How much data do you need?
How much data does web browsing use?
Approximately 7GB per month
Census data suggests the average Australian browses the web for around 48 hours per month. An average web page is about 2.5MB in size, which works out to be 7GB around per person, per month.
How much data does Skype use?
Approximately 25MB per hour for video
Skype really doesn’t use much data at all. A video call uses about 360KB per minute, which is about 25MB per hour. Voice-only calls use even less. You’d need to make 50 hours of video calls over Skype to even use 1GB in a month.
How much data does Netflix use?
From 300MB per hour
Netflix has three quality settings for when you’re streaming in your web browser, on your smart TV, or on your game console.
- Low: 300MB per hour
- Medium: 700MB per hour
- High: 3GB per hour for HD, 7GB per hour for 4K
If you haven’t adjusted these, there’s a good chance that quality is set to “auto”, which means you’re streaming in the highest possible quality. If you’re streaming on high (or auto), watching a season (13 eps) of your favourite show could use as much as 39GB.
How much data does Stan use?
From 570MB per hour
Stan has four quality settings for when you’re streaming in your web browser, on your smart TV, on your game console.
- Low (SD): 570MB per hour
- Medium (SD): 1.13GB per hour
- High (HD): 2.89GB per hour Ultra (4K): 7GB per hour
Ultra is currently only available on select smart TVs and consoles, and only for select programming, so most users will see “high” as the best available option. Watching a season of your favourite show on Stan (13 episodes) on high will use about 37GB.
How much data does streaming music use?
Approximately 150MB per hour
Music streaming data usage will depend on the service that you’re subscribed to. However, in most cases, you’ll never use more than 144MB, which is when you’re streaming music at 320kps (roughly 12MB a song).
If you’re using the free tier of Spotify on your computer, you’ll only stream at 160kbps, which is roughly equal to 72MB per hour – half the quality (and half the data usage) you get as a paying subscriber.
Apple Music only streams at a single quality – 256kps – which is equivalent to 155MB an hour.
Google Play Music tries to stream at 320kbps, but adjusts depending on the strength of your connection.
If you’ve got a subscription to a lossless music streaming service like Tidal, expect to use around 640MB per hour.
How much data does Facebook use?
Approximately 2.5GB per month
Given how image heavy Facebook is these days, you’ll use slightly more data than you would on most websites.
You can expect to use around 2MB per minute, although this can grow if you’re watching lots of video. Facebook’s video streams do however tend to use less data than YouTube or Netflix.
The average Facebook user spends about 20 hours on the website per month, which means you’ll need about 2.5GB of data for each Facebook user in your household. A little more if they’re addicts.
If you’re hoping to cut down on your Facebook data usage, make sure you set videos to “never auto-play” under Videos and Photos in the settings menu.
How much data do you need for gaming?
As much as 60GB per game download
Actually playing games online doesn’t necessarily use much data. In most cases, you’re looking at about 50MB per hour, but some can require a lot more.
That being said, downloading and updating games is a lot more taxing on your data allowance. If you’re gaming on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or PC, new release big budget titles are now clocking in at over 60GB in size. Games tend to be smaller on the Nintendo Switch.
Post-release updates aren’t insignificant either, with many clocking in over at a gigabyte.
The good news is, if you’re buying a game online, your digital storefront of choice will almost certainly tell you how big the download is ahead of time.
How much data renting movies & TV shows use?
From 1.5GB per movie
Renting or buying a movie or TV show from a service like iTunes or Google Play can result in drastically different data usage depending on what you’re watching and in what quality.
For example, an average SD quality movie on iTunes will be about 1.5GB, while a HD quality movie will be about 4GB in 1080p. But if you wanted to watch one of the Lord of the Rings extended editions, this jumps to 3.6GB in SD and 7.5GB in 720p and 8.2GB in 1080p. Thankfully, iTunes makes file-size information available underneath each movie and TV show on the iTunes store.
Google doesn’t do the same on the Play Store, but we’ve found you can tend to expect similar data usage to iTunes.
If you wanted to rent four HD movies a month through iTunes or Google Play, you’d be looking at a minimum of 16GB of data per month.
How much data does Foxtel Now use?
From 1.4GB per hour
If you’re on a compatible console, set-top box, web browser, or Chromecast, Foxtel Now will use as much as 1.4GB per hour for standard definition video, and as much as 3.2GB per hour for high definition video. Streaming an entire season of Game of Thrones (10 episodes) in high definition would use about 30GB.
How much data does YouTube use?
From 100MB per hour
YouTube’s data usage will vary depending on the quality you’re watching. A low quality video will use around 1.6MB per minute, but a Full HD (1080p) video will use as much as 27MB per minute. Some YouTube videos offer higher qualities such as 1440p and 2160p (4K), which will further increase the amount of data you use.
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How much data do different activities use?
Below we’ve got a quick overview of what kind of internet plans are best for popular online activities. These recommendations are based on using just one of these apps or services, so if you’re using more than one regularly, consider opting for a larger allowance.
The difference between ‘bits’ and ‘bytes’
To make things super confusing, Data Downloads and Data Speeds are calculated using two different measurements. Keep an eye on which letters are capitalised.
- MB: Downloads are measured in bytes: Megabytes (MB), Gigabytes (GB), etc. Each increment is 1000x larger than the one before it. So if you download a 500MB file, you are using 0.5GB of your monthly data allowance.
- Mbps: Speed is measured in Megabits per second. There are 8 bits in a byte. Therefore, if your connection speed is 100Mbps, you can download 12.5MB of data per second. If a movie you download is 1GB in size, it will take 80 seconds to download at this speed.
If you want to keep track of your usage when downloading, the speed of your connection has no bearing on how much data you are using. The important information is the size of the file being downloaded. This is what will affect your cap.
Data saving tips and hints
It may be you’ve just looked at your monthly data usage and had a bit of a shock. Maybe you were hoping to sign up for a plan with less data but are going just over the limit. How can you cut back? There are some simple things you can do and it won’t involve banning your family from Netflix.
- Set Facebook videos to never auto-play Facebook uses around 2.5GB per month, but this can grow if you’re watching lots of videos. To make sure Facebook never plays a video unless you want it to go to Facebook Settings, Videos and photos and select Never auto-play.
- Check your Netflix and Stan streaming quality Netflix has three quality settings for streaming in your web browser, while Stan has four. The data usage per hour differs between these two services but generally they amount to low, medium or high quality, and the data usage ramps up significantly between these options.
If you haven’t adjusted these settings, there’s a good chance that quality is set to “auto”, which means you’re streaming in the highest quality possible on your current internet connection and device.
Have a play around with different quality settings on your streaming subscriptions. You may find you’re satisfied with a lower quality. What’s more, streaming on the lowest setting rather than the highest can save around 2GB per hour.
- Download movies in SD rather than HD If you’re regularly downloading or streaming movies from services like iTunes or Google Play, you can save a lot of data by choosing SD over HD. On smaller screens you probably won’t notice the difference and downloading an average SD quality movie on iTunes will be about 1.5GB, while a HD quality movie will be about 4GB.