Even though digital communication and online activity are the measures by which we communicate with the world, keeping track of how much data individual apps use is a pain in the butt. When users ask how much data Skype uses, it’s often difficult to give a straight answer, given how variable it can be. Skype is a well-known data hog, but we’re going to delve into the topic anyway, and examine some of the ways that you can keep Skype from eating up everything it touches. We’ll talk about cellular data, online data, and also the limited memory available on modern computers and smartphones, which can also become surprisingly taxed under heavy Skype usage.
Skype has become such a popular platform for video calling and messaging that it’s practically earned its own verb. It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase, “I’ll just Skype you later,” or, “Skype me when you get the chance!” Even though it’s far from the only app that offers high-quality video calling over any distance, it was the gold-standard for long enough that many people still choose to rely upon it. There’s a good reason behind that, too–it’s still a fantastic app.
It’s also remarkably well equipped, which means that just as often as individuals are using it, so too are professionals and businesses that depend upon Skype to get their work finished and communicate with their teammates. Google Hangouts and other apps definitely do a good job of handling group calls, but Skype practically pioneered it as a popular practice, which means that people are going to keep relying on it.
The app’s myriad features aren’t without cost, however, and as many mobile users will be quick to tell you, the messaging and calling app can positively devour data, faster than you can keep track of it. Fortunately, there are ways to circumvent the amount of data that Skype uses on a regular basis, but that doesn’t change the fact that it has the reputation for being something of a data hog.
How much data Skype uses depends on quite a few different factors, which we’ll explore in the guide below. Additionally, we’ll take a look at some of the ways that you can slow down Skype’s data usage, whether you’re on a mobile device or a computer. Like any app, Skype will only do what you tell (or allow) it to; therefore, a certain degree of control is needed to wrangle in your technology.
Before we look at how much data Skype is using for its various features, it’s first important to outline what those features are, and what all they’re capable of. Skype’s versatility has only ever grown upward, and it shouldn’t come as any particular surprise that the app is currently valued so highly because of its myriad features.
- Chats: Even though Skype may be known for its voice and video communications abilities, it makes for a stellar persistent chat program as well. Anyone that you’re connected with through Skype can chat with you, and Skype reliably stores all of your communications on its own servers. This means that no matter what device you’re on, you will always have access to the same channels that you’re using on Skype. For people on the go who regularly need to speak with contacts or even an entire team, Skype is a top choice.
- Voice Calling: Skype not only allows you to make calls between other users, it also allows you to call mobile numbers and landlines from inside of the app (at the expense of Skype credits, of course.)
- Video Calling: Here’s where Skype took the whole pie for a long time. As long as you’re signed up for a free account, you can conduct unlimited video calls with anyone else. This has rocketed Skype to the top of the list when it comes to useful apps for communicating over long distances.
- Group Calling: Another area where Skype excels. Group calls, be they video or voice, typically hold up very well on the app’s servers.
All of these, when coupled with the platform’s deep menus and myriad settings, make for one of the most comprehensive communications apps on the market. Plenty have risen to compete with it, but especially since Skype was acquired by Microsoft, none have been able to topple it.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s any less of a data hog.
Skype’s Data Usage
Even though your data usage is going to be entirely subjective upon your own circumstances (location, device used, device settings, and more), we do have a few baseline measurements that we can use to determine how much data Skype is going to chew through with each of its features.
Note: There is no way to predict the exact amount of data that Skype will use for a particular task. The following information is based on testimony, Skype’s own minimum requirements, and the research and opinions of data experts.
We can look to Skype’s website if we want detailed information. Barring the above disclaimer, it will give you a baseline understanding of how much data will be consumed during regular activities within the app. It’s also going to require a bit of math, so if you’re allergic, hang on tight.
Each type of call that you can make through Skype has a listed minimum and recommended download and upload speed in order for it to work successfully. Since we’re concerned more with the bare minimum that these features use–with the expectation that the ceiling for their data consumption is significantly higher–that is what we will focus on in the following data.
- Audio Calling recommends 30 kbps down (download) and 30 kbps up (upload).
- Video Calling recommends 128 kbps down and 128 kbps up.
- Video Calling (High Quality) recommends 400 kbps down and 400 kbps up.
- Video Calling (HD) recommends 1.2 Mbps down and 1.2 Mbps up (significantly higher!)
- Group Video Calling ranges from 512 kbps down for 3 people, to 4Mbps for 7 or more people, with a constant upload speed of 128 kbps no matter what.
Now, a few things to keep in mind as we examine this data. First, let’s take a look at some basic conversion rates, for our calculations. 1000 kilobits is the equivalent of 1 megabit. 1000 megabits is the equivalent of 1 gigabit. None of these should be confused with Bytes, which are spelled almost identically. They even measure the same thing but reflect very different values.
In an effort to be concise, we can pretty firmly say that Bytes (KiloBytes, MegaBytes, GigaBytes) are used to measure fixed amounts of computer data, like what you’d find on a hard drive. Internet speeds–while also measuring computer data–fluctuate far more easily, and are therefore usually measured in bits.
As we can see from the information put out by wireless providers, most data plans are measured in Bytes, rather than bits. This means that you’ll need to do some basic calculations to understand how much of your data plan your services are using. We’re keeping things simple, so if you want to convert your bits into Bytes, simply multiply. Here is a guide that further breaks down bit and Byte values, which will help you to better determine how these services will affect your data plan.
However, we can use the above values to easily measure how much data Skype is using, but only as a baseline. You must remember that any of Skype’s calling activities can potentially use more data than the minimum recommended amount. However, an example will help to provide some clarity.
Let’s say that you want to make a 10 minute HD video call to a single person. The minimum required download speed is 1.2 Mbps (1.2 Megabits per second.) There are 60 seconds in a minute, so we can multiply that number by 60, first, which tells us that the HD call will use 72 Megabits per minute. We can then multiply that by 10, in order to see that the total 10-minute call will use 720 Megabits of data. Remember that this does not equate to 720 MegaBytes of data, which will be a considerably smaller number after you follow the conversion table linked above.
However, using this basic information and some simple math, you can most certainly determine the minimum amount of data that your Skype activities are going to consume, with the possibility of them using more than the minimum when the internet connection is fast enough to do so. If you’re using Skype on a desktop or laptop computer, you can additionally find out more information by using viewing the technical reports from each of your calls.
If you’re on a tight data budget, the above information can help you to know how to configure your Skype app to best suit your requirements. Though you should always keep an eye on your own data usage, the process described in our guide and the minimum data requirements listed on the Skype website will give you an idea of how much data will be used by each of the app’s features. Happy calling, dear readers, and if you have any questions about Skype or data usage within the app, let us know in the comments section!