How Much Data Does YouTube Use?

14 November 2017


We have a simple but expensive relationship with data. The more data we use, the more we’re likely to pay on our mobile phone bills.

Unfortunately, the YouTube videos we love to watch on our phones can really burn through our data. So, how much is that exactly?

Read on to find out...and the next time you're watching 'Gangnam Style' you'll know how much it'll cost you in data!

How much data YouTube uses in a minute?

At the default setting on YouTube on your mobile phone, you'd be using 4MB+ data per minute. 

This quickly adds up to 240MB per hour, and 1 gigabyte every 4 hours. 

Why is this important? Some mobile phone plans still only come with 500MB of data per month (good for only half an hour of YouTube!). Picking the right mobile phone plan is important. 

The data you'll use depends on the picture video quality you’re watching-- the lower the video quality of YouTube video you're watching, the lower amount of data you’ll use. 

HINT: You can find out what the YouTube video quality is by tapping on the Menu (three vertical dots) in the top right corner and then selecting Quality.

A low quality video (240p) will use around 1.6MB per minute, but a high definition HD (1080p) video will use as much as 12MB per minute. YouTube's default is set to 480p. 

YouTube Data Usage 
Video Quality 240p 360p 480p720p 1080p
Per min. 1.6MB 2.66MB 4MB 7.4MB 12.4MB
Per hour 100MB 160MB 240MB 450MB 750MB

How much data does YouTube use in a month?

At the standard settings, 1 hour of watching YouTube on the train (i.e. when not connected to WiFi) every day for the month would require over 7GB of data in your mobile phone data plan. 

If you watch less, say an average of 30 min a day of video at 480p, you'll use up about 3.5GB of data a month.   

Monthly YouTube Data Usage
Video Quality 480p 720p
30 min/day 3.5GB 7GB
1 hr/day 7GB 14GB
2 hr/day 14GB 28GB 
Find a Mobile Phone Plan for YouTube:

How do I reduce my YouTube Data usage?

YouTube’s auto setting is 480p, but you can lower it way down to 144p if you’re in Defcon 1 data-conservation mode. The lower quality of video will use up less data. 

On either iOS or Android, you can reduce your data usage from Youtube drastically by changing the following settings:

1. Open YouTube > Tap on the Menu (three vertical dots) > Select Quality.

2. Select lower quality 144/240p option.


Does YouTube use up more or less data than streaming Netflix?

YouTube generally uses less data than Netflix. At medium picture quality, one hour of YouTube viewing will cost you 100MB vs 500MB of Netflix. 

Netflix has three video quality settings to stream:low, medium, and high (Netflix auto setting). Here's what each setting will cost you in data. 

  • Low: 250MB per hour
  • Medium: 500MB per hour
  • High: 1GB per hour for HD, 7GB per hour for 4K
1 hour of YouTube vs Netflix
Video Quality YouTube Netflix
Low 100MB 250MB
Medium 250MB 500MB
High 750MB 1GB


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