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What could beat a nice relaxing night at home watching Netflix? Buffering. Beat it into the ground, that is.
Nothing is more frustrating than every single person in your house streaming at the exact same time! Bandwidth is precious and finite, and your hots for Simon Bassett don’t have time for you kids to figure out that Season 5 of Sherlock is never happening. He’s part of the MCU now–no one ever comes back from the MCU alive (at least half anyway… oh snap!).
Anyway, back to buffering. Netflix buffering issues aren’t always solved with the speedy provider subscriptions. There’s a lot we can handle at home, from streaming quality and connection speeds, down to the TV streaming service itself. Let’s see how you can stop your stream from buffering, and get back to beautiful, beautiful Mr. Bassett.
How Can I Improve Streaming Quality?
For starters, make sure that the internet you’re receiving is the internet you’re paying for. Slow internet isn’t always a marker of user error–some companies could be throttling bandwidth without realizing, even if you’re paying full price for service you’re not getting.
Run a test and check the numbers. If your numbers are lower than what you’re paying for, it might be your provider. Continue to follow these next steps just in case–but be aware that there might be some situations out of your control that might require a call to customer service.
Buy Better Service
This shouldn’t be your go to option, but if you know you’re paying a lower tier monthly subscription – it might be time to renegotiate your providers contract. Will faster internet stop buffering from happening? In most cases yes. But again, skim through this list to make sure it’s not user error.
Limit The Number of Devices
Bandwidth truly is a finite resource, and you only pay for so much of it. The more devices that are connected, the thinner the bandwidth is split.
Imagine having a pie. The whole pie is what’s allotted to you at any given moment. The more people that want pie–the smaller the individual pieces will end up being.
Bandwidth is similar, but has “priorities.” Some servers and hosts require larger bandwidth minimums than others. Live TV streaming services require immensely more bandwidth than regular streaming videos. Real time delivery just requires more than any other interaction.
Some routers are just old. Hardware ages, and so does software. Old routers are guilty of both. Sometimes the software language isn’t as modern as the devices that you’re using, and sometimes the actual hardware itself can get frail and start to break down.
Those old readings could result in your router’s crappy bandwidth–leading to your huge buffering issues.
Investing in better tech truly might solve your streaming problems. Consider spending a few extra bucks for a dual band router, as it provides a 5 GHz network with the extra bandwidth suitable for watching movies online. And then devices limited to simple things like email, browsing, and social media can use the router’s 2.4 GHz network freeing up the 5 GHz band for bulkier business.
Some higher-end routers even allow you to optimize connections and prioritize certain devices. Meaning mom gets all her original shows (well hello Mr. Basset). Dad get’s his full selection of TV channels including sports packages (yay heteronormativity). And you get to play cord cutters with the free trials for the kids (they really won’t notice a difference, tell ‘em it’s a new trend).
Check the Servers
These streaming titans are extremely well equipped to handle even the more doldrum days of quarantine. But even these monoliths have their limits. Sometimes these servers hit their limits and, when overloaded, lag out.
Take the HBO Max app. The app will work fine (apps are independent of servers, regardless of whether it’s an iOS or Android device), but the moment you start streaming, you’re making a request to a host to accommodate your bandwidth needs. If too many people make that same request simultaneously, the server short-circuits, leading to your HBO Max buffering issues.
Check your favorite streaming platforms social media to make sure they’re not scheduled for maintenance, or having an outage. Most services like Amazon Prime Video, or Sling (Orange, or Blue) will notify you directly when you access their software with a “push notification”.
Even TV’s (not just smart ones), are beholden to the distributors servers. Sometimes on air glitches happen, so before you start throwing things in the middle of the next Cowboys game asking, “why does my TV keep buffering!?” know that sometimes the actual provider is at fault.
Wired. Get hardwired. WiFi is an incredible invention, but it’s not without its downfalls. WiFi works on packet transfer (sending and receiving information), and sometimes proximity, overuse, and even weather can affect whether or not those full packets of information reach their destination in full, if successfully at all.
Using an ethernet cable to hardwire into your modem or router can get rid of the guesswork for your internet connection. Similar to the device prioritization mentioned earlier–a dedicated, wired connection tells the router, “this is the most important device.”
How To Avoid Buffering When Streaming Videos
Ultimately, asking “why does my streaming keep buffering?” isn’t as effective as asking, “WHERE is my streaming buffering?” By isolating where the problem is taking place, you’re more likely to stop buffering before it attacks.
Before we close out, another common question we’ll nip in the bud is, “how do I increase my bandwidth for streaming?”
It was mentioned briefly earlier, but bandwidth is set by your provider, not you. So if you took every step above and you’re helplessly still hip deep in hulu buffering issues, it might be time to call your provider and ask for an expansion of bandwidth. Some providers auto-throttle, so you just have to call and ask if you can have access to your full bandwidth (it’s a shady way of tricking people into buying more expensive packages).
Before you call customer service, make sure you have all your info in hand. Test Your Internet Speed. Make sure that the speed you’re getting, is the speed you’re paying for.
Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.