Why Does Video & Audio Run Slow or Freeze on My Computer?

By Ashley Poland

Choppy media playback can hinder your experience.
i Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Media playback may degrade even on new computers. Stuttering and freezing within video and audio files may indicate a problem with your computer's hardware, but the source of the disruption might also be tied to the file itself. You may need to experiment with settings and various media players to isolate the cause.

Graphics Card

An underpowered graphics card could provide choppy video playback. You might not experience problems until the video is expanded to fullscreen or if you only have problems with high-definition video. You can sometimes solve the problem by changing your graphics card settings to slow down the GPU and video RAM clock rates. Otherwise, the only long-term solution is replacing your graphics card.


Your computer's available CPU and RAM factor into everything your computer does, even video and audio playback. Anything that taxes your resources, such as running video or audio programs, can cause your computer to skip or freeze altogether if too many programs are demanding more resources simultaneously than your hardware can supply. Even your media player itself could contribute to the problem; using a lower-resource media player may provide better results. You can check your computer's resource use with the Task Manager.


If you're streaming audio or video that skips or freezes, insufficient bandwidth is usually to blame. If the application you're using allows it, turning down the audio or video quality to a lower setting can solve the problem. You may also need to turn off any other bandwidth-heavy applications, such as online games or large streaming downloads.

File Problems

If you're only experiencing the problem with one file or a series of files from one source, the problem might be in the file, or an incompatibility with your installed codecs. Check that you have all the necessary codecs to play the audio or video. You might also try an alternative media player, such as VLC or GOM Media Player.