Chromecasts require the internet to function, irrespective of whether the content being cast is offline or on the internet. You can connect the streaming device to the internet wired (Ethernet) or wirelessly (Wi-Fi).
Ethernet connection is more reliable, but it’s not the most practical. Chromecasts are usually connected to the internet wirelessly. But with Wi-Fi internet, issues like network congestion, signal interference, etc., may arise.
Chromecast-specific concerns include continuous data hogging and the likelihood of a Chromecast connection making the network unreliable for other devices. Or are those unfounded allegations?
Read on to learn more about how Chromecast impacts your internet speed (if it does), the amount of data it uses, and more.
How Much Bandwidth Does Your Chromecast Use?
The amount of data your Chromecast uses depends on actual usage scenarios. If you cast a lot of 4K movies, the data use will be considerably high than someone who uses the device sparingly.
Since usage numbers are not standard or vary with individual users, it’s virtually impossible to ascertain the total bandwidth the streaming dongle uses.
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If your router doesn’t divulge the above information, make some calculated guesses. Because Chromecast can eat into your Wi-Fi data even when idle, expect it to use up at least 10 to 15 GB of monthly data if connected to the internet.
If you use the device to stream movies, play games online, etc., expect that number to increase considerably. It’s not uncommon for a single Chromecast to use 100 GB or more monthly data.
Can Your Chromecast Cause Internet Problems?
Chromecast, by design, will not cause internet problems or hamper the network for other devices. However, users have reported in the past that their Chromecasts slowed down internet speeds or caused temporary outages.
The issue was particularly noticeable when users awakened the streaming device from its slumber. When woken up, the smartphone providing the Cast functionality could temporarily mess up the internet connection.
When they disconnected their Chromecast, the internet was up to speed again or had no stability or signal dropout issues.
The issue was a bug with Google apps and the Android OS. The bug resided in the connecting smartphone’s Cast software, which caused the Chromecast to seek more data packets in a short span than usual.
In technical terms, the Cast feature sent too many multicast DNS discovery packets to keep the live connection. In response, the routers either shut down the internet connection altogether or severed the internet to the connected devices.
Initially, the issue was considered specific to certain routers and Google devices. Later, several other routers, irrespective of the maker and model, were also found to be impacted.
Although there is no definite solution in the offing yet, Google suggests rebooting the phone. A device restart is a simple yet effective solution for most hardware and software-related problems.
Router manufacturers, on the other hand, prescribed rolling back the device’s firmware to earlier versions.
If the above solutions and disconnecting the Chromecast do not stabilize your internet, the problem could be elsewhere.
Note: The issue first surfaced in 2018. Responding to several Chromecast users reporting the same problem, Google acknowledged things and promised a solution soon. It’s been several years since then, and hopefully, the permanent fix has been rolled out.
Despite our efforts, we couldn’t find an official statement from Google regarding the fix. Perhaps, Google kept things discreet, not wanting to put more light on the matter. If using the Chromecast in 2022 or later, you should likely not be experiencing the above concerns.
Check Your Internet Speed
When Chromecast is active, or any other device is connected to the internet, speeds will certainly drop. But check how massive of a fall it is.
If there’s not much of a speed dip–for instance, the speeds are 30 Mbps before and 25 Mbps during Chromecast use–it’s safe to assume the streaming dongle is not disrupting things. But if data transfer rates drop significantly, either the Chromecast is to be blamed, or there’s another issue.
If the numbers read the same and you find the internet not to be snappy enough, perhaps you need a faster internet connection.
Why Does Chromecast Use So Much Data?
Your Chromecast’s data usage is directly proportional to how often you use it and the kind of content you cast with it. But because the device consumes data even when idle, it’s got this notorious image of a “data guzzler.”
Data is being used if the wallpaper on your Chromecast-connected TV changes every few minutes. The device downloads images from the cloud to feed the lock screen with a new wallpaper, requiring data.
The high-res image files can easily consume 10 GB or more data a month. The more Chromecasts you have connected, the greater the data consumption. It’s not unheard of for two to three Chromecasts to use more than 40 GB of data collectively sitting idle.
Minimizing Chromecast Data Use When Idle
Better yet, power off the Chromecast when not in use. Remove its power cable from the wall adapter or your TV’s USB port. If the device gets its power from the TV, turning off the TV may not cut the power supply as some TV ports stay powered on even after the TV is turned off.
Google Chromecasts need the internet, and they’ll take a share of the bandwidth available to other devices. However, sabotaging or making the network extremely reliable is not in their DNA.
As mentioned above, a bug caused issues back in 2018. Luckily, there are stopgap solutions to the problem. Most likely, the issue is no more prevalent now.
When you have a Chromecast and other devices connected, the bandwidth sharing would likely lead to buffering on your Chromecast and not on the other devices.
As far as total data use is concerned, it entirely depends on usage scenarios. Even if you’re not actively using the dongle and the device is still connected, expect a fairly substantial chunk of internet data spent on the device monthly.
Implement the aforementioned solutions to reduce that number or take the device off power when not in use.
Catherine Tramell has been covering technology as a freelance writer for over a decade. She has been writing for Pointer Clicker for over a year, further expanding her expertise as a tech columnist. Catherine likes spending time with her family and friends and her pastimes are reading books and news articles.