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What can you do with one GB of data?

one GB

Do more with data and understand what one GB really gets you

At this point, we’re all used to walking around with supercomputers in our pockets and zettabytes of information at our fingertips.

If you’re with a pay for what you use provider like, oh, I don’t know, let’s say Ting for argument’s sake, it pays to understand and keep an eye on your data usage. With Ting, you can monitor your data use and even set alerts and caps so you never have to worry about going over whatever threshold you decide.

Here are the basics: The things you need to know to quantify what 1 GB actually is in real-world terms.

What’s in a GB?

We’ll break down the GB math in a minute. First though, what can you do with 1 GB?

Video uses more data than audio which uses more data than still images which uses more data than text. It’s a bit difficult to package up but broad strokes, here’s about what a gig gets you:

  • 1 hour of Netflix at high resolution (2)
  • 5 hours of video chat (3)
  • 24 hours of streaming music at 96 Kbps (4)
  • >400 mixed media web pages (5)
  • 10 hours* of Facebook (6)
  • 300 photos uploaded to social media
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    * Assuming you haven’t already taken important steps like turning off autoplay video in Facebook, which you should. Find out how for your iOS and Android.

    One GB by the numbers

    The Internet is a mixed bag of content but it’s all comprised of 1s and 0s. Binary. To oversimplify a bit, how many 1s and 0s make up a thing is how much data you’re using to get that thing on your screen (download) or send that thing to a friend (upload)

    Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. If you’re familiar with the metric system and its rounded, neatly ordered progression from millimeters to centimeters, meters, kilometers and so on, then you’re well on your way to understanding the gigabyte.

    The bit is the first rung of the data size ladder, and the next step up is a byte, which is eight bits. After that, each step up is roughly 1,000 of the units on the step below, creating the measurement system we all know and love.

    Note that after the byte, each measurement is actually precisely 1,024 of the units below it (and yes, 1 GB on Ting is actually 1024 MB). We talk in terms of 1,000s to keep the math simple.

    The ladder

  • Bit: A single 1 or 0
  • Byte: 8 bits
  • Kilobyte (KB): Roughly 1,000 bytes, equivalent to about one paragraph of plain text
  • Megabyte (MB): Roughly 1,000 KB, or one image
  • Gigabyte (GB): Roughly 1,000 MB, or one hour of video
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    one GB

    How to do more with less data

    It’s important to note that a lot of mobile data use can quite easily be moved to Wi-Fi, where you don’t pay by the GB. You can download Netflix videos so you’re not using data when away from Wi-Fi, for example.

    You can download Spotify music so you can listen offline. There’s no end to the kind of deep data saving tricks you can employ to avoid overpaying for cell phone service.

    Now that you understand the numbers behind your data, go forth, surf smartly and save a buck.


    1- How do I manage mobile data usage on Netflix?
    2- How Much Internet Does Skype Use – Bandwidth and Data Usage 
    3- Spotify Community: Data Usage
    4- Mobile broadband usage guide: what can you get for your gigabyte?
    5- Do you know how much mobile data Facebook consumes?

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