How Much Memory Does It Take to Stream Netflix?

By Nick Davis

Additional RAM can be installed on computers to increase performance and speed.
i Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

With Netflix, the popular streaming media service, you can watch movies and TV programs on your desktop or laptop computer without having to download multiple players or plug-ins. On a Windows PC, you must have 512MB of RAM to stream content from Netflix; on an Intel-based Mac, you need 1GB of RAM.

Inadequate RAM

If your system doesn't have adequate RAM, Netflix's streaming service will not work – movies and TV programs won’t not load or will freeze when you click on a content link. The Netflix software or the website may close unexpectedly and report an “Out of Memory” error, or your computer may report a system error. Such memory-related errors can lock up your computer, requiring you to reboot.


Insufficient memory may also cause a “Buffering” message to display but the streaming content from Netflix never starts. Buffering is the process in which content from the Netflix server is sent to your computer; it is usually a background process, and buffering continues even after a video has begun to play. The speed of your computer and Internet connection control the rate of buffering.

Freeing Up Memory

Closing other applications and documents on your computer may free up memory and resolve “Out of Memory” errors, provided your system has enough RAM to run Netflix with all other windows closed. Restarting your computer will also free up memory, and so will ending background programs and processes via Task Manager in Windows or Activity Manager on a Mac.

Additional Memory

If your computer does not have enough RAM to stream Netflix, you may be able to upgrade and install additional memory. Consult your user manual or a computer repair service to determine compatible RAM products. Additional memory can be purchased online or from any brick-and-mortar store that sells computer parts.