Roku's remote control is the key to its new bandwidth saver

Roku Ultra remote

Source: CordCutters (Image credit: CordCutters)

Data caps enforced by your Internet Service Provider are a serious pain. We live in a world in which app updates can reach hundreds of megabytes. OS updates can be several gigabytes. And data-intensive 4K video isn't getting any less popular.

And monthly bandwidth caps are still a thing.

It's not unusual — at least here in the United States — to see artificial 1-terabyte caps placed on your monthly usage. Not like there's a finite amount of data to be used out there, or anything.

Anyway. Roku knows this and has a new feature to help out a little. Roku OS 9.2 adds a new "bandwidth saver" feature. That's actually kind of a misnomer — it's more of a data saver in that it'll stop whatever's streaming if, after 4 hours, nobody has touched the remote control. That'll be less of a problem for things like Netflix (which has a home menu to go back to) than it will for the live-streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu Live.

But the point is taken. If nobody's watching, no sense in potentially "wasting" data — and possibly causing you to go over your monthly allowance. (There's another side-effect in that this may give Roku more accurate numbers about how much people are watching, though I wouldn't expect its quarterly reported streaming hours — which were up 72 percent year over year in Q2 2019 — to decline anytime soon.)

Roku Bandwidth Saver

The new "bandwidth saver" is turned on by default in Roku OS 9.2. Here's the fine print on what it does:

If you haven't used the remote in 4 hours, a message will display asking you if you're still watching. If there is no response the channel will stop streaming and save your network bandwidth.

And that's that.

To turn off the "bandwidth saver" setting (though we're not really sure why you'd want to) go to Settings -> Network -> Bandwidth saver and uncheck the box. Do note that this works both on Roku players and Roku TV, though the latter also has its own power scheme that can shut off the entire television if nobody's watching.