How To Reduce Video Skips and Buffering
There are few things more frustrating than having to wait while a video pauses in mid-view to buffer.
While most people intuitively recognize that the process of delivering video to your browser is a complex one, most are totally unaware that these factors change drastically from one second to the next, taking you literally from a snail's pace to lightning fast from one second to the next. For example, in the last 10 seconds my video viewing speed has ranged from a turtle can beat 371 kbps (kilobytes per second)to a nice 2003 kbps with an average number in the 600-900 range.
Want to see your speed right now? Go to http://www.youtube.com/my_speed#, drop down below the graphs (which we'll talk about in another post), and click the Show Test Video link.
There you'll see a graph showing a series of numbers on top of a video. The key numbers to watch are the ones labeled Streaming HTTP and XXX dropped. Those two numbers show the variability of your video streaming process. Watch those numbers for a minute or two.
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So, how can you improve your ability to watch streaming videos without having them pause to buffer?
Some factors, like distance to the computer where the video is located, aren't under your control, but other factors are.
Here are some things you can do to improve your download speeds:
- Remove multi-tasking on your internet line – if three other people in your house are trying to download music, watch videos and talk on their VOIP phones while you're trying to watch a video, everyone's speed will be significantly reduced.
- Turn off auto-pinging of internet services, like email, chat services, and other services that automatically access online data.
- Remove VOIP and move your phone to cell or landline services because VOIP services utilize your Internet bandwidth to operate.
- Upgrade your bandwidth with your ISP. Many ISP's are now offering tiered service levels, allowing you to pay more for higher bandwidth, rather than just upgrading their entire network. It's amazing how much faster speed you can buy for just a few extra dollars per month. You also may find that you can get significantly better bandwidth by shifting to a totally different ISP for your service.
- Shift your video viewing to less popular times. Weekends are horrible, nights are oftentimes not much better, because millions of other people are off work, watching video and gamining online. If you can shift your video viewing times to less popular hours (during normal working hours, during the late-night hours, etc.) you're likely to see cleaner lines and have a better viewing experience.
- When given an option, choose to access videos from a server that is closer to you than farther away. As much as I admire the technical infrastructure in some foreign countries, when faced with a choice, I'll watch a video hosted in Omaha versus one hosted from Oslo any day.
- If online speed is mission critical to your work, consider getting an additional Internet line just for your mission-critical tasks. The relatively small increase in costs may well be justified in higher productivity and decreased frustration.
- Finally, if online speed is mission critical to your work, you may even want to consider moving to a different location that gets you closer to the backbone of the Internet, or at least one that gives you multiple different internet access options. Trust me, I ran an Internet marketing business for 6 years on a 19.2 baud line, and faster is definitely better!
Enjoy your improved connection!