How to Optimize Windows Media Player Video Streaming

Fix buffering problems in WMP that cause videos to stutter and freeze

What to Know

  • Switch to Library view and select Tools > Options > Performance. Select Buffer and set it to 10 seconds. Select Apply > OK.
  • Disable UDP: Go to Options > Network and uncheck the RTSP/UDP setting. Select Apply > OK.
  • Have internet issues? Go to Options > Player and turn on Connect to the Internet (Overrides Other Commands).

If you see choppy video playback or constant buffering while streaming video from websites, your Windows Media Player (WMP) installation might need a bit of tweaking. Instructions in this article apply to Windows Media Player 12 on Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7.

Perform an Internet Connection Speed Test

For this, you can use a free service such as to test just how fast your internet connection really is. Ideally, you'll want your broadband/cable speed to be:

  • 3 Mbps or higher for standard definition (SD) video streaming.
  • 5 Mbps or higher to stream high-definition (HD) video (720p+).

Once you've done this test, look at the download speed result to see if your connection is fast enough to stream video. If you are getting at least 3 Mbps, hen tweaking Windows Media Player is the next step.

Tweaking Windows Media Player to Optimize Video Streaming Performance

In the following steps, we'll show you which settings in WMP to adjust to improve playback when watching video streams from websites.

  1. Switch to library view mode if not already displayed.

    You can hold down the CTRL key and press 1 to access Library view.

    Windows Media Player in Library view
  2. Select Tools and choose Options.

    If you don't see the main menu bar at the top of WMP's screen, it has probably been disabled. To toggle the menu display, hold down the CTRL key and press M. Alternatively, hold down the ALT key and press T to display the tools menu. You can then press the letter 'O' key to get to the settings menu.

    Options under the Tools menu in Windows Media Player
  3. On the options screen, select the Performance tab.

    The Performance tab in Options
  4. Select the radio button next to Buffer in the Network Buffering section.

    The Buffer setting in Options
  5. The default setting is 5 seconds. Type "10" in the box to increase it.

    Using too much buffer time (step 4) can impact WMP and overall system performance, so it's wise to change the buffer value in small increments until you've got satisfactory video streaming.

    The manual buffer setting in Options
  6. Select the Apply button and then OK to finish.

    The Apply button

Other Ways to Improve Video Streaming Playback

If you find that video playback still isn't ideal, then there are further tweaks you can do to try and improve this. These are:

Disable UDP Protocol

Some home routers that use NAT don't forward UDP packets correctly. This can result in buffer looping, freezing, etc. To combat this, you can disable UDP in Windows Media Player. To do this:

  1. Go to WMP's Options menu and click the Network tab.

    The Network tab in options
  2. In the protocols section, clear the RTSP/UDP setting.

    RTSP/UDP option
  3. Select Apply and then OK to save.

Tweak WMP's Connection to The Internet

If you are having streaming problems that seem to be related to your Internet connection, then try the following:

  1. Go to WMP's options menu and select the Player tab.

    The Player tab in the Options menu
  2. In the Player Settings section, make sure that the Connect to the Internet (Overrides Other Commands) option is enabled.

    The "Connect to the internet" option in Player settings
  3. Select Apply and then OK to finish.

Only enable this feature if you're having Internet connection problems. This is because enabling this setting will keep certain WMP services connected to the Internet all the time, rather than just when WMP is used.

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