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Use Netflix and YouTube without Using Up Your Mobile Data

Streaming media consumes bandwidth regardless of how you consume it. The challenge for mobile users is how to enjoy streaming media without too much data usage over their cell phone connection and an insane phone bill at the end of the month. Here are a few tips on how to use Netflix and YouTube without using up your mobile data.

Adjust Your Settings in Netflix

If you want to reduce your Netflix data usage, you can alter the settings from high (up to 3GB per hour) to low (0.3 GB/hour) or medium (0.7 GB/hour). These options are right below the auto setting. The auto setting lets the device choose the best download rate for your connection speed, though this may be a high download rate if you have a good connection. You can access these settings on the Netflix Android app by going to Account, Playback settings. Another option is going into the App Settings menu and telling Netflix to restrict streaming to when you have a Wi-Fi connection.
You could also go to the company’s website and minimize your usage by selecting the basic or standard video quality option.

In all of these cases, you need to repeat the process with every user profile.

Adjust Your YouTube App Settings

In the YouTube mobile app, hit the menu button, choose quality and lower the video quality. This change in and of itself will reduce the data demands. The YouTube Android app seems to save this setting until changed, but the iOS app regularly needs the setting adjusted to save on bandwidth. Unlike the Netflix app that saves your settings across all devices, you will have to repeat this process on every mobile device that uses the YouTube app.

The YouTube app also lets you prevent HD streaming on non-Wi-Fi connections.

Find Alternatives

One possible solution is looking at what apps are consuming your bandwidth and killing them. For an Android device, go to Settings, Data Usage and see which apps are using the most data. For an iOS device, go to settings, cellular to see the apps using the most data. Reducing their data usage or disabling them could free up data for use by your streaming media apps.

You could take it even further by using a data-saving app designed to reduce data usage on videos across all of your apps. Conversely, Wi-Fi hotspot finder apps help you find these hot spots. Connect with them and let your device download the data without hitting the cellular network.

Some users control their data usage by turning on alerts so they know how much data they’re consuming. This could be set up through your phone’s settings or through data-saving apps. Or you could use online tools that can download songs from YouTube to iTunes. And always look for ways to reduce streaming video quality, since you don’t need high resolution when you’re watching the video on a small phone screen.


You don’t have to choose between enjoying streaming videos and being able to afford your phone bill. There are a number of options for reducing the data usage of YouTube and Netflix without losing the ability to watch videos.