How to Increase Buffer Size in Netflix

By Elizabeth Smith

A larger buffer size can result in better Netflix performance.
i Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

When it comes to Netflix, many users simply play videos and accept the resulting quality, or lack thereof. If you are continuously experiencing poor video playback, however, you may need to adjust the buffer size. In doing so, you can customize Netflix to work with your device and your Internet connection to provide the best possible quality.

Understanding Buffer Size

A buffer stands between the Netflix server and you. The buffer stores a percentage of your video data as a backup. If the Internet connection slows down or cuts out unexpectedly, Netflix uses the data in the buffer to enable smooth video playback until the connection speeds up. The larger the buffer is, the more data is stored. Unfortunately, a larger buffer also uses more of your CPU memory, which can impact the overall performance of your device.

Manually Adjusting Buffer Size

Netflix comes with a feature that enables you to choose your own buffer size. To access it, start a video using the Instant Play window. Click on the video and hold down the "Shift," "Control," "alt" and "S" keys at the same time. In the "Stream Manager" window, click the check box next to "Manual Selection." Click on the radio button next to the buffering rate you want to use and click the "Apply" button.

Closing Non-Essential Applications

Even when you have set a large buffer, your computer's memory may prevent Netflix from saving the maximum amount of data. To help it perform at optimal levels, free up extra CPU space. Focus on closing applications that use the Internet: downloads, uploads, email programs and websites are all common memory hogs. Close any unnecessary windows and shut down messaging programs.