How Much Data Does Netflix Use? We’ve Tested It.

Ever found yourself embroiled in a Netflix marathon, only to be halted by an unwelcome notification of data exhaustion? Perhaps you’ve been pondering how streaming that new 2-hour Netflix original is impacting your data plan? These scenarios are all too common. Previously on our site, we delved into the broader topic of data usage for streaming movies in general. However, I felt it was time to delve specifically into Netflix’s data usage, considering its widespread use and popularity.

This guide aims to help you navigate the world of Netflix data usage, offering insights into how much data you’re using while watching your beloved shows and movies. In today’s data-driven age, being aware of your data consumption is as essential as managing your time. Whether it’s “Stranger Things,” “The Crown,” or the action-packed “Extraction 2,” we want to make sure you can enjoy your Netflix time without any unwelcome surprises in your data usage. So, buckle up as we decode Netflix data usage together.

Understanding Netflix Data Usage

At its core, Netflix data usage is all about the quality of video streaming you select. The platform offers four main settings, each varying in the amount of data consumed per hour. Whether you’re a fan of crisp, ultra high definition visuals, or content with standard quality, Netflix has a setting to match your preference. However, each step up in quality consumes a larger chunk of your data, so it’s vital to make informed decisions.

Here’s a straightforward table to break it down:

Quality LevelData Usage per Hour
Low0.3 GB
Medium0.7 GB
High (SD)1 GB
High (HD)3 GB
Ultra High (4K)7 GB
AutoVaries based on connection speed

In the ‘Auto’ setting, Netflix automatically adjusts the quality based on your current internet connection speed. This is quite nifty as it ensures smooth streaming, but if you’re working with a limited data cap, you might want to consider a fixed setting to avoid unpredictability in data consumption.

Scenario 1: Netflix Data Consumption on a Cellular Data Plan

Now, if you’re like me, and you find yourself enjoying a good bit of Netflix on the go, data usage becomes an even more critical factor to consider. Cellular data plans can be costly, and surpassing your allotted data can hit your wallet hard. But don’t worry, Netflix has you covered with its range of mobile data usage settings.

Here’s how the different settings stack up:

Mobile Data Usage SettingsApproximate Data Usage
Automatic4 hours per GB
Wi-Fi OnlyData not used
Save Data6 hours per GB
Maximum Data1 GB per 20 minutes

The ‘Automatic’ setting is a good middle-ground, balancing your data usage with video quality. The ‘Wi-Fi Only’ setting is perfect for those keen on preserving their data – this makes sure you only stream when connected to a Wi-Fi network. ‘Save Data’ maximizes your viewing time, allowing about six hours of watch time per GB of data. And then there’s ‘Maximum Data’, which provides the highest possible quality, but be warned, this can consume 1 GB per every 20 minutes of viewing! This last option is best suited for those with unlimited data plans.

Adjusting these settings is a breeze. Simply open your Netflix app, select ‘More’ or ‘Profile’, head over to ‘App Settings’, and under ‘Video Playback’, select ‘Cellular Data Usage’. Choose the setting that best matches your data plan and viewing preference. And just like that, you’re all set!

I’ve Tested It!

As a practical example of data usage on a cellular data plan, let’s consider my recent experience. I watched “Extraction 2” (a 2-hour movie) on Netflix, on the ‘Automatic’ setting over a 5G network. The movie was displayed at a great quality, and at the end of it, my data consumption was approximately 0.5GB. This consumption could vary based on network conditions and device capabilities, but it gives you a realistic idea of how much data you might use watching a movie on your mobile device on the ‘Automatic’ setting. This hands-on example demonstrates how effectively Netflix manages data usage without compromising your viewing experience.

Scenario 2: Data Consumption for Streaming a Netflix Movie on a Wired or Wi-Fi Connection

Let’s imagine you’re settling in for a movie night at home. You’ve got your popcorn ready and you’re about to dive into the thrilling world of “Extraction 2” (clocking in at approximately 2 hours). You’re connected to your home Wi-Fi or perhaps a wired connection, and you’re curious about how much data this viewing pleasure is going to consume.

Here’s a handy table to illustrate how your choice in streaming quality affects data usage for a 2-hour movie:

Quality LevelData Usage for “Extraction 2” (2 hours)
Low0.6 GB
Medium1.4 GB
High (SD)2 GB
High (HD)6 GB
Ultra High (4K)14 GB
AutoVaries based on connection speed

As you can see, streaming “Extraction 2” in Ultra High Definition (4K) would consume approximately 14 GB of data, while the same movie in low quality would only use about 0.6 GB. For most of us, High Definition (HD) offers a satisfactory viewing experience and will use around 6 GB for the entire movie. If you’re unsure about your data cap or your internet connection speed, the ‘Auto’ setting can be a safe bet as it adjusts the quality based on your current connection speed.

How to Adjust Your Netflix Data Usage Settings

Now that you’re equipped with all this knowledge about Netflix’s data usage, you might be wondering how to put it into practice. The good news is, adjusting your Netflix data usage settings is quite straightforward. Here’s how:

  1. Open up a web browser and go to your Netflix Account page.
  2. Look for the section labeled ‘Profile & Parental Controls’ and select the profile for which you want to adjust the settings.
  3. Under this profile, go to ‘Playback settings’ and select ‘Change’.
  4. Here, you’ll see the various data usage settings you can choose from. Select your desired option based on your data management plan.
  5. Don’t forget to click ‘Save’ to ensure your changes are applied.

Remember, restricting data usage may affect video quality, so choose a setting that balances your need for picture quality with your data usage constraints. It’s all about finding a balance that works for you, ensuring you get the most out of your Netflix experience without breaking the data bank.


We’ve navigated the waters of Netflix data usage together, unpacking the various settings and how they impact your data consumption, both on mobile and home networks. With this information in your hands, you’re now equipped to make informed decisions that align your streaming habits with your data plan.

Remember, it’s all about finding the balance between enjoying high-quality streaming and not running out of data halfway through the month. But now, whether you’re indulging in a Netflix binge on your phone during your daily commute, or having a movie night at home, you can do so with the confidence that you’re in control of your data usage.

So go on, fire up Netflix, adjust those settings, and get back to enjoying your favorite shows and movies. After all, they’re made to be watched, not to cause data headaches! Enjoy your streaming journey with Netflix.

Further reading:

Pgoto: Photo by Matoo.Studio on Unsplash

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About S. Santos

๐Ÿ‘‹ I'm a technology columnist and blogger with over 10 years of experience, currently serving as Blue Cine Tech's AV Editor. Specialising in gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology, my work has been featured in top technology blogs. I'm dedicated to breaking down the complexities of the latest tech trends, from explaining the intricacies of Dolby Vision to optimising your streaming experience. This blog serves as a platform for my ongoing exploration of the ever-evolving tech landscape. If you see me at industry events like CES or IFA, feel free to say hello.

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