The amount of data we consume is constantly going up. It can be hard to tell how much data you actually need with various providers, plans, and “unlimited” options (that seem to always be limited somehow…). So, how much data is used to browse the internet?
Generally speaking, basic web browsing uses around 60 MB/hour. However, sites that include images, videos, and audio will use up more data. Streaming videos in standard quality uses anywhere from 300MB to 450MB per hour. The average household uses around 273 GB of data per month.
273 GB of data per month may seem like an excessive amount. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to data usage. So, should you go with an unlimited plan or opt for a data cap? Here’s what you need to know about internet data usage.
The amount of data you use while browsing the internet depends on the sites you’re visiting. If you’re doing basic web searching, browsing news sites, or shopping online, you’ll only be using about 60 MB/hour, or around 0.06 GB/Hour.
However, sites that include images, videos, and audio will use more data. Let’s look at some of the specific online habits you may have and how they impact your data use. And before we get too far, remember if you want to download videos when you’re on public wifi you can do that to save data. Or you can opt for a cheap flash drive like this one (on Amazon) to load up on video content when you have a free access point.
The amount of data you use while viewing videos will depend on the video quality and the time you spend watching.
Generally speaking, watching YouTube videos and Netflix shows at the standard streaming quality (480p) will use roughly 300MB to 450MB per hour.
Another way you can determine the amount of data you’re using is by estimating the time you spend streaming videos. For example, if you spend 30 hours a week streaming videos in standard resolution, you’ll use about 85 GB per month.
Generally speaking, an average household that is familiar with the internet and frequently surfs the web uses around 273 GB/Month. Studies have shown that the number goes up if the household does not subscribe to TV providers or networks.
Homes and families without these subscriptions are averaging around 395 GB/Month.
If you’re a single internet user, it can be challenging to identify how much data you need. The number depends on your browsing habits, location, internet provider, and more.
Globally speaking, a single internet user browsing primarily with a smartphone uses an average of 11.4 GB per month. For North Americans, this number rises to an average of 14.6 GB per month. Western Europeans use a bit more data, coming in at 15.2 GB per month.
A 10 GB data plan is enough for single households and light internet usage. These types of plans are ideal for sending emails, keeping in touch with loved ones, general web browsing, and light streaming. Here’s a rough estimate of what you can expect with a 10 GB plan:
- 500 Hours of web browsing
- 64 Hours streaming music
- 32 Hours of Skype
- 5,000 Emails
- 80 App downloads
- 10 SD movie downloads
In 2021, the average American and Western European used anywhere from 11 GB to 15 GB of data per month. If you’re concerned a 10 GB plan won’t cover your monthly internet usage, you should opt for a larger data plan.
A 25 GB data plan should be enough for frequent internet usage. With these plans, you won’t have to worry about consuming too much data or your internet usage. A 25 GB plan allows you to watch YouTube, binge Netflix shows, and browse the web without concern.
Here’s what you can expect with a 25 GB plan:
- 1250 Hours of web browsing
- 160 Hours streaming music
- 80 Hours of Skype
- 10,000 Emails
- 200 App downloads
- 25 SD movie downloads
If you’re a frequent internet user or you don’t want to be concerned with how much data you’re using, you may be considering an unlimited data plan. However, this may not be necessary for every consumer and household.
Light internet users typically don’t need an unlimited data plan. Most data plans provide unlimited talk and text regardless of the data allotment if you’re concerned about unlimited talk and text.
Unlimited data plans can also be quite expensive. You probably won’t benefit from a $100 monthly plan if you’re a single household.
Lastly, the typical internet user will consume around 11.4 GB of data once WiFi is factored in. If you’re frequently connected to WiFi or use less than this amount, you probably won’t benefit from unlimited data.
Although the average consumer doesn’t need an unlimited data plan, this doesn’t mean these services are useless. Unlimited data plans can be an excellent option for many individuals.
If you don’t have a stable WiFi connection at home, you can use an unlimited data plan as an alternative. If you live in a rural area without a proper internet provider, you should highly consider an unlimited data plan.
If you travel frequently, you may also benefit from these types of services. An unlimited data plan will enable you to use the internet while using public transport, staying in a hotel, or anywhere else where there isn’t WiFi.