What amount of data does YouTube actually use? Explained


YouTube uses how much data? Find out how YouTube uses mobile data and how you can reduce it.


You should be aware of how much data you are using every month, even if you don’t have an unlimited data plan. YouTube streaming video is one of the main culprits in consuming your data allowance. You should therefore be aware of YouTube data usage to ensure that you don’t pay more.

Let’s look at how much YouTube uses data, how it is measured, and what tips you can use to reduce YouTube’s data usage. It’s impossible to guess how much data YouTube uses again.

YouTube uses data?

Before we go any further, YouTube uses mobile data. Apart from SMS texting and calling, nearly everything on your smartphone is data-intensive even if you aren’t connected to WiFi.

This includes messaging apps like WhatsApp, streaming music from Spotify and other services, browsing social media sites, and watching videos. Reducing mobile data usage has become a major concern.

You can view YouTube videos on Wi-Fi. However, YouTube videos can be viewed anywhere else and require data.

YouTube uses so much data

Video transmission is a heavy operation. Video has many thousands of pixels, which can change multiple times per second. This means that a lot information must be sent through the internet to reach your device.

Video is more complex than downloading an image or streaming audio and therefore requires more mobile data. YouTube isn’t the only one that suffers from this problem. Many other video streaming services also use large amounts of data.

What amount of data does YouTube use? A Calculation

YouTube’s data usage is affected by the quality of the video streamed. You can stream video from your mobile device to the desktop website or YouTube apps for other platforms. The quality of the videos you stream will vary between a low of 144p and a high of 2160p (4K quality), if your device supports it.

There are many estimates of how much data each setting uses. Let’s do our own calculation and find out. Please note that these estimates are not precise and your results might differ.

YouTube’s streaming assistance page provides information about recommended video bitrates to suit different streaming quality options. These are just guidelines, but not all videos will be the same.


YouTube recommends using a bitrate of 500 to 2,000Kbps for 480p video (standard resolution). Let’s take these extremes and average them to 1,250Kbps.

1,250Kbps is a unit of speed. It’s divided by 1000 to give us 1.25Mbps (megabits/second). Because there are eight bits per byte, 1.25Mbps is roughly 0.156 megabytes of video. This means that 480p video consumes 9.375MB per minute on YouTube.

9.375MB per hour times 60 minutes results in 562.5MB data per hour YouTube streaming at 480p.

YouTube Quality Data Usage Comparison

This calculation is applied to YouTube’s quality options, and the results are these: YouTube data usage per an hour.


YouTube supports 60FPS videos for quality 720p and higher. This is in addition to the standard 30FPS. As you would expect, a higher FPS results is smoother video but also more data consumption. YouTube supports HDR video. However, HDR videos require additional data and are not common at the time we wrote this article.

  • YouTube does not provide a bitrate at 144p.
  • 240p: 225MB an hour
  • 360p: 315MB an hour
  • 480p: 562.5MB an hour
  • 720p at 30FPS – 1237.5MB (1.24GB/hour)
  • 720p at 60FPS – 1856.25MB (1.86GB/hour)
  • 1080p at 30FPS – 2.03GB an hour
  • 1080p @ 60FPS: 3.04GB an hour
  • 1440p (2K), at 30FPS 4.28GB an hour
  • 1440p (2K), at 60FPS 6.08GB an hour
  • 2160p (4K), at 30FPS 10.58GB an hour
  • 2160p (4K), at 60FPS 15.98GB an hour


For comparison, 480p can be considered standard definition. 1080p is also known as “full HD”, , and it is the highest quality YouTube channels upload. Although 4K video is not as common, there are many channels that offer 4K media.

360p is acceptable if you want to save data. However, you will likely have trouble enjoying the video with any lower than this.

YouTube: How can you track your data usage

Both Android and iPhone offer ways to monitor how much data you are using on YouTube.

How to review YouTube data consumption on Android

Go to Settings > Internet > Mobile network to see YouTube’s data usage. This will show you how much data was used during the current billing cycle. To see a breakdown of data usage by app, tap App Data Usage

Select YouTube from the list. The data usage of the current cycle will be displayed. Tap the dates to alter this.

Foreground displays how much data was used by the app while it was open and you were using it. Background data displays what the app used while it was minimized. To stop the app using your data , disable the Background Data slider.


It is important to keep Unrestricted Data Usage off. YouTube can still access as much data as it needs, even if Data Saver mode has been enabled.

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How to check YouTube’s data usage on iPhone

iPhone users can see how much data YouTube has used. To check, navigate to Settings > Mobile. You’ll find YouTube below the top choices, and you can see its data usage.

This information is tracked by your iPhone for the Current period. Unfortunately, your iPhone doesn’t automatically update this timeline. To start a new data consumption period, scroll down to the bottom and click Reset Statistics. To get the best results, set up a reminder each time your billing cycle starts.

You can also disable YouTube’s mobile data use by turning off the slider below.

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How to reduce data usage on YouTube

Most people don’t want YouTube to block all data access. There are other methods to decrease data consumption on YouTube, but they are not as drastic.

YouTube Video Quality Adjustment – Watch Your Videos

To reduce data usage, the most important tip is to not watch YouTube videos at high resolutions and use mobile data. To open a menu of options, tap the three dots Menu button in the top-right corner of any video.


This will display the current Quality. To change the quality of your video, tap this button. First, choose Auto. Or one of the two vague options Higher quality or Data Saver.

YouTube doesn’t explain these options, which can be frustrating. Higher picture resolution will play the video at 720p, or higher depending on your internet connection. Data Saver will likely cap the video at 480p.

To change the quality of your video, tap Advanced. These options will depend on the information provided by the video uploader.

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Auto can be convenient but it is better to choose an option manually if you want to save data. 480p is a great option to balance data usage with video quality.

This can only be done to the current video, as the app says. If you wish to change the quality of a video, you will need to do it every time you create a new one.

You can set your default YouTube quality options

The YouTube app allows you to set a general quality preference that applies to all videos. This allows you to avoid HD playback on mobile data so that Auto mode doesn’t stream at 1080p.


This option can be found by tapping your profile picture at the top-right in YouTube. Select Settings > Video Quality Preferences. You can choose from Auto or Higher picture quality. There are separate options for Wi-Fi and mobile data.

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These options are not exact and you cannot choose a resolution to be the default. This allows you to tell YouTube that you don’t want HD video played while you are using data.

You can turn off video autoplay

YouTube’s Autoplay feature allows you to keep the videos playing even if you have finished one. It can cause data to be wasted if it plays a video that you don’t want. You should disable this feature.

To disable Autoplay, locate the Autoplay slider located at the top or any video and move it to the left so that it displays the Pause symbol. YouTube will no longer load new videos by itself after you do this. To disable YouTube’s autoplay , you can tap on your profile picture.

A related point: YouTube buffers videos while you watch them, so it will consume more data than what the calculations above show. If you don’t plan to continue watching a video, pause it. This will maximize your data savings.


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YouTube Feeds: Disable muted playback

YouTube will play a portion of the video that you are looking at on certain pages like Home and Subscriptions. You can disable this feature or make it work only on Wi-Fi.

Tap your profile picture in the top-right. Next, go to Settings. To access General, click Playback In Feeds. To avoid data wasting, change this to Off or WiFi only .

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YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium YouTube’s paid subscription service. Premium offers many other benefits such as the removal of ads and the ability to download videos offline to your smartphone for viewing wherever you are.

YouTube Premium costs $12 per month. This is for the quality of what it offers. YouTube Premium can be expensive if you use YouTube a lot. However, the data savings you get from it could make up for the subscription fee. When you have Wi-Fi, you can download several videos and then view them on your phone.

Our overview of YouTube Premium provides more details.

Make sure you are careful with your YouTube data usage

Knowing how much data YouTube consumes allows you to make informed decisions about how much you stream each month. You can still watch some YouTube videos while on the move by limiting HD viewing to Wi Fi and disabling autoplay.


YouTube can draw you in for longer periods of time than you planned. YouTube isn’t the only one that uses a lot of data.


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