How to Speed Up a Slow Webcam

By Jack Powell

Too much lag can destroy a video chat session.
i Jupiterimages/ Images

Most laptops now have built-in Webcams as do some desktop computers. If your computer does not have a built-in Webcam, you can purchase an external device. When most people think of Webcams, they immediately think of video chatting, but the truth is, Webcams can be used for surveillance, work, entertainment --- just about anything you can think of. If your Webcam seems to be slow, there are several things you can do to speed it up.

Check all the connections if you have an external Webcam. Make sure the USB cable is fully plugged in. Examine the cable to make sure it is not damaged. If you believe the cable is to blame, try replacing it with a different USB cable or plugging the cable into a different port on your computer.

Update your drivers. Drivers are programs that enable external equipment to talk to your computer. A sluggish Webcam could be the result of outdated or incorrect drivers. Find the model of your Webcam, or your computer for built-in Webcams and go to the manufacturer's website to search their download section for the correct drivers. Once you've downloaded them, install the new drivers and test out the camera.

Uninstall and reinstall the camera and drivers. If you are still experiencing problems, go to your computer's device manager and remove the Webcam. This also removes the Webcam's drivers. Reinstall the camera and new drivers.

Close any unnecessary programs. When open, programs use part of your CPU processing speed and memory even if you aren't actively using them. To free up more processing capacity and memory for your Webcam, close out of any programs that don't need to be open. Minimizing the programs will not work, you need to close out of each program to boost your processing speed.

Check your Webcam's refresh rate. Most of the newer Webcams are are capable of capturing 60 frames per second, although when transferred over the Internet, the frame rate drops significantly. Make sure if you are able to adjust the frame rate that it is set as high as possible to ensure the least delay.

Switch to high-speed Internet. Anyone using video chat over the Internet needs to be using a high-speed Internet connection to see the video properly. Dial-up connections cannot refresh the screen quickly enough to provide smooth video, so dial-up users will experience jerky video that freezes up. Make sure both you and whomever you are chatting with have high-speed Internet to allow your Webcam to work as smoothly as possible.