How To Fix It When Netflix Keeps Buffering

Getting to the bottom of this frustrating Netflix issue

Netflix buffering issues manifest in a few different ways, including:

  • A video that pauses momentarily while you’re watching.
  • The appearance of a red circular icon in the center of the Netflix video player.
  • White dots moving in a circular pattern in the Netflix video player.

What Does Buffering Look Like?

You may see a frozen image when Netflix starts buffering, or the Netflix video player may display a black screen. While Netflix buffers, you’ll typically see the light gray timeline at the bottom of the player slowly turn a darker shade of gray from left to right. You may also see a number count up in the center of the player. The number may reset to zero or fail to reach 100 percent.

Under normal circumstances, you can wait for the video to buffer and then watch without interruption, even if your internet connection is slow. If the bar doesn’t change for a while, that means Netflix isn’t buffering, or it’s buffering too slow to do any good.

Why Does Netflix Keep Buffering?

If you experience repeated buffering interruptions when trying to watch a video, there may be a problem with your home network, your internet connection, your computer or streaming device, or Netflix itself. You can fix some of these issues yourself, but you won’t be able to do anything if your internet service provider or Netflix itself is experiencing a problem.

How To Fix it When Netflix Keeps Buffering

This issue applies to Netflix across a wide variety of platforms, including the web player that you can use in a web browser on your computer, the Netflix app on phones and tablets, and the Netflix app on streaming devices and video game consoles. 

To fix your Netflix buffering problem, follow these troubleshooting tips:

  1. Restart your web browser. If you’re viewing Netflix on a computer with a web browser, try closing and reopening the browser. If your browser is due for an update, you may also need to download and install it.

    If you’re watching on a phone or streaming device, try closing the app or restarting the device instead.

  2. Check your internet connection. If your internet connection is too slow, or there are too many people using it at once, you may not have enough bandwidth to stream Netflix.

    Netflix recommends:

    1. 0.5 Mbps: Minimum speed, may experience unavoidable buffering.
    2. 1.5 Mbps: Minimum recommended speed.
    3. 3.0 Mbps: Minimum speed for SD video.
    4. 5.0 Mbps: Minimum speed for HD video.
    5. 25 Mbps: Minimum speed for UHD video.
  3. Restart your router and modem. If your internet connection speed is sluggish, then restarting your router and modem may fix the problem. If it doesn’t, then contact your internet service provider to make sure you’re receiving the service level you’re paying for.

  4. Restart your computer. If restarting your network didn’t help, then fully restarting your computer or other streaming devices may help. Download and install any operating system or app updates that are available at this time.

  5. Try lowering your stream quality. Netflix automatically determines the best video quality for your internet speed by default, but it may try streaming at an unsustainable level of quality if your speed fluctuates.

    To lower your Netflix stream quality:

    1. Access your account via the Netflix website or app.
    2. Navigate to Profile & parental controls > your profile > playback settings > change.
    3. Change the data usable per-screen from auto to low or medium.
  6. Try streaming from a different source. If you subscribe to any other streaming services, check to see if they also buffer. If they do, then suspect a problem with your internet connection. If they don’t, then there’s an issue with Netflix specifically.

  7. Try a different device. If you’re streaming Netflix in a web browser on your computer, try the phone app. If that isn’t an option, try a different web browser. In some cases, just changing to a different web browser will fix the problem.

  8. Connect your computer directly to your modem. If you have a separate modem and router, try connecting your computer to the modem with an ethernet cable. If that fixes the problem, then your router is causing the issue. The issue could be with your Wi-Fi network, or the router itself may be malfunctioning.

    If you have many devices connected to your router, and they’re all in use, your router may not be able to handle it. Consider upgrading your router to a model that can handle more devices.

  9. Improve your Wi-Fi signal. If connecting directly to the modem fixes your buffering problem, consider repositioning your wireless router or streaming device. Remove any obstructions that you can, and try to provide as direct a line of sight as possible.

  10. Adjust your Netflix buffering rate. If it seems like there’s a problem with Netflix and no problem with your internet, try adjusting the Netflix buffering rate.

    While a video is playing on:

    • Windows PC: Press shift+alt+left click.
    • macOS: Press shift+option+click.
    • Game console: Press up > up > down > down > left > right > left > right > up > up > up on the controller or remote.

    Once you have brought up the hidden buffering rate menu, adjust the buffering rate and attempt to watch your video.

    Lowering the rate will cause videos to load more slowly, but they will be less likely to pause for buffering while you’re watching.

  11. Contact your internet service provider or Netflix. If Netflix still suffers from buffering problems, and you've ruled out a service outage, problems with your local network, and problems with your device or app, there is probably an issue that you can't fix yourself. Contact your internet service provider to find out if they are having connectivity problems. If that doesn't work, contact Netflix to report the issue.

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