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What is Buffering and Why Does it Happen?

Posted on March 24, 2022 in Streaming

We all hate that moment when the little spinning circle appears on screen. The series we were binge-watching or the game we were playing suddenly stops. Only to start again. Only to stop again. You know something isn’t right but what is causing it?

Buffering is where a certain amount of data is downloaded before it can be played back. Maybe you remember seeing messages on Windows Media Player that said, ‘buffering 80% complete’?

It simply means that 80% of what is needed before being able to play has been downloaded. Once it hits 100% the media plays. In effect, as you play, or watch, the next segment of data is being buffered, enabling (hopefully) a smooth playback.

If though, your internet connection is a little weak or too slow, the amount of data buffered may be reached before the next part is downloaded. With hyperfast broadband you never have that concern.

Why can buffering take so long?

Sometimes you may not even notice it. The buffered data always being just enough ahead to allow for seamless viewing. Other times, you’ll reach the end of the buffered data and the next segment has only reached 40%. You then must wait for it to catch up. Frustrating right?

There are some buffering issues that you may be able to fix with a few quick alterations. Others will be much more technical and be the provider’s responsibility. Let’s look at both and see what can be done to get you back to gaming or binge-watching.

Slow internet

Slow internet is one of the most common issues that causes frequent buffering and, sometimes, it is not the fault of the provider. Check the condition of your router and its location. The distance between a router and the device it serves can lead to slower speeds.


There are no doubt a load of devices in your house that need the internet. How many are in use right now? Go on, count them. The higher the number of devices in use the more the bandwidth is being stretched. If the bandwidth has reached its maximum, you are going to get a bit of a delay in enjoying your media.

HD quality TV

You just needed to see that show a little clearer, didn’t you. The problem is though, HD quality gives that bandwidth a little more trouble than standard definition. As it contains more data per frame, larger segments need to be downloaded in advance of playing. This could lead to buffering when trying to watch a film or your favourite TV show.

Old devices

If you haven’t upgraded your tech in a few years, there can be the possibility that it won’t be able to handle the speeds provided by your internet provider. This could lead to the data not being processed fast enough and you not being able to complete the task you wanted.

Buffering issues caused by your network

So above we picked out a few things that you might be able to do but about buffering. But what happens when you have tried them all?

Service provider issues

If there is a technical fault with your provider, there is not much you can do. They are likely to be fully aware and will be working to fix it. The fault could be terminal, meaning you cannot use it at all until repaired. It could be intermittent where you get a much slower service and it drops out before briefly restoring only to go again. When this is the issue – report it to them but also be aware that there are potentially more reliable hyper fast broadband providers available.

TCP connection

Have you heard of a TCP connection? It works with the IP to maintain a connection between server and user. It checks that all the packets of data are processed and received in the right order. If this connection breaks, data cannot flow properly and your connection will be lost.

Can I improve buffering speed?

Depending on the cause, yes. If it is a user-based issue there are a few things you can do. If it is from the supplier side, then unfortunately you can’t do anything.

  • Bandwidth – Either upgrade to a better internet package or consider changing suppliers.
  • Slow speeds-If you have an ethernet cable and the distance between router and device isn’t too far. Connect a cable. It provides a more consistent stream of data.
  • Device issues – If your computer is old, close some open tabs. If you only have one tab open and everything is still slow. Consider an alternate browser.

At Digital Home we can provide up to 900mbps with our hyper fast broadband. It not only eliminates buffering, but it means more of you can be connected, for longer.

Use our postcode checker to see if we can get some incredibly reliable broadband into your home. Contact us today for a demo and see how Digital Home can transform how you use the internet.

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