How to Fix Kodi Buffering Problems

Try these tips to get back to viewing

Kodi home screen

 Kodi

There are a couple typical reasons why Kodi keeps buffering: your internet connection or incorrect video cache settings in Kodi. Let's take a look to see which adjustments you can make so you can get watching again.

Internet Speed Needed For Streaming Video

If you’ve had problems with video performance, especially if you’re new to Kodi, you may not have a fast enough internet connection to accommodate your video viewing.

Netflix provides a handy guide that we'll use to figure out if you can even start watching reliably. Below is Netflix's recommended download speeds (in Megabits per second) for each video quality.

  • Required minimum connection: 0.5 Mbps
  • Minimum recommended connection: 1.5 Mbps
  • SD quality: 3.0 Mbps
  • HD quality: 5.0 Mbps
  • Ultra HD quality: 25 Mbps

Check Your Connection Speed

If you find your network connection lacking, besides upgrading your internet service, you may want to consider using an ethernet (wired) network connection versus a wireless one. A hardwired connection won't make your internet any faster; however, it will give you a more consistent connection and help eliminate any issues with your Wi-Fi. At a minimum, do some testing and troubleshooting of your wireless network to see if it fits the previously mentioned recommended speeds.

The easiest and quickest way to test your internet connection is through the handy website Speedtest. All you'll need to do is open your favorite browser to this site and click Go.

Go button on Speedtest website

The site tests both Download and Upload speeds. Once it's complete, you get results that also include your Ping.

Speedtest website results

Testing Your Internet Through Ares Wizard

  1. You can also use the 3rd party add-on Ares Wizard to test your internet speed. To do this, on the main screen click on More > Internet Speed Test > Start Test.

    Start Test button on Ares Wizard web page
  2. A pop-up dialog will show your speed test progression with the final results appearing in the previous screen. Compare this test to the recommended speeds above.

    Test results for Ares Wizard

Check for ISP Throttling

A lesser known issue that can cause buffering problems is from your ISP. If your ISP detects that you’re streaming too much data, they may slow down your network bandwidth. Using a VPN provider can help alleviate this by securely masking your activity on the network. Whether or not your video viewing is legal, It is highly recommended you use a VPN service. It’s a great security measure to help ensure your privacy.

Video Source Has Bandwidth Limits

Along the same lines as your own network being slow, most video streaming services have their own limits to how much bandwidth is used. If you find one particular source is consistently buffering, try another source. You may also want to see if there are any adjustments within the video source that could improve video streaming.

Add-ons themselves could also trigger buffering. If you’re using Exodus, try switching to Yoda. There are literally hundreds of different add-ons. Finding the right one with the best performance will just take some research and testing.

Adjust Video Cache Settings

While Kodi itself doesn’t have any settings you can manually adjust, there are some 3rd party add-ons you can install to give you performance adjustments. One of the most popular is Ares Wizard. Using Ares Wizard, we’ll show you how to make some performance tweaks to get rid of or improve your buffering issues.

  1. First, we’ll do some file housework by cleaning up thumbnails, packages, and cache. To do this go to Add-ons > Program add-ons, and click on Ares Wizard.

  2. Click Tweaks > Advanced Settings Wizard > Next.

    Next button on Ares Wizard web page
  3. You will get a report from Kodi on how much RAM you have for a video cache. Their suggestions usually work pretty well. Although you may have to repeat this until your video performance improves. 

  4. Click Generate Settings.

    Generate settings button for Ares Wizard
  5. This screen is where you can adjust your Video Cache Size. Typically, going with the recommended amount will be sufficient, but you can experiment with other sizes to see if the stuttering video stops. Once you’ve chosen your Buffer Mode, click Apply these settings.

    Apply these settings for Ares Wizard
  6. You should get a completion notification prompting for a Kodi restart.

Stuttering Video Or Lost Frames – Lower Powered Systems Only

While not exactly the same as buffering video, stuttering video can also be a product of performance issues. Kodi has some Expert settings that allow you to adjust the HQ scaling. HQ scaling is how Kodi improves the quality of lower resolution video streams. The default is typically at 20% but can be lowered to reduce the upscaling, thus decreasing the stuttering or lost frames.

  1. To change this setting, click Settings > Player Settings. Confirm at the bottom of the screen that you are in Expert mode. 

    Expert mode in Kodi Settings interface
  2. Under Processing, click on Enable HQ scalers for scaling above, then click the down arrow to get to 10%. You may have to try it at 0% if you still have stuttering video. Just note that this is how Kodi improves the quality of the video so while the stuttering may cease, the quality of the video may be less than desirable.

    Enable HQ scalers for scaling above button in Kodi Settings
  3. One last setting to check out is hardware acceleration. On slower systems, you can get some improvement by turning on\off this setting. What it does is use the CPU or the GPU for video processing. If your slower system isn’t able to keep up, try toggling it on. You can find this setting in the same area as the HQ scalers.

    Click Settings > Player Settings > Videos

  4. Click Allow hardware acceleration – DXVA2 to toggle off or on.

    Allow hardware acceleration – DXVA2 toggle in Kodi Settings

VPN Can Slow Things Down

As mentioned earlier, VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a great way to disguise your internet activity. It's also an excellent security tool for your home computer and network. By hiding your IP address to the outside world, it makes you less vulnerable to attackers. However, this great tool can cause some performance issues.

Because VPN is hiding your network activity, the very feature that enables anonymity can slow it down. VPN encrypts your network traffic which can slow things down, depending on which VPN software and provider you are using. It is best to research different VPN providers to see what users think about their services.

The easiest way to test if your VPN is slowing things down is to turn it off and try that stream again. The video buffering could just disappear.

Turning off your VPN will expose your activity to your ISP.