How to Lower Your Home WiFi Data Usage

How to Lower Your Home WiFi Data Usage

Are you a victim of hefty internet bills and wondering how to reduce them to a manageable level? Worry no more; we’re here to offer a solution. Huge WiFi charges mostly result from inefficient data usage, so lowering your home WiFi data usage is the answer to cutting those excessive bills.

To lower your home WiFi data usage, understand what uses the most data within your home and then manage your devices based on their respective usage. Additionally, monitor the streaming of videos and video games, and check on uploads and backups that count against your WiFi data cap.

Read on to get more information on how you can remain under your WiFi data cap while staying free from overage charges.

Understand What Uses More Data

Understand What Uses More Data
Understand What Uses More Data

The first step towards keeping your home WiFi data usage in check is understanding what uses more data and what doesn’t. Given that we live in a digital era, it’s no surprise that you often find ourselves glued to your gadgets. Since most of these devices are internet-driven, how often you use them impacts your home WiFi consumption.

It’s straightforward, scroll through various social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook all day while watching videos. You’ll likely notice a dent in your data package. On the other hand, if you check your emails a few times a day, there’s a less significant impact on your data.

In a nutshell, videos consume the most data, followed by music and then photos. Documents use up the least amount of data. One way to control how many videos you watch is by disabling the auto-play settings whenever watching videos. Only choose the relevant clips you want to watch, one at a time.

Monitor Your Network for Devices Consuming More Data

Having understood what uses more data, the next step is to monitor those devices with high data consumption.

Even after managing your devices to reduce data consumption, it’s normal for machines to misbehave. In some cases, downloads get corrupted, and apps go rogue, among other kinds of mishaps. This unexpected issue with your devices can result in more than usual data consumption.

The best way to avoid this is by regularly monitoring your network. If you’re lucky, your router may come with inbuilt network settings that allow you to monitor individual device’s bandwidth and data usage.

We are also interested in helpful information and you may like the article “What is Sustainability on an Eco-Friendly Smartphone?”

Computers, Smartphones, and Tablets

Computers, Smartphones, and Tablets

You can monitor devices such as computers, phones, and tablets individually in the absence of such a router. However, this approach may not be sufficient, especially with shared WiFi, where different people use different devices.

Generally, most Internet Service Providers (ISP) offer a graphical representation of your day to day data usage. However, this information is not narrowed down to individual devices, making it hard to identify the culprits.

Therefore, we recommend investing in a good router setup that gives you an analysis of data consumption per device. This information will help you pinpoint the devices using most data, allowing you to manage them effectively. 

Control Your Video Streaming

Video Streaming is the number one offender when it comes to using data, whether on your television, smartphone, or computer. Videos have become prevalent today. From streaming movies and tv shows to social media platforms, Netflix, YouTube, and other cable TV services, videos are everywhere. 

With its increasing popularity, video streaming is likely to cause an even more considerable dent in your WiFi package. According to Netflix, streaming video in HD consumes around 3GB of data per hour. A two hour Netflix HD movie s then going to be 6GB of data just by itself.

So, are you doomed to huge internet bills since you can’t do without your captivating video? Not at all. There’s still hope for you! You can now enjoy video streaming without consuming much data by making the following adjustment:

Reducing Your Output Resolution

Reducing Your Output Resolution
Reducing Your Output Resolution

As much as we like high-quality videos, it’s interesting to know that the higher the video’s quality, the higher the data consumption. For example, let’s look at Netflix, one of the popular streaming platforms for TV shows and movies. Netflix offers four data usage packages based on the video’s output resolution:

  • Auto: This package adjusts to produce the best quality videos based on your internet speed.
  • High: This package applies quality videos. The High Definition 1080p (HD) consumes 3 gigabytes every hour per device, while the Ultra HD 4K videos, which are of much higher quality, consume 7 gigabytes every hour per device.
  • Medium: This applies to Standard Definition (SD) videos and consumes 0.7 gigabytes every hour per device.
  • Low: This package consumes 0.3 gigabytes every hour per device to produce low-quality videos (480p).

As you can see, a higher resolution comes with higher data usage. Therefore to avoid using up much data while streaming videos, consider reducing your output resolution.

Although it can be challenging to enjoy lower quality videos when used to quality ones, it can be the best way to reduce your WiFi data usage. For instance, if you’re using the Ultra HD video resolution, you can reduce it to HD or SD.

Research how to reduce the output resolution based on your streaming box, whether Fire TV, Apple TV, or Android TV. If you are streaming from multiple devices, such as laptops, tablets, or phones, you can achieve this more effectively by limiting your data package’s bandwidth.

How to Adjust Your Netflix Data Usage Settings.

Sometimes it isn’t easy to wade through the minutia on the internet to find this information. So we have included two helpful quotes on the direction of how to adjust your data settings below from Netflix for your convenience.

“Data usage settings only apply to the Netflix profile you set them from, meaning you can have different data usage settings for each profile on your account. If you are concerned about the total amount of data that Netflix uses, be sure to repeat the steps below for each profile.

1. From a web browser, go to your Account page.

2. Select a profile name from Profile & Parental Controls.

3. Select Change for Playback settings.

4. Select your desired data usage setting.

NOTE: Restricting data usage may affect video quality. Save changes. Your changes will take effect within 8 hours.”

Adjust Your Netflix Data Usage Settings

How to Adjust Your Netflix Mobile Data Usage Settings

Netflix How to Adjust Your Mobile Data Usage Settings
Netflix How to Adjust Your Mobile Data Usage Settings – App Settings
Netflix How to Adjust Your Mobile Data Usage Settings
Netflix How to Adjust Your Mobile Data Usage Settings – Cellular Data Usage

“Data setting changes you make from your mobile device apply when that device is streaming over mobile networks. To select the setting that works best for your mobile data plan:

1. Open the Netflix app and tap More or Profile.

2. Select App Settings.

3. Under Video Playback, select Cellular Data Usage.

4. Choose your preferred setting.

NOTE: You won’t be able to change this setting if you have pending downloads. If your preferred data setting is grayed out, cancel all pending downloads or wait for them to finish, then try again.”

Adjust Your Mobile Data Usage Settings

Watch Out for Backups and Uploads

Generally, uploads and backups are known to act against your data cap. While they are essential in storing vital information, they end up consuming much data.

Most people lack a dedicated backup service and thus opt to use Google Drive and Dropbox. These services can consume more data, especially if they continuously sync your data. 

If you don’t pay attention when setting up or signing in for these services, you’ll find that they automatically back up any photos, videos, or files on your devices, which consumes a lot of data. It is vital to manage the backup settings to save on your WiFi data.

Plan for Your Video Games

Plan for Your Video Games

Video games are another giant data hog on your WiFi package. You don’t consume much data when playing but rather when downloading games.  If you are a video game fanatic, then you know how brutal downloading a video game can be on your data. Even if you get a physical disc, you’ll still use up many data on updates.

Therefore, to avoid using up much data on video games, you can plan your video game days based on your WiFi package. For example, if the end of your billing cycle is fast approaching and you still have ample data remaining, you can download the latest video games even if you don’t play them on the spot.

Additionally, if you’re traveling or going on a vacation and won’t be using much of your home WiFi, you can utilize it to download your preferred video games.

Security Cameras

Security Cameras are an essential part of today’s world in metropolitan areas for your home or business’s security.

Additionally, security cameras consume a lot of data recording and uploading files. To be on the safer side, you can set the cams to record only when you aren’t at home or when they detect motion (not sound). Additionally, you can reduce their bandwidth settings to lower data consumption.

As you manage your internet use on security and storage devices, be sure not to put yourself at risk by limiting their service so much that they don’t serve their intended purposes.

Check for Off-Peak Hours

Check for Off-Peak Hours
Check for Off-Peak Hours

Some Internet Service Providers offer their clients off-peak hours. These are hours when the data you use doesn’t count against your WiFi data. Off-peak hours vary from one ISP to the other, and you can find more information by visiting their respective website or calling them.

Take advantage of these off-peak hours by utilizing them to your maximum benefit, for example, by downloading video games or updating apps.

We discuss additional data and wifi issues in our articles “How Much Will 5G Data Really Cost You?” and “Can A Phone Case Affect Wifi Reception?”

Secure Your WiFi With a Password

Another way to reduce your home WiFi data usage is by securing it with a password. Securing it means only authorized people will use your home WiFi. If you leave your WiFi unsecured, third parties may use it without your knowledge, increasing your overall data consumption.

Conclusion

Lowering your home WiFi data usage goes a long way in saving you some money and a few gigabytes. You can achieve this by:

  • Understanding what uses more data
  • Monitoring your devices
  • Controlling video streaming
  • Planning for video game days
  • Watching out for uploads, backups, and security cameras
  • Securing your home WiFi with a password

Additional References:

John Mortensen

I am a project manager, tech writer, and science enthusiast who loves to study the latest technology, such as AI, comedy, quantum computers, smartphones, headphones, and software.

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