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What exactly is buffering? Buffering is a process by which extra data, known as a “buffer,” is temporarily stored in your computer’s memory while moving from one place to another. 

If your internet connection is strong enough to handle the amount of data you’re streaming, the video buffer blends right in, and you won’t notice any lag. But if your connection is slow or unstable, buffering issues will cause your video to stop streaming until enough data has built up in the buffer to prevent your stream from lagging.

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    Thankfully, there are steps you can take if your videos keep buffering. From quick tricks to longer-term solutions, read on for our run-down of all things streaming.

    How to stop buffering instantly

    Finding an instant fix for buffering problems can seem like a headache at first. But — here’s the secret — it isn't! Our comprehensive list of troubleshooting techniques details how to stop buffering when streaming online.

    First, try pausing the stream

    To jump-start a compromised connection, try pausing your stream for a few minutes. Since internet speed is a common culprit in buffering issues, pressing pause on your online stream, even for just a few minutes, gives your system a chance to rebuild its “buffer” and resume streaming normally. And it gives you a little time to refill your popcorn.

    Try pausing the stream for a few minutes to build up its buffer.

    Reduce video quality

    Unsurprisingly, larger files take longer to download. If you’re struggling with buffering interruptions in the middle of a particularly long movie (looking at you, Titanic), the fix is easy. Simply reduce the size of the video file

    You can do this yourself by reducing your image resolution. Specifically, you can lower an HD video to a more standard resolution, which will lower the data load and help increase your streaming speed considerably. 

    Many popular streaming services, like Youtube and Netflix, let you easily control your video resolution manually. To do so, go to your streaming platform’s Settings and select your preferred video-resolution standard.

    The YouTube quality selector allows you to choose 1080p, 720p, 480p and lower to try to stop buffering.

    Close other applications and remove connected devices

    Your computer is a multi-tasking master. But the more actions it tries to complete (or inputs it tries to execute) at one time, the less energy it has to devote to each. In other words, your system can’t stream as effectively when it’s juggling other apps and programs. 

    Even inactive applications can continue to run in the background, hogging your computer’s resources. These background processes can obstruct your streaming speeds and slow down your computer. If you find yourself in a buffering battle, try closing or getting rid of unnecessary programs to lower your system’s load. 

    Of course, this is often easier said than done, because some apps will continue to run without you realizing it. A cleaning and optimization tool like AVG TuneUp will shut down or hibernate unnecessary apps and programs to make sure you get the most of your PC’s power. 

    AVG TuneUp features patented Sleep Mode technology that identifies resource-hungry programs — those that exert excessive stress on startup or even a bundle of clunky background processes — and puts them to rest until you’re ready to use them. The result? You get more power for your streaming.

    Connected devices can also clog up your streaming highways. Since WiFi-dependent machines — smartphones, laptops, IoT devices — still communicate with your wireless router, even if they’re not being used they can still lead to buffering issues. Try disconnecting your unused devices to free up a little bandwidth.

    Switch to a wired internet connection

    WiFi is great for mobile communication, but compared to a wired connection, there’s simply no contest. If your high-speed internet is working properly, but you’re still experiencing streaming lags, try using an ethernet or other wired networking connection to increase speeds.

    An ethernet cable connects directly to your router, guaranteeing a stable connection. But note that not all cords are made equal. Depending on your computer’s equipment, you might need to invest in adapters or additional cables.

    Test your VPN (if you’re using one)

    Though it’s certainly a top-notch privacy tool, a virtual private network (VPN) all but guarantees a slower stream. A VPN is a two-way filter for funneling information. Every packet of data it receives is encrypted, and must then be decrypted by way of a separate server. 

    Unsurprisingly, VPNs can get congested, especially during peak hours. That affects not only the rate of data transfer, but also your PC’s performance. If you want to see how your PC measures up, you can test your computer’s performance prior to surfing. 

    If you do use a VPN, it’s important to regularly update its settings to make sure your VPN connection speed remains as fast as possible. Old or outdated VPNs are vulnerable to overcrowding, which can lead to lag and other performance problems. Your VPN may have been built to protect you, but that doesn’t mean it should bog you down in the process.

    AVG Secure VPN protects your privacy without slowing you down.A top-of-the-line VPN like AVG Secure VPN offers fast speeds for easy streaming.

    If a clunky VPN is killing your streaming vibe, switch to AVG Secure VPN to get a better stream — and enjoy military-grade encryption in the process. With more than 50 streaming locations around the world to choose from, AVG Secure VPN will not only give you an airtight connection, it will also let you access all the content you could ever want.

    Still buffering? You might need a longer-term fix

    If you’ve unplugged and updated every possible connection and you still find yourself trapped in endless buffering loops, iit might be time for a more permanent solution. So if you need to make a real change — and stop buffering when streaming for good — here’s what you need to get going.

    Update your graphics and card drivers

    If your graphics system is under heavy stress — maybe you’re a movie buff or your PC gaming machine needs some tuning up — then it might be time to update your drivers. Well-known tech companies like Intel and AMD regularly revamp their systems, which can significantly impact product performance. If you’re running outdated drivers, your system probably isn’t functioning as well as it could — and this also affects streaming.

    Updating your drivers reduces crashes, freezes, and bluescreens, and generally makes your PC run much more smoothly. From fixing WiFi issues to serving up crisper images while streaming, updated drivers make sure that everything works as it should. But searching for driver updates and manually installing them can be a real pain. To save time, automate the process with AVG Driver Updater. Automatically find and replace drivers and enjoy faster streaming instantly.

    Upgrade your internet connection

    If a cable connection still isn’t curing your buffering woes, it might be time to go directly to the source of your internet — your router. A router reboot can often fix a buggy connection. Simply unplug your router, count slowly to ten, and then plug it back in. 

    For more troubleshooting tips, see our guide on how to strengthen your WiFi signal. If the problem persists, check the manufacturer’s website for your router to see if any updates have been made available.

    If you’ve tried all the tips described above and your streams are still getting caught in obnoxious buffering cycles, you might need to consider a more involved solution. If this is the case, contact your internet provider, because it might be time to upgrade your network.

    Why do my videos keep buffering, anyway?

    While the cause of a single buffering snag can be hard to pinpoint, buffering problems almost always signal insufficient internet bandwidth. In other words, the data for your video file isn’t downloading fast enough to match the uninterrupted playback that streaming demands. 

    When you can’t download enough data to keep your video playing smoothly, the stream stops to wait for more data to download and build a bigger buffer. Buffering can be caused by a number of factors, including: 

    • A slow or unstable internet connection.

    • Lack of available bandwidth.

    • An outdated browser or graphics card.

    • A content provider overrun with too many data requests. 

    Though rare, the last bullet on that list is a real possibility. When particularly popular streaming platforms — Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, etc. — reach excessive viewer capacity, their streaming services may be compromised. They’re simply too jammed up with streaming requests to keep up the pace. If that happens, there isn’t much you can do besides wait for the platform to catch up with all the content requests. 

    But other buffering problems can originate with your device. That’s why it’s important to keep your systems updated and minimize data-hogging background processes. A clean device and a stable network can go a long way to helping you beat the buffering blues and speed up your streaming times significantly.

    Don’t let your VPN add to buffering times

    While it’s true that some VPNs can slow down your streaming speed, that doesn’t mean yours has to. AVG Secure VPN features a multi-socket connection to hook up as many as five devices at once, ensuring flexible and ultra-fast connection speeds. 

    Choose from servers in more than 50 locations around the world and start streaming all your favorite shows without restrictions or buffering. And with military-grade encryption, you can rest assured that your data is always safe from prying eyes. Try AVG Secure VPN today and enjoy all of the security and none of the sacrifice.

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    Get fast streaming and unblock content with AVG Secure VPN

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