Understand What Uses Data
The first step to keeping your data usage in check is to understand what is using a lot of data and what isn’t. For example, checking your email—even if you check it four hundred times a day—isn’t going to make a dent in a 300 gig data package. But streaming videos over YouTube all day will.
It’s the gray area that might confuse most people: Facebook, Instagram, and the like. And the issue here is that there isn’t really a clear answer on what’s “safe” and what isn’t, because it’s all defined by how you actually use these types of networks.
For example, if you scroll through Facebook and watch every video that auto-plays in your feed, guess what? You’re likely going to chew through a reasonable amount of data doing so. The same goes for Instagram.
If, however, you keep auto-playing videos disabled and selectively pick and choose the content you want to watch, you’ll likely save yourself a lot of unnecessarily used data. That said, if you’re a heavy Facebook or Instagram user, you can readily chew through several gigabytes of data per week just looking at photos. It’s actually shocking how much data you can use just thumbing through Instagram (though it probably won’t set you over).
So, the loose rule here on what uses the most data down to the least when it comes to common social networks: video uses the most, by far. Music falls in the middle, and photos are going to be the smallest. Text-only, of course, is hardly even worth a mention, which is where regular web browsing falls in this line. Most of the time, just normal web use that doesn’t involve video or heavy photo viewing isn’t going to be something that makes a difference.
But since video is so prevalent on the web these days—especially if you’ve ditched cable in favor of Netflix and YouTube—let’s talk about how to save a bit of bandwidth without dramatically changing your habits.
Streaming Video: Limit Your Resolution and Bandwidth
If you stream a lot of video—be that Netflix, YouTube, or Amazon Prime—that’s most likely going to be your biggest data hog. The good news is that you can do a few things to help reduce the amount of data you’re pulling down by watching videos.
For reference, however, let’s take a quick look at Streaming data use:
– For SD (standard definition) video, Streaming uses around 0.7 GB an hour –
– For HD (High Definition 720) video, Streaming uses around 1.2 GB an hour –
– For HD (High Definition 1080p) video, Netflix uses around 3 GB an hour –
– For UHD (Ultra High Definition 4K), Netflix uses around 20 GB an hour –
You can see how that could make a dent in your data package pretty quickly.
Reduce the Output Resolution of Your Streaming Box
In a world where 4K video is becoming more and more common, it’s hard to stomach the idea of going backwards, but as noted above, the higher the video output, the more data it’s going to use. So, if you use a streaming box—like Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Android TV—then you might be able to limit your output on the box level, so all services that run on that box will be restricted to the resolution you choose.
So, if you’re currently streaming everything in 4K or 1080p, drop it back down to 720p. I know, I know—there’s a reason you bought a 4K TV and all that, but maybe reserve your 4K watching to physical discs.
Video Games: Plan Your “New Game Days”
Next to streaming video, video games are going to be the next biggest data hog—not playing them, exactly, but downloading them. If you’re a gamer (whether on console or on PC), then you already know how brutal downloading a new game can be.
It’s hard to tell someone how to manage their data, because it really comes down to lifestyle, but you really have to be smart about it when it comes to new games days—it takes planning. For example, if you’re close to the end of your data cycle and still have ample data, go ahead and download the next game you’re going to be play, even if it’ll be a few weeks before you get around to playing it.
Similarly, if you’re going on vacation one month, and know you’re going to use less of your monthly data (since you’ll be away from home), download several games for the next few months while you can.
We hope these tips will help you get the most out of our 300 gig plans.