Why does my device buffer? Troubleshooting techniques for all devices
This article covers the Amazon Firestick, Fire cube, any and all Fire Devices.
A Firestick can be a great device when they are used for what they are intended for which is the Amazon platform. Fire devices especially the Firesticks are low powered, compact devices that do not have the storage space or processor speed capable for live streaming IPTV applications. They aren't always capable of top download speeds that you need for other applications outside of the Amazon platform. So, this can lead to frequent and extended issues. This can ruin the users experience. With this said, they are compatible with many other applications including IPTV applications, however it's always best to invest in a device with enough operating speed and memory to handle these applications.
The 1st and most common problem to look at would be... drum roll.... please... BUFFERING! You know what I'm talking about. Your sitting there FINALLY able to watch your favorite TV show or the big game and BAM! That dreaded freezing on your TV screen. You know you want to start yelling and throwing things, but that won't help. So, you sit there, patiently waiting... and waiting. The little circle on your TV screen just keeps spinning, Finally, the stream starts working again. A few moments later it freezes again. Yep, that's buffering for you.
Well, what is buffering?
When you stream on a device it downloads a section of content and stores it as temporary cache. While you’re watching that section of video content another section of content is being downloaded a head of time, and then you are able to watch the next section. If everything loads properly it will produce a buffering-free experience. Ultimately, buffering is caused by video content ending before new content can be loaded. The Fire Stick will pause the video while it’s downloading the rest of the content in an effort to update the content that you are streaming. Also, your internet speed and Wi-Fi signal play a big role as well. We'll get to that in just minute.
Now that we understand why buffering happens, let's look at addressing some of the causes of buffering and how to help minimize it. I did not say eliminate it as this is impossible. Buffering issues on the Amazon Fire Stick Device are very common. It can be easy to troubleshoot, but they are not always caused by the same source.
Check your Internet speed
Many users try to skip out on upgrading their internet speed. If you are going to stream you need fast internet. Streaming video content takes a good amount of bandwidth and if your Internet speed isn't up to par, then your Fire Stick is likely to buffer. This occurs when your broadband connection is too slow to stream a video in real time. You can contact your Internet provider and ask how many Mbps your download speed is. It is recommended to have at least 25 Mbps or higher if you want a reliable streaming experience, however do keep in mind your using a device that is not recommended for streaming on other platforms besides Amazon. I would recommend much faster speeds if you insist on using a fire device.
How can I test my speed?
You can install an Internet Speed checking app, such as fast.com. You need to test the Internet speed specifically on your Fire Stick as it is connected by Wi-Fi only. Do not test at the router, or on other devices such as your laptop or phone. It doesn’t matter if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) provides 10 Mbps to the router, devices connected to the WiFi in your home are using bandwidth and can cause variation to the internet speed you're actually receiving from your provider. So, you can see how 10 Mbps can turn to 5 Mbps or lower very quickly.
Wi-Fi signal strength
Your Amazon Fire Stick device needs to be connected properly to your Wi-Fi router showing a good signal strength. You can check this by going to Settings on your Fire Stick and selecting Network. Your next screen will display your wireless connection. Verify that your device is Connected to your network. On the right side, your signal strength is shown. Your signal strength needs to be Excellent or Very Good. If it shows fair or poor you will encounter issues. You can also press the pause/play button on your Fire Stick remote and your screen will display:
Connected to Wi-Fi (this will show a check mark out to the left if you are in fact connected).
Signal Strength: Your strength will either be Excellent, Very Good, Fair, or Poor.
Channel 1-11 Quality: Good
Connected to the Internet (this will have a check mark out to the left if you are in fact connected).
What is ISP Throttling, how can I avoid it?
ISP throttling is something else to consider that causes buffering. Your Internet service provider (ISP) slows down and limits your streaming speeds on purpose. This includes streaming traffic on their networks. It’s not uncommon when your ISP believes you have used too much data, have reached your data cap for the month, or simply when the network is congested. If you think your provider is throttling your speed please follow the instructions below.
Restart your Router
Restarting your Router can provide a fast solution to network slowdowns that cause buffering issues on a Fire Stick device, simply perform a reset. Unplug your router for 20-30 seconds then plug it back. It can take 30 seconds to 10 minutes for your device to reboot. You need to do this at least once a week. Some people find it more beneficial to do this more frequently.
Your router, modem, or even Amazon Fire TV device can be outdated and may be at fault for causing buffering issues. Generally, you need to upgrade to a new router/modem every 2-3 years. Make sure your Fire Stick is up to date. The device releases regular updates, adding new security features or interface tweaks. Make sure your Fire Stick device is running the latest version of its operating system for optimal speeds. In doing so this can help eliminate buffering issues of all kinds. Follow the steps below to check for fresh content and updates right away.
How do you perform an Amazon Fire TV update:
From the main menu, Select Settings and scroll to the right to Click My Fire TV.
Scroll down and click Install System Update (If your device has already installed the update, it will read “Check for System Update”)
Wait for the software installation to finish.
The Fire TV Stick will automatically look for new software. If it’s available, you’ll be prompted to download and install.
Tweaking your Amazon Firestick device
There are a few tricks you can do to optimize the devices performance.
Uninstall Unnecessary Apps (This is a MUST)
Does your device have a lot of apps? This can significantly compromise your ability to enjoy content from your Fire Stick because it adds to the overall demand on the device.
On the menu items at the top of the screen, scroll to the right and choose Settings.
Scroll right and choose Applications.
In the Applications menu, move down and choose Manage Installed Applications.
Scroll until you find the app you want to uninstall.
Select the app and a new screen will open. Scroll down and choose Uninstall.
A secondary screen will open.
Choose Uninstall again.
Restart Your Fire TV (This means to turn it off, then back on. Power it off).
It's common for users to think if they are turning their TV off when they are done watching it then the Firestick is being powered down too, This is not really the case. The Firestick will only go into a sleep mode. It is VERY IMPORTANT to restart your device as often as possible, this will peak its performance.
The good news is that some buffering errors can be eliminated by rebooting your Firestick device. You need to reboot your device at least once a week.
Here’s how you Restart your Firestick:
Scroll to the right and choose “My Fire TV”
Click on “Restart” again to confirm it
The Firestick will reboot itself automatically, and the process usually takes a few minutes.
Turn Off Automatic Updates
It’s quite possible that some of the apps on your device are running background connections at the same time that you’re busy streaming. The more apps you have, the slower your loading speeds will be. To fix buffering on Firestick, simply turn off some of the apps from the settings page of the device.
The first step is to deactivate all automatic app updates:
Click on “Settings”
Scroll to the right and choose “Applications”
Click on “App store.”
Click on “Automatic Updates” and make sure it is on OFF mode.
Then, let’s go and deactivate app data usage:
Click on “Preferences”
Select “Privacy Settings”
Make sure the ” Collect App Usage Data” option is turned to OFF mode. If not, click on it and change from ON to OFF.