How to improve streaming video quality and speed



There's nothing worse than a video buffering right as the plot thickens. Improving streaming video quality and speed may not be entirely within your control, but there are still a number of options to attempt.

 

Choppy Playback

If you find your streaming video will play at an acceptable speed for a few minutes or seconds, but then pauses to buffer continuously, this may be an issue with your computer. There are three possible solutions for this problem.
  • Begin by turning off "Hardware Acceleration," an option available in the Control Panel under Settings and Advanced. In the Troubleshoot tab drag the slider completely to the left. If you are using a Macintosh computer there is no automatic Hardware Acceleration, so this option is not available to you. Hardware Acceleration is meant to cause all running programs to use the same universal setting. By turning this option off you will enable each program to run as it wishes.
  • Another option is to turn off "Video Acceleration." Again, this option is only for Windows-based users, not Apple computers. In the Windows Media Player click on the Tools menu, click on Options, select Performance, and move the Video Acceleration Slider to "None." Windows Media Player have this option automatically switched on to set a universal setting for all streaming video or audio, just as Hardware Acceleration sets the settings for all media streaming programs.

  • The third option for Windows based computers is to adjust your Windows Desktop Visual Effects, which will allow more resources for your media player. In the control panel choose System, then Display. Under the Advanced tab choose Performance, then Settings, then Visual Effects. Here choose "Adjust for best performance," causing all other options to be unchecked.
On a Mac there are no automatic settings for streaming video. Choppy playback on Apple computers generally result from not updating your software (click the Apple in your upper left corner, then Software Update) or from not having a new version of Flash. Flash can be downloaded here: http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/.

 

Slow or Constant Buffering

If your computer is constantly buffering or takes an abnormally long amount of time to buffer videos, there are a few options.
  • The first is to adjust your buffer settings. Once again, this option is only available for those using Windows Media Player. In the Windows Media Player choose the View menu, then Options, then the Advanced tab, then Streaming Media. Click Change to alter the buffer settings — the higher you set the buffer, the more of the clip will need to be loaded. If you force Windows Media Player to wait until most of the clip is loaded before playing, you should not cause any buffering to occur while watching but it will take longer for the clip to play.
  • The second option is to check your internet speed. There are a number of free, browser-based applications that will do this — simply do a quick search. If your internet is too slow, videos will have trouble loading, especially if they are longer or of higher quality. You should also make sure that you have Quicktime installed, as many streaming video sites only support this format.
These tips are sure to help improve your streaming quality and speed. If not, it may be time for an upgrade.


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