How much data does Netflix use to download?

There’s no doubting that Netflix is one of the best options for those looking for a good streaming service. One of the best things about Netflix is that the app is much better than most others out there on the market.

However, one thing that comes with streaming is the usage of a lot of data. If you’re not careful, then you can easily use more than 100GB of data per month. And if you don’t have the right network provider, then this could end up costing you a fortune.

One potential way around this is to download the movie or show you want to watch in full. But how much data does downloading through Netflix actually use? Well, we’ll look at the estimated usage for most people.

How much data does Netflix use to download?

The good news is that Netflix uses the same amount of data for you to download shows and films as it does to stream them. This rounds off at around 1GB of data per hour of entertainment that you download, which means that most movies should only use 2-3 GB of data per film.

However, this is when you’re watching Netflix in its standard definition. There will be different data usage amounts if you want Netflix at a higher resolution, which can consume significantly more data (we’ll get to that in a minute). I’ll get onto how much data Netflix uses to download in high definition in a minute.

This means that if you want to download a full film in SD, then you’re going to need to use 2GB+ of data. This isn’t so bad, but it can start to add up. This is especially true when you start to consider watching Boxsets instead.

You’re going to need to use more than 60GB of data if you want to download a full series like Breaking Bad. This kind of cellular data usage is going to be way too high for most people.

So, should you stream or download? And how can you limit your amount of data used? Let’s continue to find out more about Netflix downloading.

Netflix: downloading or streaming?

For some people, the ability to download will actually be pretty useful. Why? Well, you can opt to download a movie or film instead of just streaming it online for the same amount of data usage. This means that you’ll have the download there ready to watch again and again, all of the same capacity as just streaming it once.

Essentially, whether you’re going to stream a TV show or you’re going to download it, you’ll be using the same amount of data. Why? Well, because the file is going to need to be sent to your device either way, whether you choose to stream and watch it once or download it fully.

If you plan on ever watching the TV show or film again, then go ahead and download it. This means that you’ll be able to stream it again whenever you want, without having to worry about your data plan.

Also Read: Netflix Party on iPhone: What is it and how to do it?

What about in HD quality?

Okay, so this is all good and well if you’re downloading content in standard quality. But what about if you want to stream shows in higher definitions? Well, this can increase the amount of data that you use quite significantly.

So, firstly the standard definition that Netflix streams and downloads with is 640 x 480p – this is the definition you’ll want to be using if you only want to equate 1GB to 1 hour.

If you opt for the package up from this, then you’ll be able to watch shows in either 720p resolution or in some cases, in 1080p resolution. It all depends on the title and your methods of watching.

For this, it can actually double or more your overall data usage. So, expect to use 2-3GB of data for streaming one hour of film in this HD mode. As you’d expect, high definition does give you a good video quality.

Netflix also have an Ultra HD package, and if you have caps on your data, then you’re going to want to avoid using it. It streams in Ultra HD quality, which is 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, also known most commonly as 4k.

This can use 5GB+ of data for one hour of watching, and anywhere up to 7GB per hour of streaming, so just bear this in mind. Only use it if you need the highest possible quality.

How to Use Less Data

If you’re trying to find out exactly how much data that Netflix uses, then the chances are that you might be overdoing it in terms of data. Maybe you’ve got a capped limit that you don’t want to go over, and you need to space your usage out over the month.

Now, we know that watching one hour of Netflix is equal to 1GB of data usage, whether you download it or stream it. Here are a few tips for using less data.

Download at home – If you can, make sure that you download all of your Netflix watches at home, where you’re likely to have a higher data cap. This means you can save them for later and won’t need to use your mobile data. This applies for other apps too, especially Spotify.
Turn off updates – One thing that can tend to use a lot of data without your knowledge is having your apps update in the background. Turn this off, and update them when you’re connected to your router (check our router guide here).
Check your usage per app – The good thing about smartphones is that we have the ability to see which apps are using the most data. Go into your settings and see which app is using the most, and then you can put a plan into place to use less of this app.
Use Lite Apps – In some cases, you might be able to find a variation of your favourite apps thats been created in a lite variation. A good example of this is Facebook, which also has a Facebook Lite you can use that will use up less data.
Lower resolution – If you have the HD packages, then you could consider watching shows at a lower resolution when you want to use less data. This could enable you to significantly decrease the amount of data you’re using.


All in all, it’s clear to see that there’s actually not much of a difference between data usage, whether you choose to stream Netflix or you download them fully onto your device. For this reason, it’s probably best to download them if you have the space, as you’ll get replay value out of them too.

Although in saying this, there are tons of different deals out there nowadays for high data consumption packages. So, it could be worth shopping around to try and increase the amount of data you have, as if you can get an unlimited data plan, then it doesn’t really matter how much you use.

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About Nathan

Hello! I'm Nate. I work for an internet company during the week, so you'll probably see me on here jabbering about the internet and building websites, which is my main side hobby.

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