How Much Data You Need Based On Your Favourite Online Activities

Data usage
Image: iStock / Wachiwit

We’ve partnered with Optus for their Unlimited Data Day.

Depending on your phone plan, it’s not uncommon to have to fork out a minimum of $10 for an extra gigabyte when you unknowingly burn through your allotted data watching YouTube videos of people you don’t know, doing things you don’t care about.

But how much data are we actually using while hitting up our go-to apps? Watching a couple of TV shows while you sit on a train to and from work might seem harmless enough, however, when you add it up over a month, that data, too, adds up.

We’ve broken down how much data each app used (depending on the frequency of which you use them) to help you keep track of your monthly allowance, whatever it may be.

If you know you’re about to blow a whole chunk of data on any given day, jump on Optus’ Unlimited Data Day*. It costs an extra $5 for 24 hours of unlimited data. Hypothetically, you could stream 24 episodes of Mad Men without ever having to worry about going over your monthly limit.

YouTube

The general rule of thumb for streaming services is that higher-quality equates to more data used – that’s a given.

For example, if you watch YouTube videos at the lower end of the spectrum at 480p (don’t do it though it’s terrible quality), you’d only be using 562.5MB per hour. However, if you watched videos at the highest quality, 1080p, you’d be looking at 3.04GB per hour. That’s a huge difference.

So, if you’re a regular YouTube visitor, either cut down on how often you watch videos or sacrifice your viewing pleasure with a low-quality option.

A happy medium would be to watch videos at 720p, which uses up 1.85GB per hour.

Spotify

Spotify, for a lot of people, will be the most-used app by far – especially if you work in an office where listening to music is permissible.

Again, it all comes down to the quality of music you’re listening to. WhistleOut has summed it up below:

  • Normal – 40MB/hour
  • High – 70MB/hour
  • Extreme – 150MB/hour

So, let’s say you listen to the highest quality tunes on average eight hours a day, you’ll be using 1.2GB a day. If you only have a 20GB/month plan, you’re in trouble.

Netflix

According to Netflix’s website, the data used is quite similar to YouTube (which makes sense considering they’re both streaming videos).

For standard definition TV shows or movies, you’ll use around 1GB of data per hour. If you’re watching HD content, it can use up to 3GB per hour.

Not terrible, but again, it adds up.

Gaming

Perhaps surprisingly, online gaming doesn’t use up as much as one might expect (unless of course you’re in the middle of downloading a 200TB update for an existing game, which is an entirely different story).

Here’s a handful of the most popular games and how much data they consume:

Fortnite, DOTA 2, Overwatch and Warframe all use around about 100MB per hour of play. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Destiny 2 top the list at 300MB and 250MB per hour respectively, while World of Warcraft, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Rocket League are towards the bottom at 40MB each. Other popular games, like Team Fortress 2, League of Legends and Rainbow Six Siege all track in at between 50MB and 100MB of data per hour.

General Browsing

Depending on sites you’re visiting, straightforward internet browsing can use up around 60MB per hour – a comparatively low number compared to your other data-consuming online hobbies.

*Optus Unlimited Data Day: For use on mobile phone devices in Australia only. Fair Go Policy applies. Not for commercial use. Add on may be withdrawn from sale without notice. Full terms and conditions here.

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