Video streaming technology has improved over the last decade by leaps and bounds. With all the improvements in video quality and compression codecs, it won’t be long before physical media like DVDs and Bluray discs are a thing of the past.
However, even at this stage, online media streaming is not yet perfect, and sometimes videos streamed over the internet can suffer quality problems, such as video becoming blocky, skipping and even long pauses during playback. All these issues can be somewhat frustrating and after a while can be cause enough to give up on video streaming altogether and go back to the good old DVD or Bluray player.
Here are few things you can check if you are experiencing problems with your video streaming, that have relatively simple solutions:
1)Your internet connection is just not fast enough to download the video.
Live video streaming can be very demanding on your internet connection. The bandwidth used by video streaming is dependent on the video quality. For example, a Full HD 1080p video would require around 8-15Mbit of data transfer per second to stream. On the other hand, a 480p DVD quality stream would only need around 0.5-1.5 Mbit of data transfer per second. Obviously, if you’ve got a 5Mbit internet connection and you’re trying to watch a 1080p movie that needs 15Mbit/sec, it’s taking you 3 seconds to download 1 second’s worth of movie.
In order to compensate, your computer is either going to try to cope by dropping frames or pixels and just display what it gets (which will result in a blocky picture), or just stop playing the movie whenever it runs out of data, causing a lot of pauses while it tries to catch up. Test out the speed of your internet here, for a quick analysis of the speed of your connection.
A few quick and simple solutions to this:
- Talk to your ISP and try to upgrade your internet connection.
- Adapt the movie quality to what your line is capable of downloading:
If your internet connection just barely manages with the video quality you’re watching, another way to go would be to increase your movie download buffer. Some programs will let you download predetermined amounts of the movie (1 minute for example) before starting to play.
The program will then constantly continue downloading while the movie is playing, always trying to keep the buffer full.This gives a little wiggle room since action intense scenes will need more data than static ones. You can even increase the buffer to 10 minutes or more. The only downside to this is that you’ll have to wait for the buffer to initially download before you can start watching, which kind of defeats the purpose of streaming.
- Shorten your distance to the internet:Very often the computer or movie player being used to stream the video is not connected directly to the internet modem, but is rather connected wirelessly through a router. Even though you might have a very fast internet connection, the connection to the router may be slower for many reasons. Try to either connect directly to the modem or run an Ethernet cable to the router to eliminate speed loss.For an even better solution, check out Powerline Ethernet Adaptors. This enables you to get the same connectivity speeds as you would from a direct connection to your ethernet modem. Great for slow video streaming connections via home network wifi.
2) Outdated movie codecs
Video compression formats are constantly improving and being updated. If you’re trying to stream a video that uses a newer codec than is installed on your PC, your software may not alert you and might simply do its best to cope. This will often lead to choppy or blocky playback.
To solve this, simply download and install the latest video codecs. VLC Player is a standalone video player that has independent pre-installed codecs and is constantly updated. If you prefer using other players which depend on computer-installed codecs, try downloading the latest K-Lite codec or ffdshow.
3)Your PC just doesn’t have enough juice
Much like issues with the internet connection not keeping up with the video data, high definition video is very demanding in terms of processing power. If your computer isn’t strong enough, it simply won’t be able to spit out the frames fast enough, resulting in choppy playback.
The obvious solution to this is to upgrade your PC. Most basic computers nowadays are more than capable of running HD videos. If yours can’t, it’s very likely you’re overdue an upgrade. Upgrading just your video card can often also be a solution, as some cards have dedicated HD video processors for this very reason.
If an upgrade just isn’t an option for you, just like internet speed, lower the video quality. Lower quality = less work for your PC.
Most streaming media devices and/or TVs won’t have this problem, since they are created for streaming media.
As you can see, these are just a few of the problems and solutions for choppy or disrupted slow video streaming. If you’re having problems, hopefully these solutions will have helped.
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