Does your Amazon Fire stick use data when idle?

One of the most common questions about an Amazon Fire stick is just how much data they use. Whilst it does vary depending on what exactly you’re doing, there some activities that use more data than others. Something that has a massive impact is the resolution you watch your shows in.

With most of us preferring to watch our Fire stick, Roku or Apple TV in 4K nowadays, it makes sense to try and use as little data as possible if you’re on a limit. But does a Fire stick use data even when you’re not using it? That’s what we’re going to answer.

Does an Amazon Fire stick use data when idle?

The truth is that yes, your Amazon Fire stick will still use a fairly small amount of data when it’s idle. It’ll usually use around 20kb/s if you have the Fire stick plugged into your television but you’re not using it at all.

However, one thing that can raise the amount of data your Fire stick uses is the screensaver. When you leave your Fire stick to go into standby mode, it’ll start to show a screensaver as your background image.

Believe it or not, this can actually run through quite a lot of data if you leave it on the screen for a decent amount of time. You’re going to be using closer to 20mb/s of data as opposed to just 20kb/s of data when the screensaver isn’t showing.

So, the best thing for you to do is actually turn off your screensaver completely. You can do this by going to the Display and Sounds option in your Settings.

display-and-sounds

Once you’re in here, it’s very easy for you to access the Screensaver option. This is where you can make changes to what happens when you leave your TV alone for a certain amount of time.

screensaver

Finally, you’ll want to select the option Never, which will stop your Fire stick from even entering into screensaver mode.

never-sleep

This is a great way to reduce the data usage of your Fire stick when it’s idle. There are also a few different apps that might be worth checking out as well that can do essentially the same thing.

You could also look at an app that sets an image as the Screensaver instead. Then, setting a black photo as the background is another way to reduce the amount of data you’re using.

How to check data usage on a Fire stick

You can find the data usage of your Fire stick by first heading into the Preferences section.

preferences

Here, you’ll be able to monitor the amount of data you’re using on your device. You can also put a maximum cap on it too so that you don’t use up more data than your allowance.

data-monitoring

You do need to turn Data Monitoring on to be able to really see the amount of data you’re using. Typically, the screensaver will have used a fair amount at this point. So, it’ll be easy to see why that’s the first thing to go when your Fire stick is idle.

Three other ways you can reduce your Fire stick data consumption

Though most of us have unlimited data packages in our homes, this isn’t going to be the case for everyone. If you’re using a hotspot with your device, then you’ll probably want to use as little data as possible.

And as we can see above, they can use a whole lot of data over the days that you use them. Here’s a couple of the ways you can reduce their usage to a bare minimum.

Reduce your resolution

The easiest way for you to restrict the amount of data your Fire stick uses to a minimum is by using the lowest resolution you can. This is actually fairly easy to do, as you can change it within the settings of your Fire stick.

First, you need to go to the Display option, which you can find in Display & Sounds.

display

Within Display, you’ll find the option for Video Resolution. You can then change your resolution to something lower. It’s a good idea to opt for 720p if you’re trying to minimize data usage.

video-resolution

The higher the resolution, the more data that you’re going to use. This is especially true if you’re going to be running 4K, which can use in excess of 7GB of data per hour of streaming.

And the truth is, many people won’t notice the difference between 1080p and 4K streaming unless they’re pretty close to the TV. So, this is the first thing we’ll do to reduce our consumption.

Turn updates off

Another thing that can dramatically reduce the amount of data you’re using is to turn the automatic updates off on your device. Generally, apps don’t need to be updated as often as they are, and you can likely only do this every so often as and when you need to.

This is not just great advice for your Fire stick, but it’s also a pretty sound method to stop higher data usage on your other devices. On mobile phones and tablets, you do have the option to set apps to only download over wi-fi, which is another alternative.

Turn ads off too

You’ll probably notice that Amazon has a fair amount of ads on the homepage of your Fire stick. If you want to turn interest based ads off, then you can find it in your Privacy Settings.

interest-based-ads

Though it might not make a whole lot of different, it’s fairly straightforward to do. And if it saves you a few GB of data over the course of the year, then it’s definitely worth doing.

Conclusion

Overall, it’s been known for quite some time that the Fire stick can go through a whole lot of data with ease. Fortunately, for most people that isn’t going to be much of a problem. Many of us now have unlimited broadband in our home, making this largely irrelevant.

But in cases where you may have to limit your internet usage, you’ll need to keep an eye on your Fire stick. It can use a lot of data, even if you only use it for a few hours.

About Steve

Hi, I'm Steve. I've worked for the past 8 years in a major furniture retailer in the UK, so I know my way around a desk or two. On the weekends, I spend time with my kids or I'm probably outside in the garden doing something or other!

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