How to Reduce Your Idle Chromecast’s Data Usage

Do you have a Chromecast? Do you know how much data it’s using? Since we most commonly use it for streaming video, we understand it uses a lot. But, did you know that even when it’s sitting idle, it’s still using data? Sometimes up to 15 GB per month! Where is it all coming from? And how can you reduce data usage?

During the times when a Chromecast is sitting idle, it downloads high definition images for the backdrop. That can be up to 15 GB of data every month. These are beautiful pictures, but if you don’t have unlimited download data, are they worth the gigabytes?


If you have unlimited data, then it’s probably not a big deal, but if you have a limit, this article will show how to stop it or significantly reduce it.

Why does it use data?

When you set up your Chromecast, you see that it plugs into your HDMI port and a power outlet. You must have power for the Chromecast to work. You also notice that it does not have a power switch. It’s always running unless you unplug it.

So your Chromecast is always on and downloading data. It downloads whether you are watching it or not. And it is downloading backdrops.

These options will help you set up your Chromecast to avoid the extra data usage.

Plug in to USB

One way to stop it from downloading this data is a little trick with your television’s USB ports. If you have them, instead of plugging the Chromecast into the wall, plug its USB into a USB outlet instead. Now the power for the Chromecast is coming from the television and will power off with your TV.


To test to make sure the Chromecast actually turned off:

1. Turn off the television.

2. Open Google Home on your phone.

3. Tap the device’s icon in the top-right corner and check the list of active devices to see if the Chromecast appears.

4. If your Chromecast isn’t listed, then it turned off with the television. If it’s still listed, then this method won’t work for your device.

Create a solid color background for Chromecast

If using the USB trick doesn’t work for you, use solid-color small images that use very little data on your backdrop.

1. Open Microsoft Paint (or any image editor) on your computer. Find it in the Windows accessories folder.


2. Color the background of the image in any color you want by first choosing the color and clicking on the fill tool (the little bucket in the tools section of the toolbar).


3. Move the bucket over the screen and click to fill it with that color.

4. Click “Resize” (found in the image section of the toolbar).

5. Change the size to measure in pixels.


6. Make the picture 16px horizontal and 9px vertical. You will need to uncheck the maintain aspect ratio button.

7. Save it to the desktop or pictures. I saved mine with the name of the color I used.


8. Create a new picture by clicking “File -> new” and repeat the process.

9. Log into your Google Photos account on your computer.

10. Click Upload.


11. Once the pictures have uploaded, click on “Add to Album.” If you don’t have a folder specifically for your Chromecast Backdrop, create one here.


12. Next, go to the Google Home app on your Android device.

13. Tap the Device icon in the top-right corner.


14. Tap the three vertical dots in the top corner of the picture.


15. Select “Backdrop settings.”


16. Turn off all the content choices except Google photos. Leave the weather on if you want. It doesn’t use very much data.

17. Tap Google Photos and clear all the checkboxes except for your Chromecast Images folder.


18. Go back one screen to the Backdrop settings and set the custom speed to slow. It will switch between only those two photos.


Your Chromecast will no longer download any of the images it was spending data on before.

Use smaller images

One last way to reduce the data usage, but maybe not as drastically as just using one-color backdrops, is to upload images of your own choosing and save them in the Chromecast folder in your Google Photos. It’s possible to further reduce the size of the pictures you want to display by making them a smaller size.

There are many different apps compatible with a Chromecast, so enjoy it. Just remember that you have control over some of the things you may not be entirely happy with, including data usage.

Image credit: Stunned

Tracey Rosenberger
Tracey Rosenberger

Tracey Rosenberger spent 26 years teaching elementary students, using technology to enhance learning. Now she's excited to share helpful technology with teachers and everyone else who sees tech as intimidating.

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