Adjust Playback Settings in Netflix to Reduce Data Usage

Streaming video online requires a lot of data, especially when it comes to high definition or Ultra HD content. If you're dealing with data caps, then it's even more important to pay attention to how much data you're consuming when using streaming services such as Netflix. There are settings you can adjust within your Netflix account that will help mitigate your data usage, though.

To adjust your streaming settings, you'll have to log into Netflix in a browser. Hover your mouse over your name in the upper right corner, and click "Your Account." In the "Your Profile" section of your account, select "Playback settings." This gives you options of what you want the default to be for streaming content.

Leaving it on "Auto" will let Netflix decide what quality setting is best based on your internet speed. This isn't ideal, however, if you have fast speeds but a limited amount of data per month. You can choose between Low, Medium, and High quality settings.

Netflix estimates that at the highest quality, it will use up to 3 GB of data per hour. Netflix also streams some of its content in Ultra HD, or "4K", and that would use up to 7 GB of data per hour. The "Medium" setting would reduce data usage to 0.7 GB per hour, while still delivering standard definition video quality. At the lowest, it will use just 0.3 GB per hour.

The last option in Playback Settings is whether or not Netflix will automatically play the next episode in a TV series. If you're concerned about data usage, unchecking this would be a good idea too.

Decreasing the amount of data used for streaming doesn't come without any drawbacks, however. This will lower the quality of the video, and watching in standard definition will look worse on an HD TV. But if you're faced with the possibility of overage charges, this will allow you to watch more content without going over your data cap.