How Much Can I Do Online With a 5 Gigabyte Limit?

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Some internet service providers and cellphone companies limit how much bandwidth you may use per month. A limit of 5 gigabytes isn't a lot, but you can still use this level of data plan to access the internet, check your email and download some apps. If you can, use Wi-Fi on an unlimited plan to maximize your monthly throughput. Make sure you understand your plan and whether some uses, like video and music, are exempt from the 5gb data cap.


Understanding Data Caps

Some internet service providers allow you to use as much bandwidth for data transmission as you wish, while others set monthly caps on how much data you can transfer.

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Once those limits are set, some companies will charge you extra to upload or download more data, while others will simply cut off your access or slow down your data transfers. Some will simply warn you when you hit a data cap, such as 5gb of internet downloads, without actually interfering with your internet access or charging you more.


Make sure you understand the data plans you have from your cellphone company, cable or DSL provider and any other internet providers you may work with.

Understanding a 5-Gigabytes Limit

If you're limited to 5 gigabytes of data transfer per month, that might put a hamper on some activities.


If you want to download a high-resolution movie, you might be out of luck: a typical Blu-ray disc takes up 25 gigabytes of storage space, while a DVD uses about 4.7 gigabytes, nearly your month's capacity. When it comes to music, most popular streaming apps use between 100 and 200 megabytes of data per hour, meaning something between 25 and 50 hours of streaming music would be allowed on a 5-gigabyte data limit.


Websites, social media sites and other apps vary widely in how much bandwidth they use.

Conserving Bandwidth on Limited Plans

If you have a 5-gigabyte data plan or some other arrangement with limited bandwidth, you may want to limit your data usage.


Consider using the lowest resolution graphics and sound available in music, gaming and video apps. When it comes to Web browsers such as Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, look for ways to limit how much your browser downloads. Activating ad-blocking features and installing apps and extensions to curb how many ads and trackers your browser fetches can help, as can configuring social and other media apps not to automatically play audio or video.


Know Your Data Limit

Some ISPs and cellphone companies let you download certain types of media without it being counted toward your monthly data cap. Some let you stream audio and video from popular services, and many allow you to access your bill or other company information without a charge.


Make sure you understand such limitations and how to take advantage of them. Check your ISP's website, app or telephone help desk to verify data is being measured the way you expect. Some offer a data calculator service to let you see exactly how much you're using and how you're consuming it.