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How much data does YouTube use? Plus 6 tips to conserve your data while streaming

By Mint Fox

Originally published February 18, 2022


Last Updated March 3, 2023

Phone with videos showing how much data YouTube uses
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If you’re an avid fan of haul videos, puppy videos and “baby hears mom’s voice for the first time” videos, you’re probably on YouTube a lot. And you’re probably wondering two things: does the YouTube app use data and how much data does YouTube use?

Not to alarm you, but streaming videos is one of the most data-sucking activities you can do with your phone if you’re not using Wi-Fi or you’re streaming high-quality videos (resolution-wise, not content-wise). It’s not a YouTube-specific thing, though, it just takes a lot of data to transmit and stream videos to your phone, especially in comparison to transmitting just audio. 

The good thing is that there are several ways you can help conserve your data, too. Read on to find out more about how much data you might be using while perusing YouTube and 6 tips to conserve your data.

How much data does Youtube use?

While streaming on the go, you might get curious and ask yourself, “does YouTube use a lot of data?” One of the main factors is the YouTube mobile video quality of whatever it is you’re streaming. YouTube data usage depends on whether the YouTube resolution on your video is high-quality (like a video streaming at 1080p) or low (like 144p kind of low).

If you measure things by gigabytes and megabytes (have no clue what we’re talking about? Check out our blog on all things gigabytes and megabytes) and wondering how long will 1GB of data last on YouTube, 1 GB allows you to watch approximately 500 minutes of YouTube. We recommend not doing that in one sitting though.

showing how to find how much data youtube uses

How to check YouTube data usage

Checking out how much data YouTube is using depends on your phone:

If you have an Android

Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile network. This will show you how much data you’re using in total, but you can go to App data usage to see what YouTube is using specifically.

If you have an iPhone

Go to Settings > Cellular. From there, you can find YouTube and see what its data usage is for your phone. Note: The “Current Period” doesn’t automatically reset each month, so you may be seeing a total from many months. If you want to reset the statistics to monitor how much you use, scroll to the bottom of the page and hit “Reset Statistics.”

mint fox showing how to conserve your data while streaming

Tips for Reducing YouTube’s Data Usage

If you’re a little shook by your YouTube data usage, check out these tips on how to limit data usage on YouTube and how to decrease data usage on YouTube.

1. Download videos to watch YouTube offline

Did you know you can watch YouTube offline? If you’re a YouTube Premium user, one of the easiest ways to reduce your data usage is downloading these videos so you don’t have to use up your cellular data to stream. Plus, you’ll never be without a steady stream of mukbangs. It’s one of the easiest ways to answer the question of how to not use data on YouTube.

2. Lower video quality while streaming

As we mentioned earlier, the amount of data you’re using is dependent on the quality of the video you’re watching. If YouTube is using up tons of your data, lowering the quality of the videos you’re watching is a massive YouTube data saver. Curious how much data each quality of video is using up? Check out this handy chart with estimates (with info courtesy of Android Central and Tech Advisor).

Lowest quality (144p resolution)Low quality (240p resolution or 320p)SD quality (480p)HD quality (720p-2k)4K Ultra HD Quality
80MB/hr0.3GB/hr0.7GB/hrBetween 0.9GB/hr and 3GB/hr7.2GB/hr

As you can see, reducing your YouTube resolution is a great way to save your data. You can even go as low as 144p resolution. Not sure how to reduce the size of a YouTube video? In the video player, tap “More” to adjust the quality of the video. You can even go to your YouTube profile and change the video quality for all videos you watch if you want to be safe. 

By the way, YouTube itself decides the default video quality based on how strong your internet connection is, so you’ll always want to check the quality of the video if you’re worried about your data. 

3. Watch videos on Wi-Fi

Watching on Wi-Fi will make it so your phone isn’t using your cellular data, but instead using the Wi-Fi at your house (or your favorite local coffee shop). Not sure what we’re talking about? Check out our guide to the difference between Wi-Fi and cellular data

But if you’re asking, “how do I reduce YouTube usage on Wi-Fi?” then check out our tip below on autoplay, or reduce your streaming quality. You can also go into your YouTube settings and make sure the option to “Play HD on Wi-fi only” is selected. This will save you a ton of data, because you don’t really need to be watching cat videos in 4K.

4. Turn off autoplay

Left to its own devices, your YouTube account will use autoplay and start playing the next round of lofi music videos all by itself. To prevent this (and save some data), a simple fix is to turn off autoplay. You can toggle it on or off on the watch screen of any video.

5. Disable cellular streaming

If you want to go a step further with tip #3, you can actually disable all cellular streaming to conserve your data. How do you do that? If you have an Android, swipe down on your device and tap the Mobile Data option. From there, disable cellular streaming. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular and toggle Cellular Data off. If you’re in a rush, you can also go into airplane mode for either type of device to disable cellular streaming.

6. Disable muted playback

When you’re scrolling through your home page or subscribed video feeds on YouTube, YouTube will play a few seconds of the video as a muted preview. This is another way your data can be sucked up into the streaming abyss. You’ll want to head back to your YouTube settings and turn off the option for Muted playback in feeds. 

Remember to like and subscribe

So now you know how much data YouTube uses. If you know you’re a big-time streamer, you’ll want to get a wireless plan that accommodates all of your YouTube-ing. Luckily, we have a plethora of wireless plans that would suit you and all of your streaming needs.

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