How to Stay Under Your Data Cap When You Cut the Cord





Image of a internet cable being cut.

Cutting the cord can be a great way to save money but many cable companies try to scare new cord cutters with data caps. These artificial caps on how much data you can use before you are charged extra can be intimidating to new cord cutters. The good news is you don’t need to worry: There are many options to help you stay under a data cap.

Here are 5 tips on how to stay under your data cap.

#1 Turn Off Auto Play

Auto Play is a great feature to just kick back, clean the house, and have the TV play your favorite show; however, it can also burn through data. Many streaming players, such as Roku and the Fire TV, will keep playing even if you do not have the TV turned on.

Netflix will play three episodes and Amazon Video will play six episodes before asking if you are still watching. If you fall asleep during the first episode, you could easily burn through an hour of data with Netflix or five hours of data with Amazon Video. With HD video consuming anywhere from 3 to 5 GB an hour that could easily burn 25GB of data.

If you fall asleep just four times a month as you stream, that is 100GB of data wasted, so make sure to turn off Auto Play for all your streaming services.

#2 Antenna

If you can get your locals with an antenna, that is the best way to stay under your data cap. While your favorite streaming service may offer locals, it can really add up. By watching a few shows a month with an antenna you can save a lot of data.

#3 DVR

If you have an antenna, consider getting a DVR. This will help you build a catalog of content you like that you do not have to stream, possibly saving you hundreds of GB of data every month.

#4 Try SD Video

We often want to get everything in HD, but consider trying SD video. SD streaming uses a fraction of the data of HD—often less than a GB an hour.

When my daughter wants to watch cartoons, we stream them in SD. You will be shocked at how good SD video can look with cartoons. Also, older shows not originally shot in HD can look just fine in SD, saving a ton of data.

Many streaming services let you set the quality of the stream you want. Consider setting devices your kids use to watch cartoons to a lower resolution to save on data.

#5 Download Shows You Rewatch

My daughter is addicted to “Mickey Mouse Club House” right now. Shows like this are a great example of something you can download to save data. You can purchase a season of the show on Amazon and download it to a tablet because the Amazon Video app allows downloading on Android, iOS, and Fire Tablets.

This enables my daughter to rewatch the same episodes without it eating into our data cap. The best part is you still have access to the TV as your kids watch their shows.

Bonus Tip

You may want to shop around for an Internet service that does not have a data cap. For example, if you have AT&T Internet, you may want to look at an ISP like that resells AT&T Internet with no device rental and no data caps.

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