Skip to main content

By now, you probably know that streaming a movie in 4K is going to run up your data usage. But some of the apps, programs and websites you use most often might be using up data without you even noticing!

Today, we will show you how much data common online activities actually use—so you can avoid data drain and its effects on your bandwidth. If you are more of a visual learner, watch our latest Tech Tip video to follow along with tech expert Riley.

The amount of data you use depends on what you’re doing online. And as a general rule, the more data you’re using, the slower your internet is going to perform. (Note: Data usage is most commonly measured in Gigabytes, or Gigs). 

Tasks like basic web surfing, sending and receiving emails, and uploading and downloading photos consume an almost insignificant amount, unless you are downloading an entire photo album at one time. In fact, you can surf the web for 16 hours or send up to 500 emails with attachments before you use 1 Gig of data.

Social media is a sneaky source of data drain. Apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter use very little data themselves, but many of these apps auto-play videos, using up your data even if you aren’t watching. By disabling auto-play in your in-app settings, you should be able to scroll social media for up to 8 hours with 1 Gig.  

If you’re a gamer, playing online with a console like an Xbox or Nintendo Switch shouldn’t hog your data, with each game taking up less than half a Gig per hour. What really uses data is downloading and updating games. The average size of downloading a new game is about 35 Gigs, so make sure you really need the latest version of Call of Duty before you buy. 


Finally, video streaming is the main source of data usage in most households. The amount of data you use depends on the definition you choose. With 1 Gig, you can stream for up to 2 hours in standard definition, but only about 20 minutes in 1080 HD. Most streaming apps and devices offer you the ability to change the streaming resolution, so save yourself some data and lower your resolution.

With a better understanding of your data usage, you can use your data wisely and surf, game, and stream without slowing down your internet connection. That’s it for this edition of Tech Tips! Check back soon for another tip to make your technology work for you.