If you’re wondering why Netflix keeps buffering every time you try to watch something, you might want to look at prevention. The best way to deal with constant buffering is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Fortunately, this is a problem that has many solutions.
Plan your streaming for non-peak hours. You may not realize it, but the internet has a rush hour. According to the FCC, internet usage peaks from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. More people are actively using the internet during this time than any other.
This can put a major strain on an ISP’s network, which in turn trickles down to you in the form of slower overall speeds as the provider tries to balance bandwidth and keep everyone’s connection running as smoothly as possible. Planning your streaming time outside this rush hour can go a long way toward minimizing issues.
Upgrade your router. Not all wireless routers are created equal, and while they generally last a long time, the technology they use can become outdated quickly. If your router is more than a couple years old, it’s a good idea to check its specs and make sure it can support the internet speed you’re paying for. If you have HughesNet or Viasat satellite internet, you will probably be using a modem/router combo provided by your ISP. But if it hasn’t been updated in more than three years, contact HughesNet or Viasat to see if you can get a newer model.
Connect your streaming devices using Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi. If possible, connecting your streaming device directly to your modem and bypassing Wi-Fi entirely is a sure way to get more out of your connection. Even the fastest Wi-Fi networks are vulnerable to interference and signal loss from traveling through the air and objects in your home. An Ethernet connection avoids these problems.
Move your router closer to where you stream. If an Ethernet connection isn’t possible, try moving your router closer to your living room (or whatever room you do most of your streaming in). This can reduce signal loss and interference, resulting in a stronger, faster Wi-Fi connection.
Keep your devices updated. We know it seems like a nuisance, but letting your devices update their software when the prompt pops up helps ensure they’re as secure and functional as possible. Many times these updates include bug fixes or other improvements that can increase performance and may cut down on streaming problems. The same goes for your apps. And remember: updates aren’t just for computers. If you have a TV that’s connected to the internet or a gaming system you stream through, these need periodic updates too. To update your smart TV, use your remote to go to Settings > Support. If there’s a software update shown, click update.
Upgrade your internet service. Finally, if you’ve tried the other suggestions and nothing is helping, you can always spring for a faster internet connection. More speed may be enough to power through other issues and get your streaming up to speed. To give you an idea of what you need, Netflix recommends a minimum of 5 Mbps per HD stream and 25 Mbps for 4K.
Get satellite TV if you live in a rural area. If your internet can’t keep up with streaming demands, it’s time to spring for satellite TV service. With satellite TV, you won’t have to deal with buffering pauses. There are three satellite TV providers to choose from: DIRECTV, DISH, and Orby TV.
Get a TV antenna. As an alternative to getting satellite TV service, you can also get free live TV with an over-the-air antenna. Live TV doesn’t require an internet connection (goodbye buffering!) or use up any precious internet data.