Signing up for high-speed internet can be promising, especially when you’re expecting the new season of your favorite TV show to start or when you plan to play the latest version of a trending game.
However, you may still see those spinning circles on your screen, and your show or game freezes despite the fast internet connection.
What is the cause of slow buffering?
How can you solve it?
That’s what we’re going to talk about in this article.
Read on to learn more about the causes and fixes of this issue.
I Have High-Speed Internet But Slow Buffering (Causes, Fixes)
Even when you’ve purchased superfast internet, you still can experience slow buffering for a number of reasons, which we’ll discuss below.
1. Network Management Settings
Although it may not appear that way, there are a lot of configurations involved in delivering internet packets to your computer.
If those configurations aren’t optimal, you might run into the buffering issue despite having high-speed internet.
Here are a few things to check.
A. Change Your QoS Settings
QoS refers to the quality-of-service component found almost on all routers.
It lets you control how your internet connection prioritizes certain types of data.
By optimizing your QoS settings, you can ensure that streaming data is always the first type of data that accesses the available bandwidth, improving your streaming experience.
You can find its settings in the router’s web interface if it does have QoS.
B. Limit The Number Of The Connected Devices
Today, it’s not uncommon to find several devices connected to the internet in every house.
If you have too many devices connected to a single network, it can be overwhelming for your device because each device consumes a certain amount of the internet bandwidth, leaving little capacity for your device.
Smartwatches, doorbells, smart lighting, speakers, tablets, etc. can all consume a certain amount of internet and limit the available bandwidth for your primary device, preventing you from streaming videos and games.
Check out the number of devices connected to your internet network and temporarily disable or limit them, or switch to another internet plan with more bandwidth.
One simple method for checking the connected devices is to log in to your router’s web interface and check on the network map.
The interface lets you view a list of connected devices and disable the ones you don’t need.
Another way to get rid of unused devices is to change the Wi-Fi password and manually reconnect all devices that must access the wireless network.
C. Delay Bandwidth-Consuming Activities
Even with high-speed internet, if the network is used for other activities like downloading big files or updating devices simultaneously, your streaming will be slow and interrupted.
A simple solution for this issue is to delay big downloads or uploads to another time when fewer people (or devices) are connected to the Wi-Fi and provide more network for your streaming platform.
You can also upgrade your internet plan.
However, if that’s not possible for you, another great way to improve your buffering speed is to create two networks at home with specified bandwidth—one to be used by the family or guests and one dedicated for your personal use.
D. Use Ethernet, Not WI-FI
If you use a Wi-Fi connection, slow buffering can always happen despite a high-speed internet connection.
Wireless devices connected to a router are generally less efficient in receiving data than those connected via ethernet cables.
Yes, you may not be able to use the ethernet cable for your smartphone or most tablets, but you still can connect your computer or laptop to the router with these cables and get much better connectivity and speed for buffering.
2. Weak Wi-Fi Signals
Weak signals are one of the main reasons for slow internet speed and hence slow buffering.
Here are a few suggestions to try.
A. Stay Within Range
Wi-Fi routers just send the wireless signals within a definite range, and outside of this range, your device won’t be able to connect to the internet and start streaming, even if it’s a high-speed internet package.
The router’s signal spreads like an umbrella, which means you should try to stay within the range of this umbrella to receive strong enough signals for fast buffering.
In addition to the distance, your walls and even the microwaves can interfere with Wi-Fi signals, make them weak, and lead to frequent disconnection and slow buffering of data.
You can recognize such signal interference issues when your Wi-Fi connection works well near the router, but it gets super slow in the next room.
If your space is too large and your router can’t provide strong signals to all areas, you can solve the issue by replacing it with a long-range router or installing a Wi-Fi extender.
A Wi-Fi extender will strengthen the range of your Wi-Fi connection and allow you to receive signals in every corner of the house.
B. Check The Router’s Location
Many people hide their Wi-Fi router somewhere out of sight, like behind some decorative item on a shelf, so as not to ruin the look of the place.
However, you must know that objects can impede connection between your device and the Wi-Fi router, so it’s recommended to keep clutter away from the router as much as possible—especially if you’re using a traditional router and not a mesh network.
3. High Latency
Latency means the time it takes data to travel from your device to the destination and back.
When you have high latency, it’ll take a long time (at least a few seconds) for your clicks and commands to take effect, which can be highly frustrating, especially when you’re playing games or videos.
The latency issue is hard to solve because it depends on factors like your physical distance from internet servers, network congestion (between you and the servers), and your internet provider’s infrastructure.
Your type of internet can also have an effect on latency.
For instance, satellite internet has high latency because your data must travel to space and back.
However, newer internet types, such as 5G and fiber, have much lower latency due to faster data transmission.
4. Sluggish Or Outdated Devices
If you have a high-speed connection and still experience slow buffering, the problem may be with the device you’re using.
Electronic devices like PCs, tablets, gaming consoles, and smartphones can become outdated after a while and unable to process the latest Wi-Fi speeds we have today.
For example, a device that supports speeds up to 150 Mbps can’t process speeds beyond that, and its actual speed can also decrease based on the router it connects to.
In such cases, if you can’t replace your current device with a new one, power cycling can be helpful.
Power cycling helps your router get rid of any junk file in its memory, refreshes the connection, and removes unnecessary processes and temporary files.
An overworked processor can also slow down the internet speed, and a quick power cycle, which shuts it down for 30 seconds, can refresh it and enhance its performance.
Some of the other factors that can slow down your devices include:
- Outdated software
- Outdated drivers
- Operating system updates aren’t installed, and it needs to reboot
- Excessive open applications
- Excessive open browser tabs
- Patch and app downloads
To solve the above list of issues, avoid putting too much pressure on your device’s CPU by closing unnecessary browser tabs and applications.
Also, keep your operating system up to date by allowing auto-updates and keep your antivirus up to date.
5. Bandwidth Caps And Throttling
Your internet service provider (ISP) can throttle the speed and slow it down for some reason.
For example, when your internet consumption goes beyond the data cap, or there’s too much congestion in your network.
Providers can also slow down your internet connection if they suspect that your activities are potentially illegal or if they want to generally prevent you from a specific type of activity (such as torrenting).
If you want to know whether you’ve been throttled or not, run a regular speed test and then repeat the test using a VPN.
If your internet speed improves with the VPN, you can be sure that you’re throttled!
6. Change Wi-Fi Bands And Channels
Wi-Fi frequency channels are meant to facilitate data transmission.
However, like any network that processes lots of information, these channels can get crowded and slow down your internet connection.
Several iOS and Android apps are available for analyzing network channels, such as NetSpot for Windows or even the Network Diagnostic function on a Mac.
To change your Wi-Fi channel, you must log in to your router’s web interface and select the best channel among the available options.
Most routers have two to three Wi-Fi bands, and each creates its visible Wi-Fi network and is usually labeled with its frequency band.
These bands work on two frequencies: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
While the 2.4 GHz band has a better range, it’s slower, and signals from other electronics can easily interfere with its signal.
To the contrary, the 5 GHz frequency band is way faster, but its signals can’t travel very far away.
It’s a good idea to use the 5 GHz band for most of your internet activities that require a lot of bandwidth, such as streaming and gaming.
In contrast, you should connect your other devices that don’t need such a high speed, like smart home devices, to the 2.4 GHz band.
7. Your Maximum Internet Speed
We all know that internet speed is measured in Mbps (megabits per second), but it doesn’t mean the actual time that data takes for a round trip to the website and back, which is latency, as we said.
It refers to the total bandwidth available with your internet connection.
Internet providers usually use this concept for advertising their internet speed and telling people that it can reach up to a certain Mbps.
What happens, in reality, is a bit different.
While you may have paid for a 400 Mbps connection, your internet’s actual speed will be less due to hardware issues between the ISP’s operator and your physical internet connection (like the utility connection and buried cable).
In this case, there’s nothing you can do to receive the maximum bandwidth you’re paying for.
You can only hope that the provider keeps his promise and at least gives you a decent speed.
8. Using The Internet During The Peak Hours
During some hours, your internet bandwidth gets overwhelmed by heavy data usage, which leads to slow internet speed and buffering.
One solution to this is to schedule your heavy downloads—like an OS update or 100 GB update for an Xbox game—for when you’re less likely to be streaming or need high speed.
The early hours of the day are ideal for such downloads because everyone is asleep, and no other download is consuming your bandwidth.
Moreover, to avoid slow buffering issues during some peak hours, you can download your content earlier in the day or even at midnight.
This way, you’ll be able to binge-watch all your favorite series without any interruption.
What Is Buffering?
Buffering refers to preloading some amount of data in a reserved memory area.
In simpler terms, a certain amount of data gets downloaded before a movie or music file (or even the game) starts to play.
This buffered data is stored in the temporary cache (or RAM) of a device before it starts to stream.
You can think of a buffer as data downloaded ahead of time used to ensure that your viewing experience doesn’t get interrupted due to fluctuations in internet bandwidth.
It allows the users to watch, listen, or play the streaming media without disruption.
While almost all streaming services have enabled buffering on their platforms, you should have a decent internet connection for the buffered data to be loaded before the stream.
Whenever your internet connection gets too slow, the video can’t play until enough data is downloaded.
You’ll usually see a rotating circle on your screen which indicates that the video is being buffered.
Buffering isn’t always stable, and it changes with the internet speed, so the faster your internet, the better buffering you’ll have.