How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 29, 2008
Updated • Nov 16, 2017

Precious bandwidth. Many Internet Service providers try anything in their power to limit the monthly bandwidth of their customers who are on an unlimited or flatrate plan.

If you are on a plan without limitation in regards to bandwidth, you may still run into hurdles, for instance when providers start to throttle bandwidth or implement traffic shaping.

The webhosting world has marched to the same tune for a very long time. One company seems to be at the center of the battle.

The name of the company is Comcast; Comcast announced recently that it will limit the monthly bandwidth usage of all of the company's customers to 250 Gigabytes per month starting from October 1. Comcast did contact customers who did break that limit in the past asking them to reduce their bandwidth usage; customers who did not comply would find their accounts suspended as a reaction to that.

Starting from October 1, customers who go beyond the 250 Gigabyte limit will receive a notification about their monthly bandwidth usage and a clear message that their account will be suspended if they go over the limit again in the next six months.

That leads to the question: how much bandwidth do you need? Would you be able to stay under the 250 Gigabyte limit? I honestly have to answer that I won't be able to stay under the limit. While 250 Gigabytes do seem a lot it becomes less if you divide it by the days of the month. A little bit more than 8 Gigabytes per day are available to the user.

A single daily backup file of Ghacks has a size of 8 Gigabytes. If the limitation is enforced, I would not be able to download the image each day anymore.

If you watch high definition content on the Internet you will reach that limit easily. If you download videos, DVDs or use P2P you will also reach that limit. If you stream a lot of videos or audio, you may too. A lot of users will reach that limit, not only P2P users which anyone would suggest to be the only affected users.

Tip: You can use free programs like Net Guard, or NetSpeed Monitor to monitor the daily, weekly and monthly bandwidth usage.

So, how much bandwidth do you need per day / month?

How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?
Article Name
How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?
Internet Service Providers start to limit the monthly bandwidth allowance of customers; how much bandwidth do you need at a bare minimum?
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  1. FTW said on May 6, 2011 at 1:07 am

    In the US I can get so far 10GB a mouth, and I have gone higher, it just gets a little slower the higher it goes. I make films and I like to share them, with out breaking myself doing so.

  2. ClosetRider said on February 7, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I’m in Canada. My ISP is Rogers. We (my parents) pay about ~$40 CAD for a 60GB Limit on a 100MB connection. If your like me then you can use up that limit fairly fast. (I used up 45GB in about 5 days o_o). But I think we do have it fairly better than most others. For about $100 (last I checked) we get 175GB.

  3. John said on May 20, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    I usually use ProteMac Meter. It is very easy to use. I like it.

  4. Jojo said on March 30, 2010 at 6:37 am

    There is electricity in Papua New Guinea??? One would never guess that watching the Discovery or National Geo channels. [lol]

    Seriously, I feel bad for you.

    Can’t you get internet through a satellite and bypass the ISP? Should cost less than $10k/month!

  5. pngboi said on March 29, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I’ve read most of your replies. The US, Turkey, Poland, Ireland, UK, Brazil, Australia and India. Well…I live in Papua New Guinea, WE BY FAR, have the worst internet available on Earth. Telikom is the ISP monopoly (government owned), market penetration is less than 2% and the end of the day rate charges come out to more than mortgage on a house in a first world country for the average customer. I’m not kidding.
    It is now March 2010, we currently have a 2 GB limit on a “2MB” plan (the maximum burst speed has never surpassed 128K). All this for a great low price of $250/month. But that is not the killer. We have to pay $0.15 per MB once we’ve exhausted our 2GB/month limit. That comes out to $150/GB! What’s more? The ADSL service was available for two years, but the ISP did NOT charge for the overage fees….then suddenly they hit everyone with the bill just when people thought that they were getting unlimited use internet. I personally sighted bills of over $20,000 for home users. My bill came out to $10,000. Additionally, it was found that the ISP had no accurate way of tracking it’s client’s usage….so they decided to bill according to how much revenue they wished to make that month. My following bill exceeded $10,000 for one month’s use…and I was not in the country for that entire month.
    There is currently no larger bandwidth plan offered by the ISP.

    Recently, Alvarion has been setting up their WiMax system in Papua New Guinea (in partnership with the government ISP). I had the chance to view their proposed pricing plans and it is an absolute joke. The best value plan includes 42GB per YEAR at a 2MB speed for a bargain price of $4,000. Additional charges are still approximately $0.15/MB.

    Now let’s put this into perspective….If this pricing plan was in the US, those people who somehow use the entire 250GB/month. The bill for that said downloader would be $37,533.33 per month! Affordable? Fair? Market Share fetching? No! No! and HELL NO!
    Your Microsoft/internet security weekly updates will already exhaust your entire allowed D/L limit for the month. So any net browsing will cost you.

    The current population of Papua New Guinea is 6.7 million people, the target market for internet usage is 150,000 for the new system. There are currently much less users than 150,000.

    I firmly believe that in the day and age of information technology, the privelage of emails and google should not be reserved for the aristocracy. The Digital Divide is leaving our country well behind any of the countries mentioned in above and I assume that we will soon start to go back in time (unless we are already doing that, idk because I’m here now and that information is not currently available to me).

    If there are any bloggers that care to top the woes of Papua New Guinea’s lack of internet service, please say something so that I don’t feel that I’m living and working here just to pay the government for the right to have information.

    My 2 cents at a bargain rate.

  6. ShAhZ said on January 20, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    did i mention its 768 kbps Up strange for a developing country, but its better off in IT.

  7. JudgeX said on January 20, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    $24 a month for cable would be incredible. We’d have similar prices if we had choices, but, most people are stuck with only one cable provider… and, then it becomes “pay this premium or use a dish” … and the service quality of a dish isn’t even remotely comparable.

  8. ShAhZ said on January 20, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    would’nt :P

  9. ShAhZ said on January 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    In pakistan we pay Rs 1850(24$)/month for a 768 kbps connection with no download limit watsoever. As for the 250 gig limit..i believe that is good enough though if an option of say 50 gig more for say 5$ would seem like a bad idea.


  10. Flumuxed said on October 22, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Imagine if everyone gobbled up 250gigs a month!

    Is there an element of greed there?

  11. JudgeX said on October 8, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    This is true… the relaxation of anti-trust and monopoly law enforcement will probably spell the eventual end of our economy.

  12. Jojo said on October 8, 2008 at 5:41 am

    Good comments JudgeX. Unfortunately, this is America. Big companies such as Comcast get to do what they want as long as they continue contributing to the politicians.

  13. JudgeX said on October 7, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    One more thing. It used to be that the reason the cost was so high for Broadband was that the mega-downloader guys were being subsidized by average joe downloaders… the old “shoplifting maxim”…

    Now that the mega-download-kids are being charged for their “overage”… shouldn’t everyone else’s bill decrease when they don’t spend 250gb worth of bandwidth?

    No? Less service, same price, Comcast? Niiiice.

    Someone is starting to sound a lot like an oil company now that they are big.

  14. JudgeX said on October 7, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    The problem with the limitation is generally not seen immediately.

    But, here are some places where it will become problematic.

    1) I use Netflix to watch a lot of movies online, sometimes only one or two movies in a month, but, sometimes 10+, or entire seasons of TV shows. As time goes on, quality improves, the size of these downloads increases. In a few years, the amount of HD content available to stream from netflix or other services, legally, will be many volumes more. There have been nights where Netflix has replaced my television outright.

    2) An average online game will use about 300kb per minute. Some games use 500k to 1 MB per minute. As time goes on, this will increase, as it has been. 60 MB an hour adds up relatively fast, especially for MMOs, where a player may literally not disconnect for more than 5 hours at a time. Remember that this is in right now “2008” terms, in “2013” terms, this will be more like 200 MB an hour. This doesn’t even refer to the games being downloaded themselves, which is more.

    3) Voice over IP, Video Conferencing, Internet Radio, Internet television technologies, all bundled together, and being used in households that have multiple computer users (mine only has two, some have 4 or 5) all add up quickly. Right now, a single user would be hard pressed to outdo the 250gb limit without a very special scenario, but, add in 2 or 3 more people to that family/apartment, banging on that same router, and take into consideration that the quality of online media will increase over time… you can very quickly see a reasonable percentage of people running into that limit in 2010 or 2012.

    Now Comcast wants to charge more for this?

    $140 per month for a DVR, Crappy Channel Selection, no premium channels, and the same old cable internet everyone else has? That’s what I pay. Now they want more when I go over?

    It’s possible that this is all accidentally left future vulnerable, but, I would wager that comcast specifically failed to future proof so that they could scrape up $150-160 a month from their average customer base when they offer to remove the cap for an additional fee.

  15. Motes Electronics Inc. said on September 4, 2008 at 9:32 am

    i was just looking over this, my company together uses over 800 GB’s a day, but it is quiet understandable since we have like 200 computers running all day and about 30 servers we would be screwed if we had com cast huh??

  16. eloko said on September 1, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    i use like around 500gb or more a month with movies shows games… and tv, and thats not HD tv yet, just the normal… i guess i never make with those 250. good i have connection at 6mb download and i ask about going to 10mb and they told me they cant. i was wonder why?

  17. Jack said on August 31, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    My own UK ISP is starting to impose limits, not to mention keeping a record of my downloads for any bureaucratic busybody to inspect. Room 101 here we come.

    Commercially-speaking, the words that come most readily to mind are “goose” and “golden eggs”!

  18. MrD666 said on August 30, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Well prior to Adelphia being absorbed by Comcast I could say between my game consoles, and other content, I was doing about 350 to 500 GIGS a month… really, you have to include everything from browsing, emails, streaming media (which is now becoming even more important to content suppliers), and other mediums. I don’t think that its just limited to the “WAREZ KIDDIES”. I’m no longer living in the US, and I’m in Eastern Europe myself and while I’m not doing that amount of transfers, I would say, I could get close, if I even didn’t TRY hard. Yes I mean that, and I’m not sucking down hardly any sort of stuff like in the past. It would scare me, and I would feel like my money wasn’t going for what I’m paying for.

    And for the record this has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with infrastructure, Comcast got the totally FIBER network that Adelphia had built. They could handle tons more, TONS MORE. I knew a guy that worked for Adelphia, and he said the old network could handle amounts of close to the FIBER.

    I think its more to free up bandwidth for a forthcoming digital content launch.

    And just for arguments sake, what about those of us with more than 1 computer? It then becomes a division 2= 125.50 GIG, etc.

  19. Transcontinental said on August 30, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Limits, even if not reached, are psychologically detestable otherwise than is social life. Moreover it is a nasty counter-advertisement. Internet providers have far enough users who retain very/little bandwidth to … provide them with enough band-flow to handle hungrier users. To be in the logic of insurance, they should, when rising limits, lower charges for those who use bandwidth like a pretty lady sugar!

  20. iampriteshdesai said on August 30, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Somebody once said ,” Internet has enough for everyone’s need but not for greed.”
    I’d even kill for getting your net connections.
    In India I only get 1 GB per month at 512 kbps in 2008.
    And I am satisfied with it.

  21. Declan said on August 30, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Or 11 movies in avi format.

    For all those with way less than 250GB a month (1GB a day or less), what would you do with 8GBs? I don’t even know could I download that much data a day: I’d run out of things I wanted to watch and listen to pretty quickly.

  22. Thinker said on August 30, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I think you wrong Martin. 250GB is enough for 99% of users. 8GB per day? That’s one or two HD movies. My question is: do you watch every day a movie? And is there possible to find so much HD content to download every day? Would it be legal? I really don’t think. In Poland some years ago we got 15GB limit on a 0.5mbit internet. That was a horror. I got problems with that. But today? Even if I watch weekly ~3 movies and sometimes I download other big stuff I’m still under 50GB /month. 250GB is really good limit.

  23. Martin said on August 30, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Just to weight in my 2 cents, there is usually no bandwidth limitation in place in Germany. You can download as much as you want. Competition is pretty stiff here which might be the reason why no one is even thinking about bandwidth limitations currently.

    You get a 16 Mbit / 1 Mbit ADSL2 flatrate plus phone flatrate for land based calls for 40 Euro which is roughly $60.

  24. unruled said on August 30, 2008 at 11:47 am

    australia’s internet is pretty sad. I recall its ranked worse than Turkey.. and well, if you’ve been to turkey and seen the infrastructure, you should know how bad that means it is.

    Especially granted that in australia the problem isn’t infra-structure, just lack of investment.

  25. Jojo said on August 30, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Wow. Glad I don’t have any limits if I DID want to download a lot of content. I am on AT&T DSL. Unlimited (so far). US$30/month for 3mb down / 512kb up.

  26. G Thompson said on August 30, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Here in Australia its rare that you can get any Domestic (non Business) Plan that goes over 70Gig per month. Actually for that amount you are paying around $150 to $200 per month.
    Actually Most users are on 12 to 24 month contracts with the our two major tyelcos for a wopping $39.95 a month and a measly 5 gigs (or less) on adsl2.

    Me? I’m paying for the home account $29.95 and getting 24 gigs per month.. Which is split into 2 segments of 12gigs per month dependant on what time I am downloading at (Yeah confusing ~lol~).. On the Business end.. well ummm.. consulting to govt etc about digital forensics etc has its benefits ~bfg~

  27. Binc Grosby said on August 30, 2008 at 8:02 am

    many nice tips here.
    just wondering why is your site called “ghacks”

    is it short for google hacks?

  28. gary said on August 30, 2008 at 1:39 am


    yeah, the prices in mainland UK are pretty similar; I pay the equivalent of ~€17 for my connection, but if I had opted for a mainstream ISP like BT, I would be getting the same kind of deal as you. My price plan is no longer listed on my ISP’s website either, I think they have forgotten about me lol! I am grateful for what I have.

    Still jealous of guys like unruled above, though, with 100mbit connections. Oh, the hard drives I could fill with that! :)

  29. Declan said on August 30, 2008 at 12:24 am

    In Ireland, I only have 10GB a month and no serious option to change. I could pay twice the money for an extra 20GB (I think it’s €40 for 30GB) but it’s extremely difficult or nearly impossible to get that if you don’t have a business. They are really reluctant to give a whole 30GB to domestic users. I really laugh when I hear people complaining about a cap that allows as much in a day as I get in a month, and as far as I can see, the prices are not too different (correct me if I’m wrong).

  30. Tsavkko said on August 29, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Don’t know what u’re complaining about, here in Brazil my service of 4MB allows me to d/l only 40GB/month… It sucks but that’s the least worst company in Brazil!

  31. Jojo said on August 29, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    Note that this limit is for RESIDENTIAL customers.

    I don’t watch many video’s on the net. Don’t have the time and get bored sitting there watching things.

    Here is my net history from Bitmeter2:

    Month Downloaded Uploaded Both Directions
    Aug-08 1,793,649,839 319,634,891 2,113,284,730
    Jul-08 3,970,913,135 563,578,739 4,534,491,874
    Jun-08 4,274,376,276 567,293,436 4,841,669,712
    May-08 4,023,918,741 487,829,647 4,511,748,388
    Apr-08 2,886,643,292 425,373,895 3,312,017,187
    Mar-08 2,222,226,295 408,916,763 2,631,143,058
    Feb-08 2,684,704,739 389,847,859 3,074,552,598
    Jan-08 2,914,163,378 526,675,902 3,440,839,280
    Dec-07 6,027,200,199 724,567,864 6,751,768,063
    Nov-07 2,945,553,074 309,120,781 3,254,673,855

  32. gary said on August 29, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    250 gigs per month sounds like about a fair limit for an average internet user, at least for one with a relatively low budget for such things, like me on about the cheapest possible broadband service available in my area (one meg).

    I downloaded the freeware “Bitmeter” from on Wednesday and have been finding it fascinating to look at the “statistics grid” and get detailed information on my hourly/daily etc network activity. Apparently I have downloaded 20.97 GB in the past 3 days…

    According to the “Fair Use” policy on my ISP’s website, users whose weekly use exceeds 2.7 GB are put in the “sin bin” and have their connection speed limited.

    I must be constantly there, yet I’m not too bothered by that; my bittorrent d/l speed rarely drops below around 80-100 kB/s. This is good enough for me, as the alternative ISP in my area (BT) offers its cheapest service at a price higher than I currently pay; and would give me a 10 GB monthly limit.

    10 GB! lulz! I’d use it in a day.

  33. man friday said on August 29, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    First we’ll take it away, and when your hungry enough, we’ll sell it back to you

  34. unruled said on August 29, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I have 100/100mbit, and it depends on whats out on the internet, so to speak. In the past I’ve done close to 5 TB per month in uploads.

    Nowadays, on realistic basis I do about 400-500 GB in download/upload traffic per month.

    Here’s something to keep in mind: the faster the connection, the more bandwidth hungry you will get, and thus, the bigger the bandwidth allowance you need.

  35. garbanzo said on August 29, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    i download what i consider to be a lot of content – software, movies, tv series – but i don’t think i come close to 250gb/month. even at 5gb/day as an estimate, that is plenty. though i’ve never checked my actual numbers.

    anyway here in eastern europe they don’t worry much about bandwith usage…

  36. iampriteshdesai said on August 29, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    I only get MB per day :(
    My monthly balance is 1 GB for 1 month :(

  37. Dante said on August 29, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I average approximately 30 gigs a day – between files and games. I fully expect my internet provider to start limiting my bandwidth – once the competition is gone :)

  38. Fernando said on August 29, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I use about 2 gigs a day even tho my computer is usually on all day

  39. darkkosmos said on August 29, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    I usually get 3 gig a day, at beast 5 gig. I will never hit that cap and if someone do hit the cap he’s probably gonna worry about the police van outside of his house than the 15$ fine.

  40. orhan said on August 29, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    in turkey, we have a 9 gigabyte limited adsl subscription for approx 20 dollars. compared to comcast, turkish telecom is a real evil.

  41. GRTerrero said on August 29, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    They should be sued. They’re trying to punish their customers for their lack of infrastructure!

  42. Martin said on August 29, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Well you do not have to be on place to download stuff so that argument only is valid for streaming content.

    I usually waste more than 60 Gigabytes with Backups of my sites alone per month.

  43. Emil said on August 29, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Dude, I’ve never spend more then 150GB, and I’m using P2P and torrents to download movies, music, apps, games and much more everyday!

    I usually spend 4-5GB a day, which I think should be enough for most people…

    And as a side note, when someone could possible reach the limit, they would get a lot more free time to do other stuff, so all is not so bad!


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