Don’t pay too much for overused data. It’s like the story of Goldilocks and Three Bears – find a plan with more data and you’re paying more, but choose one with very little data, and you can avoid being slapped with a high fee. The goal? Find the right internet data plan.
Therefore, knowing how much data is calling for certain activities and how much you are using can help you sign up for the right data.
How to know how much internet you are using
Some operations require more data usage than others. One minute of web surfing, for example, uses 250 kilobytes (KB) of data per hour, or 15 megabytes (MB). AT&T, Verizon Wireless and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide handy maps and calculator tools to help you take care of other common Internet activities and find out how much data they need. Come on.
This chart illustrates some common activities and how much data they need:
Size of operational data
Sending email with attachment 20 KB
Gaming Online (1 minute) 200 KB (12 MB / hr)
Web Surfing (1 minute) 250 KB (15 MB / hr)
Sending email with standard attachment 300 KB
Music Download (1 song) 4 MB
Social Media Photo Upload (1 photo) 5 MB
Streaming Standard-Definition Video 11.7 MB (700 MB / hr)
High definition video streaming 41.7 MB (2500 MB / hr)
Streaming 4K Video 97.5 MB (5850 MB / hr)
Most brands, such as AT&T, which offer 1TB internet, offer the possibility to add unlimited data on selected plans for a monthly fee, while others, like Spectrum, do not have data caps.
Not sure if your ISP has a data cap? Here is an easy list of the top ISPs, their data cap limits and the associated monthly costs. When in doubt, call your ISP and ask.
Why are you walking around in your data limit?
If you text, email, and generally surf the web, you’ll be fine. But if you hog some data and watch YouTube videos (even for background music) and enable the “auto-play” video function for your social media channels, you’ll end up with a lot of data.
For example, heavy Facebook and Instagram users can take photos by several GB per week. HD video calling and music downloading consume a lot of data.
Streaming video is your biggest culprit, especially during cord cutting and sophisticated 4K displays. Broadcasting in 4K? Consider cutting back to the 1080p display type.
According to a Consumer Reports expert, Netflix uses an average of 90 minutes of video and 1.6GB of data per hour (2.4GB for 90 minutes of video). Therefore, he predicted that in one month, you would have to stream 416 Netflix videos for 90 minutes to hit a 1TB data cap. Most people in your household are using data, however, you are rapidly reaching 1TB.
Indirect data is used in the background during tasks that your device does automatically. Beware of background refreshes and updates, all of which you can watch without and use a lot of data. Wait until you can securely log into your Wi-Fi account before a major update or update. In your phone settings, make sure all your apps are refreshed manually. That should help too.
Most routers also offer network management settings, which allow you to monitor your device usage. AT&T, Verizon and Spectrum login portals allow you to manage your Internet data usage.