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Should You Be Concerned about Going Over 1 TB of Data?

We’ve researched how your Spotify or Netflix use could lead to a bigger internet bill.

Whether you’re taking Zoom calls or waiting for the kids to finish up a Minecraft session, we’re all spending more time online these days. But internet service provider (ISP) data caps can throw a wrench into your browsing habits.

Data plan caps are a usage limit that ISPs commonly place on home subscribers. If you break this cap, which is usually 1 TB but can vary by ISP, your download speeds will be slowed down or you’ll be hit with overage fees that could cost up to $200.

Here’s what you need to know about 1 TB home internet data caps and whether you should start cutting back on those TV show marathons.

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How much is a terabyte?

Data storage has come a long way since the days of 1.44 MB floppy disks. Terabyte storage (a terabyte equals 1,024 GB) is commonly found on laptops, desktop computers, and gaming consoles.

Here’s approximately how many files you’d need to fill up a terabyte hard drive:

  • 30 4K Blu-ray movies
  • 8,000 music albums
  • 250,000 photos
  • Six copies of the video game Red Dead Redemption 2
  • 20,000,000 emails

Data storage measurements

Measurement Equivalent size
kilobyte (KB) 1,024 bytes
megabyte (MB) 1,024 KB
gigabyte (GB) 1,024 MB
terabyte (TB) 1,024 GB
petabyte (PB) 1,024 TB
exabyte (EB) 1,024 PB
zettabyte (ZB) 1,024 EB
yottabyte (YB) 1,024 ZB

How long does 1 TB of data last?

Internet provider data caps are reset every month, so you don’t have to worry about stretching 1 TB of data across multiple billing cycles.

Will I go over a terabyte of data?

Whenever you have a device online, it’s using data that counts against your ISP’s cap. If you’re the only person using your internet, you likely won’t have to worry about breaking 1 TB of monthly data.

For example, music and video streaming are big data hogs, but you’d have to be marathoning hundreds to thousands of shows and albums every day to come close to the 1 TB mark.

In the unlikely case you’re regularly exceeding 1 TB of monthly data by yourself, consider backing up files like TV shows or movies by transferring them onto an external USB hard drive. This way, you can watch them any time without having to use data from a streaming video service.

How much data does the average person use per month?

Individual data usage varies widely, but Spectrum and Xfinity have estimated that households typically use between 368 GB and 700 GB of data per month. As fiber internet continues rolling out nationwide and streaming 4K video becomes more popular, though, average internet data usage is widely expected to increase in the future.

Is it easy to go over 1 TB of data?

Tasks like browsing Facebook, pulling photos off cloud storage, or checking emails are a drop in the bucket for monthly data usage, but if you’re doing something like marathoning Marvel movies in 4K, that’ll require more data.

To show how data usage works, let’s use Netflix as an example.

  • Streaming an hour of 4K video on Netflix takes up to 7 GB.
  • If you watch four hour-long TV episodes a week and two movies per month in 4K, you’ll use around 133 GB.
  • This would take up nearly 13% of a monthly 1 TB data cap.

When multiple people in your home are taking Zoom calls, downloading gigabytes worth of PC games, or watching TV shows and movies every day, it’s easier to blow past 1 TB of data than you’d expect. Most ISPs will let you track your monthly data usage and send regular emails when you come close to using a terabyte of data.

Is 1 TB of data enough?

Most users will be fine with 1 TB of monthly data. But if you have kids, family members, or roommates who use your internet for Netflix streaming sessions, keep an eye on your monthly usage. If you’re regularly breaking that terabyte marker, it might be time to find an ISP with flexible data cap policies.

Check out our ISP data cap guide to learn more about ISPs with unlimited data or data caps larger than 1 TB.

Tired of ISP data caps?

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Final take

A terabyte of storage covers a lot of content, but between running video calls, doing cloud hard-drive backups, or watching new streaming video services that pop up every week, it doesn’t go as far as it used to.

If your internet use is mostly Instagram browsing and watching a few Hulu shows after work, you won’t have to worry about breaking the 1 TB mark. But if your home network sees high demand from the kids or roommates, regularly check your ISP’s data monitoring to prevent overage charges and avoid speed throttling.

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