in smoother video, but also higher data usage, as you might expect. Check out our tips for smoother video playback if you're having trouble with 60 FPS content.
For reference, 480p is considered standard definition. 1080p is “full HD,” which is common on YouTube. 4K video is not as widespread, but many channels offer 4K content.
360p is tolerable if you really want to save data, but anything lower than that, and you'll likely struggle to enjoy the video.
If you want to keep an eye on how much data you're using on YouTube, both Android and iOS offer ways to do this.
To check YouTube data usage on Android, go to Settings> Network &Internet> Data Usage . Here you will see how much data you have used in the current billing cycle. Tap App data usage to see a breakdown by app.
In this list, find Youtube and select it. You'll see a breakdown of your data usage for the current cycle; tap the arrows at the top to change this.
Closeup shows how much data the app used while you had it open and were actively using it. Background the data shows what the app consumed while it was minimized. Disable Background Data slider to stop YouTube from using your data when you don't have it open.
You might want to take a look at Google's Datally app. Google's new Android app can help you save data Google's new Android app can help you save data Need help managing the amount of data you use on your Android phone? Here's a new app from Google that helps you monitor your data usage. Read more for more help saving data.
iPhone users can check how much data YouTube is using by navigating Settings> Cellular . Here you can scroll down a bit and find how much data you have used in the Current Period .
Just like on Android, find Youtube and you will see how much data is used in that period. You can check what your iPhone considers the current period at the bottom of this page. If you want to stop YouTube from using data completely, just turn off its slider.
You probably don't want to completely disable access to YouTube data. Fortunately, there are other ways to reduce the amount of data YouTube uses that aren't as drastic.
The most important tip is Avoid watching HD videos while using data . While watching any video, tap the three dots Menu button and you will see the current Quality . Touch that entry to change it. Available options depend on the charger.
You can choose Auto to set quality based on network speed, but if you're trying to save data, it's best to select manually. Try 480p for a good balance between data usage and video quality.
If you don't want to change the quality of every video you watch, you can enable an option to restrict HD to Wi-Fi only.
To find this option, tap on your profile picture at the top right of YouTube and select Settings (followed by General if you are using Android). On Android, you'll find an option called Limit mobile data usage . It's called Play HD on Wi-Fi only on iOS.
Once you have this enabled, YouTube will not play videos higher than 480p on mobile data. You can reduce the quality even further if you don't mind watching videos that could as well have been shot with a potato.
YouTube's autoplay feature keeps videos even after you finish one. This can waste some data if you start playing an unwanted video without your noticing, plus it adds distractions to YouTube. you watch YouTube, then this article is for you. The list below will save you from wasting several hours of your life watching time wasting videos. Read more.
To disable autoplay, simply find the Auto-play slider on the Until next time Section below any video. Turn that off, and YouTube will stop uploading new videos on its own.
YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red) is YouTube's paid subscription service. Among other benefits, like the removal of ads, Premium allows you to download videos offline to your phone to watch on the go.
Premium is a bit pricey at $12/mo. But if you watch a lot of YouTube, that outlay can pay for itself in the data charges you save. You can download a batch of videos when you're on Wi-Fi at home, then watch them on the go without using data.
Take a look at our YouTube Premium overview. Is YouTube Premium worth the money? 7 things to consider Is YouTube Premium worth the money? 7 things to watch out for YouTube Premium is making headlines and buzz, but is the paid subscription service really worth it? We look at the facts to help you decide. Read More
Now that you know your YouTube data usage, you can make informed decisions about how much you can stream each month. By limiting HD viewing to Wi-Fi and disabling autoplay, you can still enjoy YouTube on the go without absorbing too much data. Be careful though, as YouTube has a way of luring you in for longer than you think.
Also, YouTube is not alone in stealing your data as this list of popular apps that use a ton of data These 15 Popular Android Apps May Be Losing Your Mobile Information These 15 Popular Android Apps May Be Losing Your Mobile Data mobile data such as Instagram, YouTube, Netflix, Facebook and more may be leaking mobile data without your knowledge. Toggle these settings to save data and money! Read more shows. Fortunately, you have options to reduce data usage on all of them, so what are you waiting for?