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How to Optimize Netflix Data Usage

Originally founded in 1997, Netflix has exploded in popularity as of late. The widespread availability of high-speed Internet was a major factor in pushing the streaming video service across the world, and new members are signing up every single day.

However, with some viewers known for binge-watching entire seasons of their favorite shows, data usage can easily get out of hand. While Netflix does have some built-in features to let their users better manage data, many users are unaware of their options.

The Numbers

According to Netflix, the average viewer consumes roughly 1 GB of data for every hour of streaming video – and that's just in standard definition. If you are streaming in high-definition, which many users do, you could be consuming as much as 3 GB per hour of programming.

When you extrapolate these numbers across four, eight, or even more hours per day, and multiply that by the number of users around the worldwide, you can begin to get an idea of how much data is actually being consumed.

But you do have some control over this. Once logged into your Netflix account, choose the appropriate profile and, under your profile icon, click on the "Account" tab. You'll find a section called "My profile," in there, and eventually you'll come across "Playback settings." Click that option to adjust how much data you're consuming on an hourly basis. Note that any adjustments here will affect the overall video quality of your Netflix streams.

Smart Downloads

Netflix offers another way to control data usage, but this one is relatively new. Known as Smart Downloads, this feature actually gives users the option of downloading movies and television shows directly to their favorite streaming device. Depending on the device you use, however, this could easily take up all of your available storage space.

Luckily, Smart Downloads is setup to automatically delete each episode after it's been watched. It will then immediately begin downloading the next episode; provided there is enough available storage space.

For users who often take their streaming device on-the-go, or for those who don't have 24/7 access to a dependable Internet connection, Netflix's new Smart Downloads feature is exactly what they've been hoping for. With it, they can simply download their favorite movies and shows whenever they do have access to a high-speed Internet connection and save them for later viewing.

Although the Smart Downloads feature doesn't have any adjustable parameters itself, you can choose to disable the feature if you'd prefer. This is best for users who aren't worried about downloading movies or TV shows and for those who would prefer to simply stream their video through the traditional means.

To disable or Smart Downloads, or to enable it after it's been disabled, simply login to Netflix, choose the appropriate profile and click on the "Account" tab. From here, navigate to the Smart Downloads option with the "Settings" section.

For more information on Netflix, or to sign up for an account today, please head over to their official website at


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