How To Reduce Netflix Video Streaming Data Usage to Save Bandwidth

Netflix video streaming can use up a lot of bandwidth and data, especially if you stream in high definition. Here are some tips to reduce Netflix data usage and save bandwidth.

Check Your Netflix Plan

The first step is to check what Netflix streaming plan you have. The basic Netflix plan only allows streaming in standard definition, which uses less data than high definition or 4K streaming.

Upgrading to the Standard or Premium Netflix plans will give you access to high definition and 4K streaming, but use more data. If you want to limit data usage, consider sticking with the Basic Netflix plan or downgrading if you’re on a higher tier plan.

Use Lower Video Quality Settings

You can reduce Netflix data usage by changing the video quality settings:

  • On the Netflix website:
    • Go to your Account page and open Playback Settings
    • Select Data Usage Per Screen and choose a lower option like Medium or Low
    • This will limit video quality to standard definition which uses less data
  • In the Netflix mobile apps:
    • Open the app settings and go to Cellular Data Usage
    • Choose “Save Data” which restricts video quality to around 480p

Lower video quality means using less data per hour of streaming. The tradeoff is that the video won’t look as sharp.

Download Videos to Watch Offline

The Netflix mobile apps allow you to download movies and shows to watch offline later. Downloaded videos don’t use any data while watching, so it’s a great way to reduce streaming data usage.

The disadvantage is that you have limited storage space on your device. Make sure to delete downloaded videos after watching them to free up space for more downloads.

Use Netflix’s Data Saver Browser Extension

Netflix offers a free Chrome browser extension called Data Saver that can reduce data usage by up to 50% while streaming on a PC. It works by lowering video bitrates without sacrificing quality.

The extension is available on the Chrome Web Store. Install it and enable Data Saving mode while streaming Netflix to save bandwidth.

Stream Over Wi-Fi Instead of Mobile Data

Streaming Netflix over Wi-Fi doesn’t count towards your mobile plan’s data allowance. Connect your phone, tablet, or laptop to a Wi-Fi network when available to avoid consuming mobile data.

You can configure the Netflix mobile apps to only allow streaming while connected to Wi-Fi in the Cellular Data Usage settings. This will prevent accidental mobile data usage.

Monitor and Limit Streaming Time

Binge watching Netflix for hours will inevitably rack up a lot of data usage. Try to be mindful of how much time you’re spending streaming and limit long viewing sessions.

You can also monitor your data usage in your device or mobile carrier account settings. Knowing exactly how much data Netflix is using can help you adjust your streaming habits.

Use Third-Party Data Saving Apps

There are various third-party mobile apps designed specifically to save data usage for streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube. Examples include Datally, Onavo Extend, and Opera Max.

These apps work by compressing and downgrading video streams to use less data. Performance varies across the different apps, so try a few to see which works best for reducing your Netflix data usage.

Use a Browser Extension VPN

Virtual private network (VPN) browser extensions like Hola VPN or DotVPN can route and compress your internet traffic to save data usage. They work while streaming Netflix on a desktop web browser.

The disadvantage is that free VPN browser extensions often have bandwidth limits, slow speeds, privacy concerns, and don’t work as consistently as paid VPN services. But they can help reduce data usage in a pinch.

Tips to Further Reduce Netflix Bandwidth Usage

Aside from limiting video quality and streaming time, there are some additional tricks to save bandwidth while streaming Netflix:

  • Close unused browser tabs and apps running in the background that can consume data. Netflix will run smoother with more network bandwidth available.
  • Disable autoplay of next episodes, since this causes Netflix to silently stream more content after you finish watching a show. Turn off autoplay in your Netflix account settings.
  • Hide the Netflix video stream when you’re passively listening to a show and don’t need to watch the video. The audio track uses much less data.
  • Turn off Netflix post-play screen savers to stop unnecessary streaming minutes after you stop watching a video.
  • Test internet speeds to rule out network issues before adjusting Netflix video settings. Slow buffering could indicate a bandwidth bottleneck outside of Netflix.

Checking Data Usage

It’s important to monitor how much data bandwidth Netflix is actually using across your devices.

Internet modems and routers have data usage monitoring tools to measure total household bandwidth usage. Mobile carriers also provide data usage tracking for individual cell plans.

For per-device Netflix data usage, check the app settings under Cellular Data Usage (mobile) or Playback Settings (web browser) for data usage statistics.

Keeping an eye on data usage numbers over time is key to judging what measures are effective in reducing your overall Netflix streaming bandwidth consumption.

Reducing video quality, streaming selectively over Wi-Fi, and setting data limits can go a long way towards cutting your Netflix bandwidth and data usage.

Try some of the tips outlined here to save data bandwidth without sacrificing your entire Netflix streaming experience. Analyze your data usage over time to tweak settings and streaming habits until you find the right balance.

Being smart about limiting and optimizing Netflix streaming can let you enjoy more content while staying within your monthly data limits!