There are certain things you can do to improve the quality and consistency of your video streaming when you’re online. The main factors are obviously the speed and the strength of the Internet connection that you have, but with that being said there are still a few steps that you can take to reduce the buffering time and have better streaming, even on high-quality video sites like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu.
1. Limit Other Tasks
When you’re streaming something, the best thing to do is to close all other unnecessary tasks going on, such as program downloads or other open tabs in your browser. If you’ve got anything else running (even if it’s just in the background), like Skype, Steam, or Spotify, you should close them all during streaming. If you have downloads going on, whether you’re using your computer or your phone, pause them or wait for them to finish before you start watching.
2. Stream During Times of Low Activity
If you’re sharing your Internet connection with others, your streaming quality will suffer, especially if others are streaming or downloading at the same time. If you can, stream your video during times when others aren’t on the network. You should also be aware of streaming times in your region, because Internet speed can be slower for an entire area, not just a home network. If you’re using your Internet connection for other computers, phones, or tablets, this connection will be slowed down to manage all the devices.
3. Look at Internet Speed
Look at your internet speed and compare it to the approximate download speed (calculated in megabits per second) that you’ve purchased from your Internet Service Provider. If the speed test shows that you’re always nowhere near the purchased speed, you should follow up with your provider. If your speed is close to what’s advertised, the issue is probably on your end, not theirs. At this point, John Larkin, a tech writer, says that “you should reset your router. This process, known as power-cycling, will clear the network cache and restore the network to default settings. You’ll have to re-add all your connected devices to the network but it should significantly increase the speed.”
4. Run Necessary Updates
You should also update the application or item that’s streaming, regardless of the device it’s on. If you don’t have the latest update installed, your streaming speed will suffer. Before you stream, check to make sure that it’s up to date with the latest software. If you’re streaming on an older device, it may not be able to get the latest update, so this step may not be possible for everyone.
5. Keep the Lines of Connection Clear
Whether you’re using a wireless connection or an Ethernet cable, you need to keep the lines clear. If you’re wireless, you should try to have a line of sight between the router and your device, or at least have no solid items or electrical devices in between that will affect the speed. According to Lola Thurston, a lifestyle blogger, “if you’re using an ethernet cable, you’re more likely to get a strong physical connection and avoid obstacles, but your cable should be shielded so you’re not damaging the cable.”
6. Change the Channel
If you can, use the router’s 5 GHz channel instead of the 2.4 GHz channel – this is possible if you have a dual-band router. If you use the 5.0 channel, you’ll be limiting your shared connections because most devices connect to the 2.4 channel. You should know, however, that although 5.0 channels are faster Wi-Fi networks, their range is shorter than 2.4 channels, so you have to be physically closer to the router when streaming.
7. Modify the Streaming Quality
Change the quality of the stream on your device or application. This means you may have to settle for a lower quality stream, but it may be your only option. On your video player or streaming service, look at the settings and adjust it from HD or 720p down to SD or 480 and lower.
By following these steps, your video streaming quality should get much better. Bear in mind that there’s only so much you can do if you’re connected to a really weak signal.
Ellie Coverdale is a travel blogger. She enjoys sharing her lifestyle and technology tips with her readers, and focuses most of her articles on tech developments and how they can improve daily lives. In her free time, she is also a teacher.