What is Buffering and what can I do about it ??
This is a common question we get asked and there are a few things you can do to improve the condition, but first, let me explain what it is and what causes it.
These devices work by connecting to the transmitting server (aka source), and then caching a micro portion of video.. normally about 3 seconds.. an amount the courts have determined to be an “indiscernible fragment”
Once the cache fills, the video starts.. there then is a continuous flow of data (aka video) into the cache, your device plays the video out of the cache. It continually over writes the cache so that you don’t ever have a full copy (which would be illegal).
The video pauses, aka buffers, when the cache hits empty and it hasn’t been back filled.
This can be caused by 5 things..
#1) Your home network is not transferring data fast enough or stable enough from your modem to your device.
#2) Your ISP is not delivering data fast enough or stable enough to your modem.
#3) The backbone of the internet (the lines between your ISP host server and the Video host server) is not delivering data fast enough or stable enough between their data hubs.
#4) The ISP the sending server is using isn’t delivering data fast enough or stable enough.
#5.) The server itself is unable to encode and transmit data fast enough or stable enough.
So what causes these things and watch can be done about ?
#1.) Lets talk about your home network. This is the MOST common spot for a problem. People commonly don’t take care of their home network.. they don’t power cycle their home modem regularly, they don’t keep modem/router firmware updated, they don’t set up router properly to get off default channels or frequencies, they don’t position devices in house correctly, they don’t use Cat 6 Ethernet cords.. all of these things can slow you down.
Your modem and router are mini-computers, just like your device is, just like you phone is, just like your laptop. They must be POWER CYCLED frequently to stay in best working condition. The VERY FIRST THING you should so anytime you are buffering or experiencing poor device performance is a full system power cycle. That is unplugging your modem from power (not off, off isn’t sufficient, it has to be unplugged), unplugging router (if you have a stand alone router), unplugging your device. Then plug modem back in.. let it come all the way online (all the lights lite up solid, this normally takes about 5 minutes), then plug router back in (another 3 minutes) and let it come up.. then plug device back in. Many times, this will fix issue.
Other known issues.. Combo modem/router boxes from ATT/Comcast/Spectrum are junk.. dramatically reduced speeds via wifi on these devices (use Fast.com Speed Check on TheBoxx to check speed to your device). A stand alone, dual band, gaming/streaming router will help immensely with your home network. Your device is too far away from the router (use wifi analyzer from TheBoxx Apps to check signal strength). Conflicting network from a neighbor (use wifi analyzer to look). Modem is old or not Docis 3.0 or 3.1. Router is old (if its more then 2 years old, or not at least an AC1750 or better.. replace it). WiFi repeaters are junk for streaming, however MESH systems work very well and are worth the investment.
#2.) The next most common problem is your ISP isn’t delivering speed or thru put you need. Thru-put is the big one.. Many ISP’s will sell you a Speed, but in the fine print, you’ll learn that is a peak speed, not a common speed. Comcast/Xfinity pushes “blast” service.. but blast speeds are very short lived.. 90 to 120 seconds.. ie “a blast” of speed. Great for a 3 to 5 minute long Youtube Video or checking your email or bringing up your Facebook feed. Horrible for streaming.. streaming requires same speed over extended period of time (aka Thru-put). Nearly all of the ISP’s over sell capacity, and reserve the right (in fine print) to slow you down when their network gets congested. So you might have purchased 100 mbps, so did 30 of your neighbors. But the ISP can only deliver 1 gpbs, so if you and 9 neighbors are online at same time.. everyone is going to start getting slowed down. This is very apparent if you can stream great at 2am, but horrible at 7pm.. ISP’s have no incentive to fix these issues, most ISP’s are Cable TV companies also.. they don’t want you to have fast streaming Internet. You have to complain
#3.) The LEAST common problem and the one which you can’t do anything about is #3. I’m listing it first because its the easiest to check, if your ISP is down, you can learn about it quickly here and it’ll save you a lot of grief and frustration trying to fix something you can’t fix. So while its very uncommon that the backbone of the internet is on a slow down, it does occasionally happen. What happens more often, but still not very often, that the primary internal network hubs of your ISP is suffering a slow down. There are a couple of websites you can visit to see if any of these things are happening and if your ISP is involved..
#4 & #5) The issue that leaves all of us helpless is an overloaded sending server or a network slow down on the sending server side. There is nothing anyone can do about this, as all this content is hosted by 3rd parties and we are all at the mercy of their reliability.
However — what makes our service better, is we offer a wide array of sources. This means all our content does not come from one source. In fact, our Live TV comes from 5+ sources and our TV and Movies content comes from 50+ sources.. It is virtually impossible, like 99.999999% impossible that all the sources would be overloaded or experiencing a slow down at the exact same moment. This means, if one source (aka add-on) is struggling, with our service, you can switch to a different source/add-on. If you go from source to source and they are all slow, you aren’t experiencing source side problem, its going to be #1, #2 or #3.