Internet data usage

ByDuncan Heaney
Internet data usage

Ever asked yourself, 'how much data am I using?' And do you know how much data you'll use streaming movies, TV or music? What about normal web browsing? Find out in our handy guide...

Video: Data management

Data usage: The basics explained

Everything you do on the internet uses a certain amount of data, which, unless you've got unlimited broadband, will be taken from your monthly data allowance.

While some things, like normal web browsing and email, only consume small amounts of data, there are others, such as watching YouTube videos and streaming catch-up TV, that can guzzle a month's worth of data in just a few hours.

If you do lots of downloading - or stream loads of films, TV programmes and video clips online - or live with several other people who all use the internet a lot, you may find that broadband with a data allowance ain't enough.

Unlimited broadband packages have no monthly data allowance and let you pretty much use all the data you want (within reasonable limits - see traffic management) and are generally the best option for multi-user households.

Learn more about unlimited broadband

How much internet data are you using?

This handy table shows how much data some standard online activities use. Bear in mind that the figures are only rough estimates - your actual usage is likely be around these amounts, but could be more or less depending on a number of factors.

Activity

Data consumption

One hour of web browsing

10 - 25MB

Download a document

2MB

One hour of Facebook

20MB

Download a music track

4MB

Stream 30 minutes of YouTube

175MB

Download a non-HD film

700MB

Download an HD film

4GB

Stream one hour of non-HD video

250MB

Stream one hour of HD video

2GB

Stream one hour of music or radio

150MB

(Information taken from a number of providers, including BTVirgin Media, and Vodafone)

Tips to avoid going over your data allowance

Watch the video above to see how you can manage your data allowance from month to month and avoid exceeding your limit, which can result in extra charges.

Should you get unlimited broadband?

If you're looking for a broadband package, or trying to find cheap internet so you can save a few pounds off your monthly bill, consider how much data you expect to use a month and choose a package that complements your lifestyle. As well as considering what speed you need, look at the download limits too.

For example, if you watch a lot of films, download a lot of movies, play games online, and listen to music throughout the day, then you may wish to consider an unlimited package, which doesn't place a set limit on how much you download.

Conversely, if you don't use much data at all, then a broadband package with capped usage may be a better choice, as these are often cheaper than unlimited contracts.

Whichever you feel is most appropriate for you, remember to compare providers to ensure you get the best package for your particular needs, and for the best price.

Which providers offer unlimited broadband?

Most major providers, including BT (www.bt.com), Sky (www.sky.com), Virgin Media, (www.virginmedia.com), TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk), and Plusnet (www.plus.net) offer broadband packages with unlimited downloads. But remember - some are still subject to fair usage policies and/or traffic management.

Compare unlimited broadband deals

Plusnet
Sky
Post Office
Unlimited Broadband Broadband Unlimited Broadband Premium + Weekend Calls
Monthly cost Free (for 18 months, then £9.99 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £6.99 Monthly cost Free (for 12 months, then £10.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £9.95 Monthly cost £3.00 (for 18 months, then £10.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £42.95
Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb
Pay as you go Pay as you go Weekend calls inc.
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Call Plusnet on 0808 178 5954
Mon to Fri 8am-8pmSat 9am-7pmSun 9am-6pm
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Call Sky on 0800 151 2878
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
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