How to Stop Video Buffering

by Jeff Grundy
Many Internet videos require a sustained download rate of between 38 and 50 Kbps to play smoothly.

Many Internet videos require a sustained download rate of between 38 and 50 Kbps to play smoothly.

Sites such as MetaCafe, Vimeo and YouTube offer millions of entertaining and instructional videos you can watch on the Internet. Be it a music video from your favorite artist or lesson on how to create new dishes in the kitchen, you can find a video on just about any subject or topic imaginable. When loading a video in your Web browser, though, you may find that the video takes a while to start playing. This is because the browser must cache, or preload, some video data before it can start playing. The process of caching video data is known as buffering. Some buffering at the beginning of a video is normal. However, if the video player stops and starts frequently due to buffering, you can try several approaches to make the video load faster and play more smoothly.

Basic Computer Tweaks

Close any applications that may be using up bandwidth in the background. If Internet videos are starting and stopping too frequently, the problem could be the result of other programs sending or receiving information over the Internet. Therefore, close any email, chat or sharing applications open on the computer. When closing the applications, ensure that you actually exit them and don’t simply minimize them to the Quick Launch tray. If a program's icon appears in the taskbar near the time and date setting, it is still active. To close it completely, right-click the icon and select "Close" or "Exit."

Decrease the buffering time in your video player application. For example, if you use Windows Media Player to play Internet videos, you can reduce the number of seconds of playable video that the application preloads and stores in its buffer. By default, Windows Media Player preloads about 10 to 20 seconds of video before it starts playing. When it plays video stored in the buffer, the programs stops playback if it has not yet downloaded the required buffer amount. If you are on a slower Internet connection, you may be able to reduce buffering -- and the stopping and starting of playback it causes -- by reducing the buffer time to a value of five to 10 seconds. To access the buffer settings option in Windows Media Player, press the "Alt" key to display the menu bar, then click "Tools | Options | Performance | Buffer." Enter a lower time in seconds in the "Buffer" box and then click "OK."

Exit and restart your browser. Load the Web page with the video and press "Play" in the player window.

Disable Video Hardware Acceleration

Click "Start | Control Panel | Appearance and Personalization | Display | Change Display Settings." A Properties window for your monitor and video card or graphics adapter appears.

Double-click the Troubleshoot tab in the Properties windows for your video hardware.

Use your mouse to move the Hardware Acceleration slider control from "Full" to "None." Click the "Apply" button, then "OK."

Delete Cache or Temporary Internet Files

Free up cache space on your hard drive to help improve video performance and reduce buffering. To do this, open your Web browser and delete all cache files or temporary Internet files. You can access the cache settings in Firefox by clicking "Tools," then "Clear Recent History." Click the checkbox next to "Cache" to place a check mark in it and click "Clear Now."

Delete temporary Internet files in Internet Explorer. Click the "Gear" icon in the Internet Explorer window, then click "Internet Options." In the Internet Options window, click the "Delete" button under Browsing History, then click "OK."

Delete the browser cache in Google Chrome by first clicking the "Menu" icon on the toolbar. The Menu has three horizontal lines on its face. Click "Tools," then choose "Clear Browsing Data." After the dialog box appears, enable the "Cache" option and click "Clear Browsing Data."


  • The surest way to reduce or eliminate video buffering is to upgrade to a faster Internet connection. Using the above steps can help reduce buffering somewhat, but video performance on the Internet will always be only as fast as the maximum bandwidth of your connection.
  • If you connect to your router or broadband modem via a Wi-Fi connection, you can probably reduce buffering by using a wired connection rather than a wireless one. Wired connections offer more stable connections that don’t fluctuate as much as do wireless network links. While wireless connections may sometimes be faster than wired connections, variations in signal strength can cause sustained bandwidth rates to be much lower than connections made with a standard RJ-45 Ethernet cable. If you are using a cable or DSL connection and experiencing many buffer problems, connecting the computer to the router or modem with an Ethernet cable may resolve them.
  • If all else fails, load the video page in the browser window and press "Pause" after the movie starts to play. Allow the video player in the browser to preload several minutes of video before pressing "Play." The more video you allow to preload, the fewer times the clip will stop and start during playback.

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images