Streaming services like Netflix require a lot of bandwidth. This quickly leads to problems, especially in a large home network where many different devices and users simultaneously claim Internet bandwidth for themselves. Then it can happen that the available bandwidth is no longer sufficient.

The current Corona pandemic in particular has led to increased use of the Internet. This is shown above all by the increase in video conferencing, home office and also streaming use. This increase can pose a particular challenge for the entire network. That’s why there was concern as early as March 2020 that streams from platforms like Netflix and Co. could put an excessive strain on the networks. In mid-March 2020, Netflix therefore declared that it would reduce the bit rates of all its streams in Europe. The U.S. company reduced the bandwidth of its streamed videos in Germany and Austria by 25 percent for more than a month and a half. After that, the bit rate was gradually ramped up again.

In the meantime, Netflix has completely lifted the throttling for streaming and delivers movies and series in the best possible quality again. Thus, you have to regulate yourself how much bandwidth Netflix streams at home. Especially when Netflix takes up a large part of the bandwidth, this can mean that other users or other devices in the same home network experience extremely high loading times, for example. Therefore, there are often situations where you need to limit the bandwidth for certain devices or applications to ensure stress-free Internet usage for all household members.

What is meant by “limit bandwidth”?

For example, while you are streaming a Netflix video in high quality and other users on the same home network have a different download request, the full capacity of the server is distributed evenly among the number of requests. The bandwidths are fixed. This is where you can start in case of a problem and limit the bandwidth that a particular program is allowed to use. This is especially useful if you still want the program to work, but don’t necessarily want it to run at full speed. This intentional bandwidth limitation is called bandwidth control.

How does bandwidth control work in Netflix?

If you watch video-on-demand, you have the option to reduce the resolution. High-quality videos require more bandwidth than low-quality videos. This means that you have to accept quality losses, but Netflix only needs a fraction of your bandwidth in this case. The resolution in HD quality is still excellent, but only needs one fifth of the data rate compared to Ultra HD.

The following internet download speeds per stream are generally recommended by Netflix:

0,5 Mbit per secondMinimum required bandwidth
1,5 Mbit per second Recommended bandwidth
3,0 Mbit per second Recommended for standard resolution
5,5 Mbit per second Recommended for HD quality
25 Mbit per second Recommended for UltraHD quality

You can now limit the bandwidth by changing your Netflix data usage settings. The settings can be set individually for each profile in your account. So, if you are concerned about the total amount of data used by Netflix, you should repeat the following steps for each profile:

  1. Download in your browser to open your Netflix account page.
  2. Under Profile and Parental Controls, select the profile name you want.
Netflix Profile & Parental Controls
Netflix Profile & Parental Controls
  1. Select the “Change” option for the playback settings.

Netflix Playback settings
  1. Select the desired data usage setting.
Netflix Data Usage

Netflix offers four settings for data usage:

Low 0,3 GByte per hour and device
Medium SD: 0,7 GByte per hour and device
HighBest video quality: up to 3 GBytes per hour per device for HD and up to 7 GBytes per hour per device for Ultra HD
AutoAutomatically adjusts data consumption based on your current internet connection speed to provide the highest quality streaming possible

View bitrate and throughput in Netflix

You can also use the key combination Control + Shift + Alt + D to display the current resolution at which a movie or series is being played while steaming at Netflix. You can see this, for example, by the value displayed in the “Playing bitrate” line. The higher the bitrate, the better the quality and the higher the bandwidth. You also have the option of looking at the throughput.

What other options do I have to limit the bandwidth?

If the ability to reduce the resolution in Netflix is not enough for you, there are other ways to limit the bandwidth for certain devices. For one, many routers offer the option to prioritize devices or have their own bandwidth control in their settings. Prioritized devices are then always entitled to the bandwidth they need and are no longer slowed down by non-prioritized devices. On the other hand, there are various tools, such as “NetBalancer” or “NetLimiter”, which can allocate a certain bandwidth to individual applications.

Categories: Streaming