How Much Data Does A Hotspot Use?

Pocket hotspot device - how much data does a hotspot use
Credit: Vodafone

Pocket hotspot device - how much data does a hotspot use
Credit: Vodafone

Wondering how much data a hotspot uses? We've got you covered!

When you are out and about and need to connect to the internet without a conventional WiFi connection, one option is to use a hotspot. But what is a hotspot, how does a hotspot work, and how much data does a hotspot use?

You don't want to discover that a quick check of your emails has suddenly used your entire data allowance for the month. Fortunately, you don't need to worry about that.

In this guide, we'll explain how hotspots work, and give you a rough idea of how much data a hotspot uses.

How Much Data Does A Hotspot Use?

Before we answer that pertinent question, it's important to clarify what we are really discussing. The term hotspot is often used interchangeably to mean a few different things. But this article really relates to mobile hotspots, either via your mobile phone, or by using a pocket hotspot device, in a process known as tethering. We'll explain a bit more about what a mobile hotspot is below.

But in terms of how much data one of these hotspots will use, the answer really depends on what you are using it for. As with your mobile phone, your data consumption will depend on how you use it. Checking your emails, for example, will use far less data than streaming a high-definition movie.

What does this translate to in real terms? While it's almost impossible to give an exact answer, we can offer a rough guide, courtesy of the UK network, O2. They suggest the following:

1GB a month is roughly enough to:

  • browse for 11 hours
  • send 16,000 emails without attachments or 300 with attachments
  • download 17 songs
  • watch 40 minutes of TV.

3GB a month is roughly enough to:

  • browse for 33 hours
  • send 50,000 emails without attachments or 1000 with attachments
  • download 50 songs
  • watch 120 minutes of TV.

30GB a month is roughly enough to:

  • browse for 330 hours
  • send 500,000 emails without attachments or 10,000 with attachments
  • download 500 songs
  • watch 1200 minutes of TV.

Downloading one song would normally use between 3 and 10MB. An average email without attachments uses between 10 and 30KB of data. Social media is more difficult to gauge. Sending a tweet might use 500KB. But uploading photos will use considerably more, and will vary depending on the resolution of the image. Last, but not least, playing a game online can use a lot of data. O2 suggest 60MB of data per hour, or possibly more.

One additional factor to bear in mind is that using a hotspot can use more data than simply browsing through your mobile phone. For example, if you create a hotspot and start browsing the internet with your laptop, it might load desktop pages, rather than mobile ones. And these tend to be more data-hungry.

That being said, a decent data allowance should enable you to use a hotspot for a reasonable length of time, without having to fear running out of data or going over your allowance and incurring charges.

If you are an Android user, the exact amount of data you’ve shared using the Android hotspot feature can be found with the help of the Datally app. The app can record the amount of data used by your hotspot and alert you when it reaches the limit you specify.

How To Check Hotspot Data Usage On iPhone

To check hotspot data usage on your iPhone, go to Settings > Mobile Data. Under the Mobile Data header, you will find Personal Hotspot and the amount of data you’ve used via hotspot next to it. When you click on it, you will see different devices that have used your hotspot and the amount of data they have consumed.

What Is A Hotspot?

So what is a hotspot? This is when you use your mobile phone (or dedicated pocket hotspot/dongle) data connection to create a WiFi network. You can then connect other devices to that WiFi signal. When you connect another device, you are tethering it to your phone.

It's a great way to allow a device to get online when there is no WiFi connection readily available. And because you are in charge of setting it up, you can create a password to make it more secure than many public WiFi hotspots.

They can sometimes be a little bit slower than a regular WiFi connection, simply because data is passing between two points to reach its destination, rather than one. And as we mentioned above, it can consume more data than it would if you were to use your mobile data through your phone.

And finally, it does drain your battery. So if you are using a mobile phone to create a hotspot, make sure it has plenty of juice, or that you are able to charge it. Especially if you are going to be using the hotspot for a while. It's less of an issue if you are quickly checking a website, or downloading an email.

How Do You Set Up A Hotspot?

If you need to set up a hotspot, it's actually very easy to do:

  • On your mobile phone, go to your settings.
  • Depending on the device, you may need to open one of a few different options: Wireless & Networks, Connections, Mobile Network, Cellular.
  • Look for an option labelled Mobile Hotspot, Personal Hotspot, or similar.
  • Turn it on.
  • On the device you wish to connect, open your WiFi menu, and look for the name of your mobile device. Select it to connect.
  • If prompted, enter the password for your hotspot.
  • Wait for the devices to connect.

Once they connect, you are ready to use your hotspot. And hopefully, now you won't be worrying about how much data you are using. If you are a TikTok user, you may be surprised to know how much data TikTok uses.

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