Why Does My Video Hesitate?

by Adrian Grahams

Whether you’re viewing an online video clip or streaming a full movie from a video on-demand service, your computer’s video player software “buffers” the video to ensure smooth playback. If another computer application shares the Internet connection, or your Internet connection speed isn’t fast enough, the video clip or movie on the video player can hesitate or pause.

About Video Buffering

The video player's buffer downloads and stores a percentage of the data that makes up the video clip or movie before actually playing the video file. This allows the software to process the data and play the video on your computer smoothly. Pauses and hesitation occur in the streamed file when the video player software hasn’t buffered all data in the next portion of the clip. The video player usually pauses the video, and displays a “Buffering” message while downloading and processing the next chunk of data.

Internet Connection Speed

Video clips will keep hesitating and buffering if your Internet connection isn’t fast enough to download sufficient data to play the file smoothly, or if there’s not enough bandwidth available on the connection to download the file quickly. Most video services require a high-speed broadband Internet connection for video streaming; for example, at the time of publication, YouTube requires a connection speed of at least 500 Kbps, and Hulu needs 1,000 Kbps.

Internet Connection Bandwidth

Other programs and applications running on your computer might also cause a problem by accessing the Internet and using up the connection’s available bandwidth. Many programs need to connect to the Internet regularly for updates, so you may not be aware that your Internet bandwidth is under pressure. Sometimes the problem is down to the video provider. If the video host’s servers experience high traffic from other users, your software can struggle to download the video file quickly enough.


Troubleshoot online video playback problems by checking your Internet connection’s speed. Ask your Internet service provider for information about your actual connection speed rather than the advertised connection speed. You can also use an online service to find your actual download speed. Always close other programs that might use your Internet connection and interrupt the video. However, always leave antivirus and firewall programs running to protect your computer. Sometimes restarting the clip or pausing the video for a few minutes allows the player to buffer adequate data and resume smooth playback. If you view online videos through your Web browser, clear the browser’s cache to remove any incomplete video file downloads. You can clear the cache from the browser’s Tools or Options menu.

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