If you’re anything like the average, modern internet user, most of your data use is from watching videos online. Whether that’s Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube, video streaming uses data faster than surfing the web, browsing social media, or listening to music. That’s because when you watch a video, your device is downloading thousands of pictures every minute of streaming. It’s no wonder that those on limited data plans have to be extra careful when it comes to videos they watch online.
So let's take YouTube, for example. How much can you watch per GB of data? YouTube, like other streaming services, allows for different video settings that will use vastly different amounts of data over time. The default for many YouTube videos is 720p resolution. With that video quality, you can watch 40 minutes of video per GB. Not all videos come in 1080p, but for those that do, you only get about 20 minutes of watch time per GB. That’s burning through your data like a fuse. If that wasn’t enough, some videos will offer resolutions in the HD range, even up to 4K HD. If you watch at that resolution, prepare to use up an entire GB every four minutes or so.
Fortunately, you have the option of opting for lower video qualities with YouTube. 480p will give you 2 hours of watching per GB, and the lowest quality, 144p, will give you about 12 hours of watching per GB. There are also options for 360p and 240p, which will come out somewhere in the middle. If you are on limited data, whether from your internet provider or your phone carrier, it’s always a good idea to monitor your data and limit your video quality to make sure your service lasts all month long.
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