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Where'd my data go? A data guide to common internet activities

Where'd my data go? A data guide to common internet activities

15 May 2017


amaysim's tech geek

It’s a tale as old as time… Well, a tale as old as the internet.

You sign up for a data plan thinking sure, that’ll be plenty of gigabytes for lil’ ol’ me. But not too long after that, your data’s all gone and your cute-kitten-video-watching spree has come to an abrupt halt.

We’ve all been there. So why does this song as old as rhyme keep playing on repeat?

lots of Aussies don't 'get' data usage

When we choose a plan that doesn’t cover our internet usage needs, it’s usually because we underestimate or don’t understand how much data is involved in the regular things we do online (email, online games, search, social media, reading blogs, all that jazz).

In fact, 43% of Aussies don't know how much data they use every month - gasp!

Data limits are the third most confusing factor for people trying to choose an nbn plan and provider, right behind figuring out the best deal available and struggling to understand the broadband speeds.

Heck, 15% of us don't even know what our monthly data limit is.

looking for the perfect SIM plan to power your data obsession?

so how much data do your favourite activities use?

Let's break the internet down into seven common internet activities.


Emails themselves barely use any download data. Opening that email called “FW: Forward this for good luck!” is definitely a waste of time, but at least it won’t tip your data usage over the edge.

Downloading large attachments from emails is obviously a different story.

Social media

Half an hour of scrolling your favourite social network (LinkedIn? Just kidding, we know it’s Facebook) will use about 60MB of data. If you surf your newsfeed for 30 minutes every day, this means you could be using as much as 2GB per month on social media alone.

Surfing the web

General website browsing (e.g. online shopping and reading blogs) is fairly light on the data front. You’ll generally use about 2.5MB per minute.

Online games

Now we’re talking serious data usage. Maybe. It all depends on the particular game you’re playing.

Some titles can drain almost 1MB per minute of gameplay, which can quickly add up if you’re addicted to The Witcher 3 and spend every night exploring the Northern Kingdoms.

Watch out for game installations and updates though as they really take a bite out of your data apple – these can often require several gigabytes to download.

Streaming music

Getting your daily Adele fix on Spotify or another streaming platform will use up between 40MB and 70MB, depending on your playback quality settings.

That’s for just 1 hour of streaming, though. If you keep those glorious, heartbreaking ballads on repeat for a whole day (24 hours), that’ll be at least 1GB of data rolling in the deep.

Streaming TV shows and movies

Here’s the big one. If you’re viewing in Standard Definition, you’ll be using about 700MB for every hour of Breaking Bad that you binge. HD will be closer to 3GB every hour. If you’re on a capped data plan, we’d suggest less Netflix and more chill.


Simple voice calls use less than half a megabyte per minute, so you should be fine.

Video calls are a different story, though. These will use up data similarly to streaming video or watching YouTube (about 8MB per minute).