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How much data does YouTube use?

By Ashley Burnett

Originally published October 13, 2023


Last Updated March 20, 2024

How much data does YouTube use?

If you’re an avid fan of haul videos, puppy videos and “baby hears mom’s voice for the first time” videos, you’re not alone. YouTube is the 2nd most-visited website in the world, has more than 114 million active channels and 2.6 billion monthly active users in over 100 countries, with 122 million logging in every day. With all that time spent on YouTube, you might be wondering: 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. So let’s dive in and answer the question of how much data does YouTube use.

In this article

Does YouTube use a lot of data?

Globally, YouTube uses over 440,000 terabytes of data daily. But how much you personally use depends on, well, your personal use. If you like streaming videos in high-quality, you’ll end up using more data than someone streaming low-quality videos. It’s why having flexible mobile data helps – sometimes you just need to watch that cat video in 4k.

Chart showing how much data YouTube uses based on video quality

How long will 1GB of data last on YouTube?

As we mentioned above, it depends on whether you’re streaming high quality videos (1080p) or low (144p). High quality videos use about 3 gigabytes an hour, while low quality ones use 80 megabytes. YouTube will decide on your default settings depending on how strong your internet connection is, but it’s always a good idea to toggle it to the quality you want – for mobile viewing, that’s probably around 480p, which would use 500MB an hour and net you two hours of mukbang videos. Sweet. (Or maybe savory?)

How to check YouTube data usage

Check YouTube data usage on Android

  1. Go to Settings 
  2. Tap Network & Internet
  3. Select Mobile network
  4. Scroll down to see YouTube data usage

Check YouTube data usage on iPhone

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap Cellular
  3. Scroll down to see YouTube data usage 

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.”

List of ways to reduce YouTube data usage

How to reduce YouTube data usage

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

Change video quality as needed

While watching, you can click the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen and adjust video quality as needed, especially if you’re not currently on Wi-Fi.

Use YouTube’s Data saver feature

Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Data saver lets you lock video quality to 480p, so you’re not accidentally streaming a Vogue Beauty Secrets video at the highest quality possible. 

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. In the YouTube app, click your profile picture
  2. Under Settings, select Video quality preferences
  3. Tap mobile networks, then choose Data saver mode

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 travel vlogs. It’s one of the easiest ways to not use data on YouTube.

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). 

Disable cellular streaming

Did you know you can actually disable all cellular streaming to conserve your data? 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.

Turn off Autoplay

Left to its own devices, your YouTube account will use autoplay and start playing the next round of lo-fi 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. Or, you can also turn it off by clicking on your profile pic, selecting Settings, choosing Autoplay and switching it off.

Disable muted playback

When you’re scrolling through your home page or subscribed video feeds, YouTube will play a few seconds of the video as a muted preview. It’s a little similar to background app refresh (which you might also want to turn off). This is another way your data can be sucked up into the streaming abyss. To disable muted playback, open YouTube and tap your profile icon, then tap Settings and Select Muted playback in feeds to turn it off.

Remember to like and subscribe

So now you know the answer to how much data YouTube uses and also have a better idea on how much data you need depending on your streaming habits. Now you might be curious how much data Spotify uses or maybe how much data Google Maps uses. Or maybe you’re just ready 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 your streaming needs. Just click the button below to find your perfect wireless match.

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