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How to reduce YouTube data usage on a Windows 10 computer?

By Emmanuel Seriki | January 13, 2020 |

greater than 7 minutes

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YouTube is the biggest video streaming site or service on the web, so it is only natural that people spend a lot of time streaming or watching stuff on the platform. Well, we have come to expect that users contribute a lot of their data and bandwidth to YouTube.

If you go to YouTube, you will find it incredibly hard to watch just one video (and then leave the platform). The chances are that you will end up watching several videos before you eventually realize or notice that you have been on YouTube for a while.

You are hardly the only one who watches many YouTube videos. In fact, most people with a decent broadband connection watch YouTube videos every day. In any case, it makes sense that you are looking to learn how to reduce YouTube data usage on a PC.

In this post, we intend to show you all the effective methods or ways through which users get to cut down on their data consumption or bandwidth usage rate while on YouTube. But first, we will examine how much data YouTube generally consumes with respect to different variables or factors.

How much data does YouTube use?

Almost everything you do on the web requires or uses data. Video streaming takes the cake, though. YouTube’s data usage or consumption rate is largely dependent on the quality of the video being streamed. YouTube offers users multiple levels of quality, from 144p (which is the lowest available) up to 2160p or 4K (which is the highest provided).

All videos differ from one another, so we cannot establish specific figures for how data will be used when a video is streamed at specific quality levels. At best, we can provide estimates (rough numbers that tend to vary quite a bit).

YouTube provides some information on the video bitrates that it recommends for streaming stuff at various quality options. Here, we intend to use the figures provided as our reference (or baseline). Not every video is identical, after all, but we have to settle on something.

If you intend to stream a video at 480p (which is standard quality), YouTube recommends a bitrate between 500 and 2000Kps. Ideally, we should extrapolate the averages between both figures – since they are on the extremes of the scale. Therefore, we will use 1250Kbps.

We can then convert 1250Kbps (Kilobits per second) to a figure in Mbps (Megabits per second) this way: 1250 divided by 1000 equals 1.25. So, we have 1.25Mbps. We do know that there are 8 bits in one byte, so we can also convert 1.25Mbps (Megabits per second) to a figure in MB/s (Megabytes per second) this way: 1.25 divided by 8 equals 0.156 MB/s.

We now know that a video streamed at 480p uses up 0.156 MB every second. If we multiply the data figure by 60 seconds, then we get 9.375 MB, which is the data consumed by the video in a minute. And if we multiply 9.375 by 60 minutes, then we obtain 562.5 MB, which is the data consumed by the video in an hour.

Well, we now have all the figures for the data consumption when a video is being streamed on YouTube at 480p. We obtained the needed data for other quality options from YouTube and made similar calculations to figure out the estimates for those settings.

You might want to check the values and figures on this list of estimates for hourly data usage on YouTube.

  • 144p: No bitrate data provided by YouTube.
  • 240p: Roughly 225MB per hour
  • 360p: Roughly 315MB per hour
  • 480p: Roughly 562.5MB per hour
  • 720p at 30FPS: Roughly 1237.5MB (1.24GB) per hour
  • 720p at 60FPS: Roughly 1856.25MB (1.86GB) per hour
  • 1080p at 30FPS: Roughly 2.03GB per hour
  • 1080p at 60FPS: Roughly 3.04GB per hour
  • 1440p (2K) at 30FPS: Roughly 4.28GB per hour
  • 1440p (2K) at 60FPS: Roughly 6.08GB per hour
  • 2160p (4K) at 30FPS: Roughly 10.58GB per hour
  • 2160p (4K) at 60FPS: Roughly 15.98GB per hour

480p is considered standard definition (and for good reasons). YouTube offers 480p by default to most users. 1080p is full HD, which is quite common or popular on YouTube as the preferred streaming quality choice – if the uploaders made the video available and if the users’ internet connection can keep up with the streaming demands.

How to reduce internet data usage while watching YouTube videos

You can go through these tips and perform the appropriate tasks to cut down on the data being spent on YouTube:

  1. Lower the video quality:

Here, we want you to choose lower quality options (than before) for the videos you stream on YouTube. We already established that (on average) users spend around 3.03GB every hour when they stream videos in Full HD (1080p), while the streaming of videos in Standard Definition (480p) sets them back 0.56GB in an hour.

Therefore, if you are looking to save as much data as possible while not compromising too much on video quality, then you will do well to stream videos at Standard Definition (SD) and not at Full HD. You will be able to watch more videos (since the SD data consumption rate is roughly 5 times less than the HD rate), or you will get to save more data while watching the same videos.

If you are looking to save as much data as possible and do not care much for video quality, then you can choose 240p or even 144p as the quality option for your videos. In any case, the most important tip you should remember is that you must avoid watching videos in HD – since the data usage rate for this quality option is generally unsustainable if your bandwidth is limited or capped.

Anyway, these are the instructions you must go through to alter the quality option for a video being streamed on YouTube:

  1. Assuming you are currently on the YouTube page for the video you intend to stream (or are already streaming), you have to click on the gear-shaped icon (in the bottom-right corner of the video window).
  2. From the list of options displayed, you have to click on Quality.
  3. Choose a lower quality option.
  4. If you were streaming the video at 1080p, then you can select 480p.
  5. If you were watching the video at 480p already, then you should choose 360p (or even 240p), which is a lower quality option.

In any case, after you select a new quality option for the video, YouTube will take note of the changes you made and apply the new settings.

  1. Disable the Autoplay function:

When the Autoplay function is enabled on YouTube, videos are forced to load up automatically and start playing after the user finishes watching one video. The Autoplay function more or less ensures that something is always being streamed when your computer is on YouTube.

Well, you should do away with the Autoplay function to ensure your data does not end up being used by videos you didn’t seek to play in the first place. You cannot afford videos playing themselves (without your permission) on YouTube.

Go through these steps to disable Autoplay on YouTube:

  • Go to the page for any video on YouTube or try to stream any video on the platform.
  • Look to the top-right corner of the window and then click on the AUTOPLAY toggle (to disable this function).

The blue dot should turn gray.

That will be all. YouTube will no longer play videos automatically (without your permission).

  1. Get a bandwidth saver extension for YouTube:

You can install an extension or add-on to your browser to reduce your data usage on YouTube. Some of the extensions designed for such purposes are known to set the video quality parameter to the lowest options automatically to ensure that YouTube does not consume users’ data while trying to load videos using high quality options.

Other extensions might function by optimizing the frame rate, cutting down on the ads that users have to watch on YouTube, and performing other tasks that result in PCs using less data than before when videos are being streamed on YouTube. You are likely to find an extension that suits your needs or one that will help you achieve your goals.

If you use Google Chrome, for example, then you can check the Chrome web store for extensions that help to reduce YouTube data usage. Or you can even search for bandwidth saver extensions in general.

  1. Get YouTube Premium; download your videos preemptively:

YouTube does not allow users to download videos normally from its streaming service. If you subscribe to YouTube Premium, however, you will be afforded full rights to save and download any video from the platform. The subscription service will set you back some money, though.

Nevertheless, you might end up saving a significant amount of data and money by paying for YouTube premium. For example, if you have access to unlimited internet bandwidth at home, school, or work, then you can easily download several videos that you intend to watch.

This way, you avoid spending the data on your limited internet plan to stream – since the needed videos already exist as saved files on your computer. At a convenient time or venue, you then get to watch the videos.

If you cannot afford YouTube premium or simply do not want to pay for the subscription, then you have to seek other ways, procedures, or services through which you get to download YouTube videos. If you are skilled, then you can write a script that allows you to save and download videos being streamed from a page on your web browser.

Otherwise or alternatively, you can search for and install an extension that helps users to fetch YouTube videos from their respective pages. If you cannot find an extension or add-on that allows you to rip videos directly from YouTube, then you will do well to get an application that records stuff on your screen.

With a screen-recording app, you can set a video to play (while you are on the unlimited public, home, school, or work WIFI) and then record your screen. The file resulting from the recording will be saved. You will then be able to play it using the appropriate video player.

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There are numerous options or utilities you can take advantage of to save videos for later viewing. You do not always have to stream videos using your limited bandwidth.

TIP:

If you are looking to keep data consumption on your PC as low as possible, then you cannot have unknown, hidden, or malicious applications or scripts using up your bandwidth (without your knowledge). To this end, you will do well to install Auslogics Anti-Malware and use the functions provided by this security program to check your computer for threats or harmful items.

The recommended application is likely to introduce new scan functions, so the chances of your computer detecting malicious programs become higher than before. The app will also infuse your system’s defense with additional protective layers, which should translate to an improvement in security on your PC.

Fed up with your slow PC? Tired of waiting for Windows to start up? Take a look at the most common reasons behind poor performance and the best ways to deal with them here.

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