Jerky video playback or slow buffering can ruin the enjoyment of using Netflix, YouTube or BBC iPlayer. But you don't have to put up with video streaming problems - there are plenty of solutions to try.
Below, we explain some of the top ways to solve common video streaming issues, plus things to look out for that could be causing your slowdown.
1. Is your internet slow?
One of the main reasons for video streaming problems is slow internet. To watch Netflix in high definition, you'll need a minimum speed of 5Mbps (megabits per second).
If you're paying for these speeds, then it's worth checking that you are indeed getting them. We recommend testing your internet connection speed using our free speed checker tool. If you're not getting the speeds you should be, there are some fixes you can attempt. If all else fails, it's worth complaining to your internet service provider.
- Test your internet speed - use our free speed checker tool
- Simple tips for fixing slow broadband - try these fixes for a speed boost
- Complain to your broadband provider - use our free complaints tool
2. Who else is online?
Video streaming can suffer if you have a lot of people on your home connection all using the internet at once. If you're trying to watch iPlayer on your TV screen while your other half is busily downloading files and your kids are playing online games on their tablets, some slowdown is inevitable.
If this situation sounds common for your household, you could risk a fallout by getting others to put their devices down for a bit. It may be better to look into upgrading your internet account to a higher speed one, or a fibre connection if it's available in your area. Read our reviews of the best broadband providers.
3. Swap browsers or use apps
If you're watching BBC iPlayer, Netflix, or similar in a web browser and encountering problems, then it can help to swap browsers or use a dedicated app.
For instance, if you'r finding that playback is jerky within Internet Explorer, give it a go in Chrome or Firefox to see if this improves things.
Keep your browser up to date
Make sure your browser is up-to-date, too - head to the settings menu and check for any updates, then install them and restart your browser.
Watch out for extensions
Browser extensions can create slowdown on web pages, including for video streaming services. For instance, if you use an ad blocking extension, try disabling it then reloading your browser to see if this makes your video streaming improves.
Use a streaming app
Video streaming can work more smoothly within an app than it may in a browser. For tablets and smartphones, it's always best to use the dedicated iPlayer, Netflix or Amazon Prime apps. You can install these apps for Windows 10 PCs, too, using the Windows app store.
4. Let your video buffer
For a simple fix, pause your video playback and let the buffering make some progress before you click 'play' again. For instance, in YouTube, press pause so that the red line stops moving forward. Watch to check that the grey line keeps moving. When it's made some progress, press play again to see if this improves the playback.
5. Drop the video quality
High definition video is a joy to any of us who lived through the scratchy old VHS days (or earlier!), but it puts a heavy load on our internet connection. If you're finding that your video streaming is too jerky when playing back in HD, head to the settings and take it down a notch.
This doesn't have to mean putting up with pixellated visuals - for instance, in YouTube, you can drop the quality from 1080p HD (maximum) to 720p HD, a lower form of HD that still looks sharp.
6. Check for viruses
A virus on your computer can cause serious slowdown, especially if it's sending information to the internet, or using your computer as a base to spread itself further. Jerky video could be symptomatic of a virus infection.
Conduct a thorough scan of your computer using antivirus software to make sure there's nothing creating mischief on your device.
Block viruses and stop them in their tracks - read our Which? reviews of the best antivirus software.