Why does streaming suck sometimes? What causes Netflix to freeze, skip, and buffer? Why does Hulu warn you about blocking ads when you didn't know there was an option to block in the first place? Many of these questions are answered by internet, computer, and streaming device failure that can be hard to understand because part of marketing means hiding the technical process to make the experience slim, streamline, and seemingly effortless.
Understanding Streaming Technology
Streaming is the answer to long downloads that stand between you and watching videos or listening to audio that you want right now.
The old standard of getting movies and music--which still exists for when streaming isn't working well--meant getting the entire file before you could open it and view or listen to what you wanted, while streaming gives your faster bursts of near-instant content. This is achieved by chopping up that big file and sending packets of the data in sizes that are fast enough to get from the streaming server to you without noticeable delay.
This means multiple packets will be flying to your network in rapid succession, all arriving before they need to play. The problem begins when these files are interrupted, which means your fast-paced deliver is interrupted. When an interruption happens, you see or hear it as a pause, skip, or other delays.
With large file downloading, an interruption simply means milliseconds added to the download speed--an amount of time that you may not notice unless you're staring at the download bar (please don't do that, it helps no one). More interruptions mean more wasted time with big downloads, but with streaming, your viewing experience will be ruined in real time.
Fixing Interruption Issues With Streaming Services
When it comes to troubleshooting streaming services, you don't have much that you can actually control--and in modern times, you shouldn't be getting too involved in troubleshooting. If you simply like learning more about tech, by all means, explore the system. Just don't try to make too many radical changes in the name of fixing things.
Start with your streaming device first. If it's a computer, make sure that your system isn't bogged down with other programs and that you have enough resources to play the streaming service. On Windows computers, this means going to the Task Manager and making sure that your RAM (Random Access Memory) and CPU (Central Processing Unit) performance levels aren't nearing 100%. Mac has a similar system called the Activity Monitor.
For streaming devices such as streaming television sets, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, Nvidia Shield, Roku, or Apple TV, there aren't many diagnostics to check. They either work or they don't, although some devices may overheat as new video standards come out. This means changing between 720p to 1080p HD (High Definition) video or going to 4K resolution video.
The devices actually have specifications showing which video types they support, and exceeding that quality level can lead to slow performance just like using a computer that's bogged down with too many programs or is simply too old. If your devices are the newest model or current for what you want to watch, just check the connection next.
If you're using wireless internet, restart the router and make sure no one else is doing any heavy downloading over your connection. If you need help booting people off, contact your Internet service provider. Try switching to a wired connection if applicable for testing.
Contact an internet television professional or company like Ramita Technologies Inc beyond internet performance to get a network test, and take control of your streaming situation.