Network - Wireless & Wired Connections

Help & troubleshooting for network issues, including connecting your device to your home Wi-Fi network, connecting to public networks, troubleshooting wireless issues & ethernet connections, and optimizing streaming performance.
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DJT22023
Level 7

Roku is eating up Bandwidth

The first month that we bought our Roku device, we were fine. We used around 600 GB of data. Last month we jumped to 1051 GB of data and got a nasty gram from Comcast. I have looked at everything that is potentially wrong and cannot pinpoint the issue. I have looked at logs to see if someone is scraping my data and no one is attached. I cannot figure out why it is doing this. The only thing that I can think of is the recordings that might be happening while we are watching tv, but that is not even that much. I have tried to supply as much info about the devices below.

Both TVS - 1080 Resolution
Roku Streaming Stick
Comcast 1 TB data

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25 Replies
Basil
Level 10

Re: Roku is eating up Bandwidth

"DJT22023" wrote:
The first month that we bought our Roku device, we were fine. We used around 600 GB of data. Last month we jumped to 1051 GB of data and got a nasty gram from Comcast. I have looked at everything that is potentially wrong and cannot pinpoint the issue. I have looked at logs to see if someone is scraping my data and no one is attached. I cannot figure out why it is doing this. The only thing that I can think of is the recordings that might be happening while we are watching tv, but that is not even that much. I have tried to supply as much info about the devices below.

Both TVS - 1080 Resolution
Roku Streaming Stick
Comcast 1 TB data

There are no recordings. Roku is a streaming device, not a DVR. You may see references to DVR if you have a service that includes what they call "cloud DVR" or something similar, but Roku is not recording anything.

I suspect -- and this is because this is the common cause -- that you are not stopping your streaming when you stop watching. If you start streaming something, particularly something that auto-plays the next item, it will continue streaming, even if you turn your TV off.

Roku and your TV are two separate devices. Just like a DVD or Blu-ray player are separate from your TV. Think for a minute. If you pop in a disc on your DVD player and press play, watch about 15 minutes of a movie, then turn your TV off, your DVD will keep playing. Turn your TV on an hour later, and your disc is an hour further into the movie. Roku works the same way. If you tell it to play, it will play until the thing playing is over. It will go even further if you are streaming something that auto-plays the next thing (movie, TV episode, video, etc). Many many services are "helpful" in making that the default behavior.

Couple of suggestions. I suggest both. Use them or ignore them.

1. When you are through streaming something, when you're done watching TV via Roku, hit the Home button on the Roku. That stops the streaming and takes you to the Home Screen/Main Menu.

2. Turn off auto-play on services. Netflix will auto-start (not the same as auto-play) and you can't do anything about that. But you can turn off auto-play (https://www.netflix.com/HdToggle). Hulu, YouTube, and many other services auto-play be default. I suggest turning that off. You may have to do that for each profile.

Sure, you'll have to tell it to start the next item rather than it doing it for you. But, if you forget to do suggestion #1, or if you have trouble convincing family members that aren't having to pay the bill to do suggestion #1, suggestion #2 is a backup.
Basil
https://www.basilsblog.com/
Roku Ultra (4660)
Apple TV (5th gen), TiVo

Previous:
Roku boxes from every generation.
Apple TV (2nd, 3rd, 4th gen)
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DJT22023
Level 7

Re: Roku is eating up Bandwidth

"Basil" wrote:
"DJT22023" wrote:
The first month that we bought our Roku device, we were fine. We used around 600 GB of data. Last month we jumped to 1051 GB of data and got a nasty gram from Comcast. I have looked at everything that is potentially wrong and cannot pinpoint the issue. I have looked at logs to see if someone is scraping my data and no one is attached. I cannot figure out why it is doing this. The only thing that I can think of is the recordings that might be happening while we are watching tv, but that is not even that much. I have tried to supply as much info about the devices below.

Both TVS - 1080 Resolution
Roku Streaming Stick
Comcast 1 TB data

There are no recordings. Roku is a streaming device, not a DVR. You may see references to DVR if you have a service that includes what they call "cloud DVR" or something similar, but Roku is not recording anything.

I suspect -- and this is because this is the common cause -- that you are not stopping your streaming when you stop watching. If you start streaming something, particularly something that auto-plays the next item, it will continue streaming, even if you turn your TV off.

Roku and your TV are two separate devices. Just like a DVD or Blu-ray player are separate from your TV. Think for a minute. If you pop in a disc on your DVD player and press play, watch about 15 minutes of a movie, then turn your TV off, your DVD will keep playing. Turn your TV on an hour later, and your disc is an hour further into the movie. Roku works the same way. If you tell it to play, it will play until the thing playing is over. It will go even further if you are streaming something that auto-plays the next thing (movie, TV episode, video, etc). Many many services are "helpful" in making that the default behavior.

Couple of suggestions. I suggest both. Use them or ignore them.

1. When you are through streaming something, when you're done watching TV via Roku, hit the Home button on the Roku. That stops the streaming and takes you to the Home Screen/Main Menu.

2. Turn off auto-play on services. Netflix will auto-start (not the same as auto-play) and you can't do anything about that. But you can turn off auto-play (https://www.netflix.com/HdToggle). Hulu, YouTube, and many other services auto-play be default. I suggest turning that off. You may have to do that for each profile.

Sure, you'll have to tell it to start the next item rather than it doing it for you. But, if you forget to do suggestion #1, or if you have trouble convincing family members that aren't having to pay the bill to do suggestion #1, suggestion #2 is a backup.

So, while this has happened in some instances, they are no different than the first month that we got Roku. We made the same mistakes then on "leaving it running" but we never got this high in data. The first full month we never broke 700 GB, that is why I was not concerned with it. Since we jumped 400 GB in one month, I have been looking for the culprit. The ONLY change in what we have been doing is that Comcast changed out speed from 100 MBPS to 150 MBPS at the same time that this started. I would not be worried about this if it were both TVs being on at the same time and both pulling data, but that rarely happens. As for the autoplay, if I am watching a series for instance and we finish one episode and then back out of that and start watching something else, is that series still somehow playing in the background? That same question would apply to different apps. If I am watching a show on Netflicks and leave that show to go to Hulu Live, does Netflick keep playing in the background or is it "disabled" because I went to the home screen first?
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apodtele
Level 7

Re: Roku is eating up Bandwidth

Make sure your neighbors are not using your WIFI - only use WPA2. If this is not the issue, do tell us how many hours per day you stream, don't be shy.
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Basil
Level 10

Re: Roku is eating up Bandwidth

"DJT22023" wrote:
So, while this has happened in some instances, they are no different than the first month that we got Roku. We made the same mistakes then on "leaving it running" but we never got this high in data. The first full month we never broke 700 GB, that is why I was not concerned with it. Since we jumped 400 GB in one month, I have been looking for the culprit. The ONLY change in what we have been doing is that Comcast changed out speed from 100 MBPS to 150 MBPS at the same time that this started. I would not be worried about this if it were both TVs being on at the same time and both pulling data, but that rarely happens.

Have you started watching any UHD (4K) content? UHD/4K uses about 4 times the bandwidth of Full HD (1080p) content. Full HD is about 2 times standard HD (720p). If you weren't watching UHD/4K content previously, but if you are now watching some, that would eat more bandwidth.
"DJT22023" wrote:
As for the autoplay, if I am watching a series for instance and we finish one episode and then back out of that and start watching something else, is that series still somehow playing in the background?

No. When you exit an app, the streaming stops. That's why I was suggesting the Home button approach.
"DJT22023" wrote:
That same question would apply to different apps. If I am watching a show on Netflicks and leave that show to go to Hulu Live, does Netflick keep playing in the background or is it "disabled" because I went to the home screen first?

No. Netflix is a separate app. See previous comment.
Basil
https://www.basilsblog.com/
Roku Ultra (4660)
Apple TV (5th gen), TiVo

Previous:
Roku boxes from every generation.
Apple TV (2nd, 3rd, 4th gen)
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DJT22023
Level 7

Re: Roku is eating up Bandwidth

"Basil" wrote:
"DJT22023" wrote:
So, while this has happened in some instances, they are no different than the first month that we got Roku. We made the same mistakes then on "leaving it running" but we never got this high in data. The first full month we never broke 700 GB, that is why I was not concerned with it. Since we jumped 400 GB in one month, I have been looking for the culprit. The ONLY change in what we have been doing is that Comcast changed out speed from 100 MBPS to 150 MBPS at the same time that this started. I would not be worried about this if it were both TVs being on at the same time and both pulling data, but that rarely happens.

Have you started watching any UHD (4K) content? UHD/4K uses about 4 times the bandwidth of Full HD (1080p) content. Full HD is about 2 times standard HD (720p). If you weren't watching UHD/4K content previously, but if you are now watching some, that would eat more bandwidth.
"DJT22023" wrote:
As for the autoplay, if I am watching a series for instance and we finish one episode and then back out of that and start watching something else, is that series still somehow playing in the background?

No. When you exit an app, the streaming stops. That's why I was suggesting the Home button approach.
"DJT22023" wrote:
That same question would apply to different apps. If I am watching a show on Netflicks and leave that show to go to Hulu Live, does Netflick keep playing in the background or is it "disabled" because I went to the home screen first?

No. Netflix is a separate app. See previous comment.

Funny that you mention the UHD, I really never knew my TVs had that capability, however, I did check both and they are running at 1080
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DJT22023
Level 7

Re: Roku is eating up Bandwidth

"apodtele" wrote:
Make sure your neighbors are not using your WIFI - only use WPA2. If this is not the issue, do tell us how many hours per day you stream, don't be shy.

I have checked all possible avenues of where the data could be used prior to coming here. I am, after all, a web developer. I don't like to waste my time and I don't want to waste other people's time, so I ran logs, looked at all the connections, and did all diagnostics and checked them 4 times. 
At the most, our TVs are on no more than an average of 6 hours a day, and that is being generous. One is a full-time nurse that works 4 shifts a week at night so sleeps a lot and then is a full-time student getting a masters. I run a WordPress website support company, go to school full-time as well, and workout 3 hours a day, so my tv time is limited. 
Before Roku, we were typically around 70 GB usage a month. Since Roku, we had one month of 632, then last month was 1051, and today we sit at 107. Something has changed and the only thing that is evident is the speed provided by Comcast went from 100 MBPS to 150 MBPS. 
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makaiguy
Level 10

Re: Roku is eating up Bandwidth

The figures you get from your ISP are your maximum throughput rates.  If you run actual speed tests occasionally, you'll probably find that you often get much less.  Mine is only a 50 Mbps plan but it often tests out at 10-20 or sometimes even lower.

Given all that's been said to this point...

My guess is that under your 100 Mbps plan you were often getting much less. Some streaming services downgrade your resolution when they detect slower throughput. They may have been occasionally cutting you back from 1080 to 720 (or even lower) and thus using less bandwidth. Today's sets do a pretty good job of upscaling so lower resolutions may not be as noticeable as they used to be.  When Comcast kicked you up to 150 Mbps, perhaps your rate stayed high enough that these services no longer needed to cut resolution back, or at least not as often.
Roku 3, 4200X, Ser 4124C7087583, wifi connected - Samsung UN55ES6100
Roku Streaming Stick, 3600X, Ser 5S56D8240827, wifi connected - JVC EM37T
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DJT22023
Level 7

Re: Roku is eating up Bandwidth

"makaiguy" wrote:
The figures you get from your ISP are your maximum throughput rates.  If you run actual speed tests occasionally, you'll probably find that you often get much less.

Given all that's been said to this point...

My guess is that under your 100 Mbps plan you were often getting much less, enough less that some of your streaming services which downgrade your resolution when they detect slower throughput were occasionally cutting you back from 1080 to 720 (or even lower) and thus using less bandwidth. Today's sets to a pretty good job of upscaling so lower resolutions may not be as noticeable as they used to be.  When Comcast kicked you up to 150 Mbps, perhaps your rate stayed high enough that it no longer needed to cut resolution back, or at least not as often.

Per Hulu, they only require 8 download speed. As for speed, as I stated before, being a web developer I check speeds daily because I am working server to server more times than not. Surprisingly, my speeds stay consistent where I live. I could not say that in Knoxville, where I used to live and actually switched to WOW because of it. I was able to get dedicated service through WOW because I ran a home business but Comcast would not do that and I had to stay shared. My point being, I don't believe that the resolution has been changing at all. I believe for it to change, you have to have the display set at automatic as opposed to selecting a particular resolution. That is coming directly from the support staff at Hulu.
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twiceover
Level 10

Re: Roku is eating up Bandwidth

Could just be viewing habits.  When we cut cable I steadily saw our usage increase and finally level off.  800+GB is pretty normal for us.  Luckily none of our ISPs have caps.

Big thing is making sure to exit the apps before shutting of the TV itself.
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