Why Do Streaming Videos Stop, Stutter and Buffer?

May 10, 2018Articles, How To

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Why do videos buffer?

Dad watching video on the internet with young children.

You love to watch videos on the Internet, but you hate it when they constantly buffer?  This can be a frustrating problem to have, especially when it seems to be an inconsistent issue that is difficult to diagnose.   There are a number of different things that can cause videos to play inconsistently. This article will help you understand different factors that can cause videos to stutter and what you might be able to do to resolve these issues.

Content Providers

Streaming content providers such as YouTube, Netflix and Hulu push out the most demanding content on the Internet: streaming HD video content.  These videos are stored on their servers and delivered to your computer or tablet when you try and watch the video.  If the providers are getting more requests to watch videos than they can handle, this could delay the transfer of the video to your screen.  This will cause the video to pause or buffer until enough of it can download for you to view.
All you can really do, if this is causing your video to slow down, is wait until a time when requests to the content provider have slowed down and try to play the video again.  Sometimes this just means waiting a few minutes.

In a 2014 study by they FCC, research indicated that the peak time for Internet traffic is between the hours of 7pm and 11 pm at night.  Therefore, this would be when it could be most problematic to watch Internet videos.

Internet Speed

Since video files are typically large, they do require more Internet speed or bandwidth at any given time to display the video properly on your device without interruption.  Each content provider has recommended minimum speeds to view their content.  Failures to meet these minimum requirements will likely cause videos to be poor quality or have frequent stops and starts.
Minimum recommended download speeds:
YouTube – 500 kbps or .5 Mbps

  • .5 Mbps – minimum requirement
  • 1.5 Mbps – recommended broadband connection speed
  • 3.0 Mbps – recommended for DVD quality
  • 5.0 Mbps – recommended for HD quality
  • 25 Mbps – recommended for Ultra HD

Hulu – 3 Mbps minimum recommended 

It is important to remember that these recommended guidelines are for one device at any given time.  In today’s households it is common to have several devices connected to the Internet at a time.

If you have one member of the household that wants to watch an HD Netflix video on a TV, another member wants to watch a YouTube video on their phone, and another household member that wants to play online video games on their gaming system, this would require a lot of bandwidth to accommodate the Internet usage.  Finding the appropriate speed to match your household’s Internet usage habits will give you the best Internet experience.

Your Home Network

Another element is your wireless router.  Many home routers are only meant to handle a couple devices at a time and can get quickly overloaded if a family full of people connects all of their smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops and smart TV’s to one router.  What you can do is make sure that you have a router that is equipped to handle a heavy traffic load if you are in a household that consumes a lot of data.

You should also make sure to secure your wireless router to prevent anyone from outside your household from accessing your network.  This will just subtract from the available bandwidth that you have to watch videos from your own connection.

Your Computeryour home computer

One aspect that is often overlooked is the activity that happens on your Internet connected device.  Watching videos over the Internet uses computing resources.  Therefore, if you have a lot of programs running in the background of your system, this could cause some issues with your video playing properly.
If you are having problems playing video, another good practice would be to close out any web pages and programs that you are not using.  You should also make sure that any applicable web plugins, such as Java and Adobe Flash player, are updated to their latest versions.
Removing junk files and keeping your computer virus and spyware free will also help your videos download and play more smoothly.  Malicious software can cause problems with your Internet browser or Internet connection and consequently make it more difficult to view some web content.  It is recommended that you have your computer routinely checked for viruses even if you have an anti-virus program on your system.

The Next Steps

If you are still having trouble watching videos, there are a few things that you can do to minimize the effect of the stuttering.

  1. With some video providers you can start the video, pause it and wait.  This will allow the video to download a little way ahead of time so that you can let it catch up and watch for a longer un-interrupted period.
  2. You can also reduce the quality of the video.  This will decrease the bandwidth demand and increase the likelihood that the video will not stutter during playback.
  3. Another optional approach would be downloading the entire video first before playing it.  This may take longer, but it would likely ensure that you would be able watch the entire video without interruption.

Let Nuvera Help You!

  • Have our TechTeam complete a computer tune up to make sure your system is virus free and has all of the latest updates.  We can also secure your wireless router and check to make sure that your computer meets the requirements necessary to watch streaming videos.
  • Contact a Sales and Support representative to evaluate your Internet speed and see if you are eligible to upgrade to a higher speed for your Internet service.