How to Reduce Zoom Data Use

Tyler Abbott
Staff Writer, Mobile & Wireless
Read More
Published on January 25, 2022
3 min read

Zoom can be a real data hog, and it only makes things worse when you share Wi-Fi with multiple people. If you want to optimize your Zoom speeds, you can upgrade your internet plan, beg your kids (or roommates) to not stream Paw Patrol while you're on a Zoom meeting, or try these three tips:

  1. Turn your video off
  2. Don't use HD video settings
  3. Avoid screen sharing for too long

Obviously, option number three is the easiest solution, so let’s try and figure that one out.

Stuck with satellite internet data caps?
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We feel you. Check out our guides on how to monitor your satellite internet data usage, plus how to add data to HughesNet and how to get more Viasat data.

Need to skip ahead and find new internet? Look for plans in your area.

How much data does Zoom use?

Real quick, let’s get an idea of how much data you burn while using Zoom. Before we drop a ton of internet jargon on you in the tables below, feel free to familiarize yourself with our internet speeds guide.

Zoom data usage for a 1:1 meeting
Quality
Download
Upload
Total

High

270 MB/hr.

270 MB/hr.

540 MB/hr.

720p

540 MB/hr.

540 MB/hr.

1.08 GB/hr.

1080p

810 MB/hr.

810 MB/hr.

1.62 GB/hr.

For a 1:1 Zoom meeting, you spend somewhere between 540 MB and 1.62 GB per hour, or somewhere between 9 MB and 27 MB per minute, depending upon the streaming quality.

Zoom data usage for a group call
Quality
Download
Upload
Total

High

450 MB/hr.

360 MB/hr.

810 MB/hr.

720p

675 MB/hr.

675 MB/hr.

1.35 GB/hr.

1080p

1.2 GB/hr.

1.2 GB/hr.

2.4 GB/hr.

The more people you have in a Zoom call, the more data you’ll use up to run the meeting. Your data usage jumps up to somewhere between 810 MB and 2.4 GB per hour, or somewhere between 13.5 MB and 40 MB per minute.

What’s the difference between download and upload speeds?
Light Bulb

Zoom uses your internet download speeds to stream what you see on a conference call, and uses upload speed to broadcast your stream to other people on the conference call.

Okay, so we just talked a lot about MBs and GBs, but let’s give some context as to what those data measurements really mean for you.

Data usage for common activities
4K video streaming
Amount of data used

4K video streaming

5.85 GB/hr.

HD video streaming

2.5 GB/hr.

SD video streaming

0.7 GB/hr.

Audio streaming

72 MB/hr.

Uploading one image to social media

5 MB/photo

Sending emails (without attachment)

20 KB/email

Sending emails (with standard attachment)

300 KB/email

Online gaming

12 MB/hr.

Viewing a web page

1 MB/pg.

Based on AT&T data calculator estimates. Amounts may vary.

Now that we’ve got context for how much data Zoom uses, let’s try to dramatically lower your Zoom data usage.

1. Leave video off when you don’t need it

The bulk of your internet upload speeds are dedicated to streaming your video to other folks on the conference call. If you turn off your video feed, then your Zoom data usage drops by at least 30% by our estimation. Plus, with your video feed off, you can do Zoom meetings in your pajamas completely guilt free!

How do I turn off my Zoom video?

Before you join a meeting, you should get a prompt asking you whether or not you want to turn on your video. It will look like this:

Join Zoom Without Video

You can click Join without Video and your video feed will be turned off at the get-go of the meeting.

If you already have started your camera in the meeting, but want to turn it off to conserve some of your data, you can just click the Stop Video button on the bottom right corner. It looks like this:

How to Stop Video on Zoom

2. Turn off HD video

Reducing your streaming quality can reduce the Zoom data you use by more than 60%. Besides, do you really need everyone's faces on a  Zoom call in full high-definition? Personally, I would prefer people see me in a lower definition.

How to turn off HD video

First navigate to your Zoom settings. On the desktop Zoom client, you can find the gear icon for settings in the top right corner when you first open the app.

Once you get to Settings, click the Video tab on the left-hand side, and untoggle the box that says Enable HD. You can also apparently touch up your appearance here, too, but I can’t really tell if it’s helping.

Zoom Video Settings

By clicking on that box, the amount of data your Zoom requires should drop dramatically.

3. Don’t screen share longer than necessary

Screen sharing takes up more data than just broadcasting a live video. If you want to pinch pennies with data, show what you need to show with your screen sharing, and then hop back to your normal camera.

Collaborative docs save more data than screen sharing.
Info Box

You can always use a collaborative document (like a Google Doc) instead of screen sharing. People on the shared doc can see what everyone else contributes to the doc in real time.

Are your Zoom calls always glitchy?

If your Zoom calls look as fuzzy as 1980s basketball used to look on TV, then it might be time to consider upgrading your internet—preferably to a provider that offers unlimited data. If you have options, we recommend Xfinity or Verizon Fios Home Internet as two of the best ISPs out there right now.

Xfinity Internet
Xfinity Internet
Best Internet Provider
Download speeds
501200 Mbps
Upload speeds
535 Mbps
Starting from
$19.99
/mo
Data effective 01/13/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Data effective 12/02/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.

Verizon Fios Home Internet
Verizon Fios Home Internet
Best Fiber Internet Provider
Download speeds
200940 Mbps
Upload speeds
200880 Mbps
Starting from
$39.99
/mo
Data effective 11/10/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Data effective 12/02/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*w/Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.

There always might be an internet service provider in your area that can give you better internet speeds for a better price. Enter your ZIP code below to see the best internet providers.

Now that you know how to reduce your data speeds on Zoom, here are your next steps:

Check out Zoom alternatives that can help you reduce data usage.

Find out how Zoom ranks compared to other video conference apps.

Tyler Abbott
Written by
Tyler Abbott
Tyler has been obsessed with watching sports as efficiently as possible since the creation of the DVR. He is always on the lookout for the best tech in TV and wireless so he can watch all the sports and still have enough time to hang out with his baby. He has written about streaming, wireless, and TV for over three years. He hopes the Lakers will eventually get better.

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  • JoAnne Mbonigaba

    Thanks for this Tyler! So relevant now that so many of us are using zoom in this time of pandemic!