How to save data when watching Netflix

By Staff writer | 09 Mar 2019 at 07:39hrs
Netflix and Showmax are dependent on an Internet connection to work, which is great if you have an uncapped fibre line and Wi-Fi access, but not so much if you are stuck with 2GB of LTE data for the month.

This doesn't mean you can't watch your favourite shows however, it simply means you will need to be smart about how you use your data.

We have listed the ways you can conserve data while enjoying Netflix and Showmax below.

Android and iOS apps

Netflix and Showmax are both available on iOS and Android, and these applications offer useful features which can make your data go further.

Most importantly, each app has its own data saving features which you can enable.

Netflix has a Cellular Data Usage setting which automatically detects when you are streaming over a cellular network and adjusts playback accordingly to conserve bandwidth.

Setting this to "Save Data" will ensure that you are streaming while using the least amount of data possible when on a cellular network while letting you watch uninhibited when connected to Wi-Fi.

Showmax has its own data-saving feature named Bandwidth Capping which allows viewers to manually throttle the amount of data used per hour when streaming.

This is accomplished by lowering the resolution of the stream to 360p if the "Low" option is selected or 480p if the "Medium" option is selected.

The resolution is not reduced if these settings are not enabled.

Users should manually change these settings if they want to stream Showmax over a mobile connection, as Bandwidth Capping is not enabled by default.
Downloads and resolution

The data-saving measures mentioned above reduce resolution to decrease data usage, but this also results in a lower-quality picture.

This is not important when you are watching on a small smartphone screen, but it can greatly affect the viewing experience on a bigger display like a TV or computer monitor.

However, there are ways you can reduce data consumption while viewing on these devices too.

The most obvious solution is to download your favourite shows over Wi-Fi beforehand to watch later, and this feature is offered by both the Netflix and Showmax apps across multiple platforms.

If you are forced to watch on a mobile data connection, you can change the resolution of your stream by accessing the Playback Settings page in the Netflix account menu, or by changing the Bandwidth Capping option in the active stream settings while watching a show on Showmax.

TV apps also have dedicated settings pages which allow you to change these options, although how these are accessed may change depending on device.

Additionally, if you would like to watch Netflix at 1080p resolution but save as much data as possible, you could try using Microsoft's Edge browser for Windows 10.

This browser is the only one which supports the HEVC codec, which is a coding format designed to be extremely lightweight and takes up less space than previous technologies.

If you find that Netflix on your PC is using too much data, but have a different browser, you can download the HEVC extension for Windows 10 - priced at R17 from the Microsoft Store.



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