81% of video-viewing occasions get all or most people’s attention (1). This means the more time a video buffers, it loses to power to sustain the users' attention, forcing them to close the tab or hop on to other videos. This could drastically affect the views your videos garner.

Unfortunately, most users experience video buffering at some point, although it is no mistake of the video publisher. However, some measures can be taken on either side to end all streaming woes.

This article will explain the various measures you can give your users to improve video buffering. Also, some measures can be taken at your end to ensure that you always deliver the best video experience to your viewers.

What is video streaming buffering?

Buffering pre-loads streaming data or any other media file while a user is watching the video. The buffered data gets stored as a temporary cache on the device before the stream starts. Imagine his buffered data to be similar to downloaded data. Once the stream begins, the buffered data allow users to stream the content without any interruptions.

Most video streaming services have buffering enabled on their platform to allow users to have an uninterrupted streaming experience. However, you need a good internet connection to load the buffered data before your stream.

What causes video buffering?

Buffering can happen because of multiple reasons. Mostly, these issues are either on the user or network sides. The network side refers to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the streaming platform.

There are three most common reasons that cause video buffering:

  1. Internet connectivity issues

Every network comes with a bandwidth limit or a maximum amount of data that can pass through once. This is often determined by the ISP based on the pricing plan that the user has chosen. When the bandwidth required to the stream the video exceeds the internet bandwidth provided, it won’t be able to download the video file while keeping pace with playback.

So to put it simply, if the viewer has a slow internet connection, it will definitely result in slow video buffering. Other reasons that could lead to buffering caused by connectivity include:

  • Technical problems with ISP, like having overload with traffic
  • Insufficient bandwidth to support high-quality video streaming
  • The router is outdated or damaged
  • Too many devices are connected to the same internet source at a time

2. User device-level issues

Quite often, the WiFi device used by the user could also lead to streaming issues. When a WiFi network slows down than usual, it may lead to slow video buffering. While all wireless routers are not the same, from a hardware point of view, most of them have a long life.

However, the technology used in the device might get outdated very soon. This means that using a router with outdated hardware or software could hinder smooth video streaming.

3. Heavy video files

If fixing all of the above-mentioned reasons isn’t fixing the buffering issue, then it could be due to the video file size. Heavy video files, both bulky in terms of file size and quality, could cause video buffering issues.

The file size of a video increases with the quality in which the user wants to consume it. For example, a 4K video file would be significantly bigger than a 720p one. Streaming heavy files is a surefire cause for video buffering.

Can video streaming buffering issues be resolved permanently?

At a user level, several reasons could their videos to get stuck in the vicious buffering loop. However, all hope is not lost.

Like every major problem, video buffering during streaming can be solved permanently. Here are some ways to do that.

  1. Connect Through Ethernet

Using an Ethernet cable like Cat 5, 5, or 6 is the most efficient way to connect a media streamer or any other compatible component to a router. This is primarily because an ethernet cable maintains the speed of the router’s capacities.

If the user is connected to the internet wirelessly (WiFi), there is a high probability of buffering issues. WiFi is prone to connectivity issues when there are physical obstructions or too many devices connected to the same network. So it’s always a good idea to use an ethernet connection to stop buffering issues while streaming online.

2. Close other applications and programs

If the system is performing many tasks or running several programs, it might not be capable of streaming videos smoothly without buffering. Even if the user is not using other programs but running in the background, they still consume system resources.

For instance, an application that is minimized and isn’t being used still might be using the internet for updates or downloading data in the background. So if your users are facing frequent buffering issues, ask them to try restarting the streaming after closing all the other applications.

3. Limit the number of device connections

As mentioned earlier, bandwidth limits can cause buffering issues. So suggest viewers free up their bandwidth as much as possible. Even if the other devices aren’t using the internet simultaneously, these devices are constantly pinging your wireless router. Even something like disconnecting inactive devices can improve streaming quality.

4. Update graphic drivers

If you want to stream videos in the highest quality possible, you must ensure that your hardware and its driver support are up to date. Companies like Intel, Nvidia, and AMD constantly modify and optimize graphic driver performances, leading to significant differences.

It is a good practice, in general, to use the latest version of both software and hardware if you want to have the best quality output.

5. Choose the right video streaming protocol

A video streaming protocol is the standardized delivery method for breaking up a video into chunks, delivering it to the viewers, and reassembling it. Some popular videos streaming protocols include HLS, MPEG-DASH, RTMP, WebRTC, etc. These protocols are the rules and methods used to turn video files into tiny pieces so they can be seamlessly sent to the viewers.

6. Clean up your browser settings

If it is not the internet connection or your device causing trouble, it could be your internet browser. Browsers maintain a local cache for websites you previously visited. When you revisit a website, the browser checks the cache; if the local content is stored, it loads from there only rather than downloading it. Over time, the browser can be overloaded with temporary and cached data that slows it down.
It is recommended to clear all the browsing data, which involves clearing cookies and wiping your browsing history. A streamlined browser works more efficiently and quickly, which in turn, reduces the buffering time.

How ImageKit can help your business overcome video streaming issues

Video is the new superpower businesses are trying to leverage to grow their brand awareness. If your business uses video streaming to reach your audience, it is necessary to address these buffering issues before they happen. ImageKit can help with that.

ImageKit offers a powerful video streaming API that will ensure your video gets delivered to all platforms, anywhere on the internet, without any buffering issues.
With ImageKit’s Adaptive Bitrate Streaming, you can stream videos in real-time without buffering issues.

Adaptive bitrate streaming, also known as adaptive streaming, is a technology that allows us to deliver videos in the most efficient way possible- no matter the connection, software, or device. This, in turn, will stream the video in the highest usable quality possible.

Further, video buffering issues are rampant when videos are steamed to multiple geographies that are far from your server. Using a video CDN can solve this problem. A CDN (Content Delivery Network) delivers content from the website to users in various geographies quickly, securely, and efficiently. ImageKit’s video CDN reduces latency and fastens the buffering process so your viewers can stream content without interruptions.

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(1) Video-viewing attention statistics - Think with Google