The past few years have witnessed a dramatic increase in the viewership of streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu. The prime reasons for their popularity and preference over cable and satellite are the freedom and convenience they offer to the consumer. The user gets to choose the features, functions, and content they wish to watch and can conveniently enjoy it at the time, place, and device of their choice (smartphone, tablet, computer, TV, streaming media players, etc).
However, online streaming is not perfect. The main issue with it is overloaded Wi-Fi networks/channels. This leads to several other problems such as media lags, content playing slowly, and videos failing to load. If you are a frequent streamer, you can try out the following ways to enhance your streaming experience.
If you have multiple internet connectivity-dependent devices in your household, they can cause problems when you’re trying to watch a service. Smart devices may be low power but when used in abundance they can significantly strain internet bandwidth. So if you’re facing problems streaming on your laptop or TV, check out what the other devices in your house are up to. Is your partner watching another service on a different device or are they torrenting? Is a smart device running unnecessarily and consuming all your bandwidth? If so, it means they are affecting the performance of your service and need to be turned off immediately.
2. Update Your Streaming Item
Whether it’s a smart TV that you’re on, a console, or a phone, your streaming item must be updated. However, there are some limitations to this rule; if you’re using an old device such as a Windows laptop that’s about 3 to 4 years old, it may not be capable of handling an operating system update. Similarly, if you’re streaming through apps such as Hulu or Netflix, make sure you’re using their latest versions.
3. Forgo Wi-Fi In Favor of Ethernet
Use Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi. This is because Wi-Fi networks can slow down your media even if you buy faster modems and network extenders. The reason is that when devices are connected to a router wirelessly, they are not able to receive data as quickly as those that are connected through an Ethernet cable. If you don’t have an Ethernet cable, a 20 MB/s router would only be able to deliver half the speed to your device thereby forcing media players to downgrade the quality of the video you’re streaming. This tip is best for those who stream on computers (as most cell phones don’t support Ethernet unless you use an adapter).
4. Use Router’s 5 GHz Channel Instead of 2.4 GHz
If you have a ‘dual-band’ model router, you would have two channels: 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz. Since the former is used more commonly, it has more traffic; so consider using 5.0 GHz.
When you connect to most routers, they’d provide you with two options of Wi-Fi networks. The 5.0 channel’s name is typically written as a variation of the regular Wi-Fi network name. Connect to it to enjoy faster Wi-Fi. However, bear in mind that while 5.0 offers faster speed, it does not have a wider range. So you’ll need to place your router close to the device.
5. Disable Hardware Acceleration
Hardware acceleration can lead to issues such as slow streams and pixelated graphics. When you disable hardware acceleration, your device would allow the applications to select hardware requirements instead of using the universal settings of your computer. This would significantly improve the quality of your video stream.
To disable this feature, go to the control panel, then head over to the display section and click ‘disable hardware acceleration.” But remember to enable it back when you’re done (else it could affect other video-intensive programs on the system).
To cater to the increasing streaming demands, companies such as Charter Spectrum have also come up with their own streaming services (Spectrum TV Essentials).