YouTube downloads and your limit

Could watching YouTube videos be the reason you are exceeding your monthly download limit? The answer is yes, but what can you do about it?

If you are stumped by the word ‘bandwidth’, you are not alone. Don’t be turned off by the jargon, bandwidth simply describes the passage that files use to pass from your Internet Server Provider (ISP) to your PC. Whenever you watch YouTube videos, browse web pages, send emails or upload to Facebook, data is transferred between your computer and the internet via the bandwidth.

Even though you may not be saving or downloading those files to your computer, you are basically temporarily downloading the videos you are watching. It also makes a difference what time of the day you are downloading or streaming. If you frequently download or stream files between the hours of 4pm to midnight – i.e. peak period, your bandwidth slows down and your usage is higher. So this is a good time to avoid.

If you have unlimited downloads, you do not have to worry about monitoring downloads, but if you have a limited download allowance, it is a good idea to talk to your ISP about ways in which that you can monitor your internet usage.

Here are some of our tips for monitoring your download usage:

  • See if there is a way which you can monitor your internet usage statistics through your ISP. Most ISP’s allow you to regularly view your usage through your online account.

  • Internet Explorer lets you view the files which you have temporarily downloaded or viewed. To do this, go to TOOLS > INTERNET OPTIONS (under the browsing section) SETTINGS > VIEW FILES. This will provide you with a folder containing a list of temporary internet files you have viewed in date order so that you can add up your month’s usage.

  • Mozilla Firefox has a similar feature. To access your download history, simply go to TOOLS > DOWNLOADS to view your most recently viewed files.

Estimating your monthly average usage is a great way to see how much of your download allowance you actually use. This is an easy way to determine if you are on the right plan.

Download allowance usage:

Activity type

Typical usage

Sending an email


Downloading or uploading a digital photo


Streaming 30 minutes of video at a rate of 800KB (for example watching YouTube videos)


Streaming 30 minutes of audio at a rate of 128KB


Telstra and Optus have opted to offer capped plans for home internet usage meaning that once you go over your download limit, your usage is cut off or your service slows considerably to help customers avoid large unexpected bills. Not all ISPs offer capped services so make sure you know the full details of your plan before you sign up. Most will also provide you with the option to receive an email notification when you are approaching your download limit. Please note that mobile internet usage has no restrictions and not monitoring your account may result in hefty fees.