Chapter 11

Ten Tips for Troubleshooting Streaming Woes


Bullet Testing your Internet and Wi-Fi connection speeds

Bullet Restarting, updating, and resetting your streaming device

Bullet Restarting, updating, and resetting your Wi-Fi router

Bullet Troubleshooting Wi-Fi woes

Bullet Learning when you need to replace your hardware

One of the advantages of having a cable TV account is that if something goes wrong with your connection or hardware, the cable company has an army of technicians at the ready. One call to the company's tech support line and either the technician will be able to solve your problem over the phone or they'll set up a “truck roll,” where a technician comes to your residence to make the repair. Now, of course, we're talking about the cable company here, so that appointment probably is far in the future, will require you to take time off work so that you're around when the technician shows up, and will cost you big bucks.

When you cut the cord and leave the cable company behind, you also leave behind the expertise of the cable technician, which means if something goes wrong with your streaming, you're on your own when it comes to fixing things.

That situation is not as daunting as it might sound because most streaming glitches can be solved fairly straightforwardly, even if you have zero technical skills. In this chapter, you learn all the know-how you need to troubleshoot and solve the most common media streaming woes. Whether it's excessive buffering, slow connections, or blank screens, this chapter shows you how to investigate the problem and how to solve it.

Check Your Streaming Device's Download Speed

Here are the most common (and most frustrating) complaints I hear from streamers:

  • The media never starts.
  • The media takes a long time to start.
  • The media plays intermittently.
  • The media stops playing and never resumes.

It’s maddening, for sure, but most of the time you can fix the problem. I say “most of the time” because there are a couple of situations where media streaming just doesn’t work well:

  • When you have a slow Internet connection speed: Media files are usually quite large, so for these files to play properly you need a reasonably fast Internet connection. Amazon recommends at least a half a megabit per second (0.5 Mbps), but realistically you should probably have a connection that offers at least 8 Mbps download speeds for HD content. (See Chapter 7 for more details.)
  • When you have an intermittent Internet connection: If you live in an area with spotty Internet service, that now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t Internet connection makes streaming media impossible.

If you live in an area that's supposed to have zippy Internet download speeds, the preceding problems can result from a slow connection. I talk about how to check the speed of your Internet connection in Chapter 7.

However, even if your Internet download speeds are good, that only gets you as far as your router. You might be having streaming glitches due to a connection problem after the signal leaves the router. There are two things to consider here:

  • Wi-Fi connection speed: The problem might be caused by a too slow Wi-Fi network connection. I cover this possibility a bit later in the “Check Your Wi-Fi Connection Speed” section.
  • Streaming device connection speed: The problem might be caused by a snafu in the streaming device. I cover this possibility in the rest of this section.

Your streaming device might have some sort of malfunction causing it to process streams at a much slower rate than what you'd normally expect given your Internet speed and Wi-Fi setup. How can you tell? It depends on the device, but most streaming devices offer a way to check the device's current Internet download speed:

  • Setting: See if your device has a setting that enables you to check the device's download speed. On Roku devices, for example, select Network, select Settings, and then run the Check Connection command.
  • App: Most streaming devices offer multiple apps that can check both download and upload speeds. (Figure 11-1 shows an example.) Search your device's apps for speed test and then install and run one of them.
    Snapshot of showing most streamers offer apps that can test your device's Internet speeds.

    FIGURE 11-1: Most streamers offer apps that can test your device's Internet speeds.

  • Web browser: If your streaming device offers one or more web browsers, you can install a browser and then use any of the Internet speed websites that I mention in Chapter 7. For example, if you have Fire TV, you can use either the Amazon Silk web browser (see Figure 11-2) or the Firefox web browser.
Snapshot of using the Amazon Silk browser to access Internet speed tests.

FIGURE 11-2: On Fire TV, use the Amazon Silk browser to access Internet speed tests.

Tip If your Internet connection speed seems normal but your streaming device says the download speed is molasses-in-January slow, it's possible that the device itself is the problem. You might be able to get the device back up to speed by doing the following three things (each of which I explain in more detail in the sections that follow):

  • Restart your streaming device.
  • Update your streaming device’s system software.
  • Reset your streaming device to its factory default settings.

Remember Try restarting your streaming device to see if it solves your problem. If not, move on to updating the software and see if that helps. If there’s still no joy, only then should you try resetting your device to its factory default settings.

Restart Your Streaming Device

If your streaming device is having trouble playing media, connecting to Wi-Fi, pairing with a Bluetooth device, or doing any of its normal duties, by far the most common solution is to shut down the device and restart it. By rebooting the device, you reload the system, which is often enough to solve many problems.

Use either of the following techniques to restart your streaming device:

  • If you still have access to the device interface, access the device settings and run the Restart command.
  • If the device uses electrical power from an outlet, unplug the device’s power cord, and then plug it back in.

    Warning You may be tempted to just plug the streaming device back in again right away but hold on a bit. The device has internal electronic components that take some time to completely discharge. To ensure that you get a proper restart, wait at least three seconds before reconnecting your streaming device’s power supply.

Check Your Streaming Device for Updates

Your streaming device uses internal software to perform all sorts of tasks, including connecting to your Wi-Fi network, handling media playback, and saving your settings. If your device is acting weird and restarting the device doesn’t help, you can often un-weird the device by updating its internal software. Sometimes installing a new version of the operating system is all you need to make the problem go away. In other cases, updating the system may fix a software glitch that was causing your problem.

Here are the general steps to follow to check for and install software updates on most streaming devices:

  1. Open the device settings.
  2. Locate and choose the command that checks to see if any updates are available.

    If an update is waiting, the device usually downloads the update and then displays a command for installing the update, as shown in Figure 11-3.

  3. Choose the command to install the update.

    The streaming device installs the update. During this process, leave your device on and don’t press any buttons on the remote.

Snapshot of the Install Update command appears when Fire TV has downloaded an update to Fire OS.

FIGURE 11-3: The Install Update command appears when Fire TV has downloaded an update to Fire OS.

Reset Your Streaming Device

If your problem is particularly ornery, restarting or updating the device won’t solve it. In that case, you need to take the relatively drastic step of resetting your streaming device to its original (often called factory default or just factory) settings. I describe this step as drastic because it means you have to go through the device setup process all over again, so only head down this road if restarting and updating your device don’t solve the problem.

Tip Before resetting your streaming device, you might want to check your Wi-Fi connection speed, as I describe in the next section. If your Wi-Fi is operating normally, then reset your device.

Here are the general steps to follow to reset your streaming device:

  1. Open the device settings.
  2. Locate and choose the command that resets the device.

    Figure 11-4 shows an example. The streaming device resets and then restarts.

Snapshot of looking for the command that resets the device to its original settings.

FIGURE 11-4: Look for the command that resets the device to its original settings.

Check Your Wi-Fi Connection Speed

Okay, your streaming is still slow and choppy. You've checked your Internet connection speed, and it's solid. You've restarted, updated, and reset your streaming device, so it's good to go. What's next? The last link in the chain is your Wi-Fi network's connection speed. If the streaming data is arriving at your modem lickety-split and your streaming device is firing on all cylinders, none of that matters if your Wi-Fi router is beaming the data to the device at a snail's pace.

First, check your network signal strength using your device's settings. Figure 11-5 shows an example. If the signal strength is low or fair, see the next couple of sections for some remedies.

Snapshot of many streaming devices enable you to see the Wi-Fi network signal strength.

FIGURE 11-5: Many streaming devices enable you to see the Wi-Fi network signal strength.

Here's another way to gauge Wi-Fi connection speed:

  1. Determine your current Internet download speed using a device connected directly to your modem.

    See Chapter 7 for the details.

  2. Bring a mobile device or notebook computer near the streaming device and then run an Internet speed test on the mobile device or computer.
  3. Compare the results of Steps 1 and 2 with the following table.

    Wi-Fi standard

    Theoretical speed

    Real-world speed


    11 Mbps

    2-3 Mbps


    54 Mbps

    20 Mbps


    54 Mbps

    20 Mbps


    600 Mbps

    40-50 Mbps


    1.75 Gbps

    100 Mbps

Tip How do you know which Wi-Fi standard your network uses? The most reliable way to tell is to access your Wi-Fi router configuration page, which should tell you which mode your network uses. See your router's documentation to learn how to access the configuration page.

What are you looking for here? There are two scenarios to consider:

  • Your Wi-Fi network's real-world speed is the same as or faster than your Internet download speed. In this case, you have a Wi-Fi problem if the mobile device or computer speed test from Step 2 returns a download speed that's significantly less than the Internet speed from Step 1.
  • Your Wi-Fi network's real-world speed is less than your Internet download speed. In this case, you have a Wi-Fi problem if the mobile device or computer speed test from Step 2 returns a download speed that's significantly less than your Wi-Fi network's real-world speed.

If the data show you have a Wi-Fi problem, see the next couple of sections for some solutions.

Tip I should also mention a third possibility here. Move your mobile device or computer closer to your Wi-Fi router and run the Internet speed test again. If you see greatly increased speed compared to what you saw near your streaming device, you have a range problem. That is, your streaming device is too far from your router.

Reset Your Wi-Fi

If your Wi-Fi network isn't performing as it should, try these remedies, in the order shown:

  • Restart your Wi-Fi hardware. Reset your hardware by performing the following tasks, in order:

    1. Turn off your modem.
    2. Turn off your Wi-Fi router.
    3. After a few seconds, turn the modem back on and wait until the modem reconnects to the Internet, which may take a few minutes.
    4. Turn on your Wi-Fi router.

    Remember Many Wi-Fi devices these days are all-in-one gadgets that combine both a Wi-Fi router and a modem for Internet access. If that’s what you have, instead of performing Steps 1 through 4, you can just turn off the Wi-Fi device, wait a bit, turn the device back on, and then wait for the device to connect to your Internet service provider (ISP).

  • Update the wireless router firmware. The wireless router firmware is the internal program that the router uses to perform its various chores. Wireless router manufacturers frequently update their firmware to fix bugs, so you should check whether an updated version of the firmware is available. See your device documentation to find out how this works.
  • Reset the Wi-Fi device. As a last resort, reset the Wi-Fi router to its default factory settings. (See the device documentation to find out how to do this.) Note that if you do this, you need to set up your network again from scratch.

Make Some Wi-Fi Adjustments

Here are a few troubleshooting tips to try if your Wi-Fi performance isn't what you expect:

  • Shut down other wireless devices. If you have other devices accessing your Wi-Fi network, shut down any devices you’re not using.
  • Look for interference. Devices such as baby monitors and cordless phones that use the 2.4 GHz radio frequency (RF) band can wreak havoc with wireless signals. Try either moving or turning off such devices if they’re near your Fire TV device or Wi-Fi device.

    Warning Keep your Wi-Fi router well away from microwave ovens, which can jam wireless signals.

    Tip Many wireless routers enable you to set up a separate Wi-Fi network on the 5 GHz RF band. This band isn’t used by most household gadgets, so it has less interference. Check your router manual to see if it supports 5 GHz networks.

  • Check your range. Your streaming device may be too far away from the Wi-Fi router. You usually can’t get much farther than about 230 feet away from most modern Wi-Fi devices before the signal begins to degrade. (That range drops to about 115 feet for older Wi-Fi devices.) Either move the streaming device closer to the Wi-Fi router or turn on the router’s range booster, if it has one. You could also install a wireless range extender.

Troubleshoot an Unresponsive Streaming Device

Perhaps the most teeth-gnashingly frustrating problem you can encounter in technology is when a device — particularly one you paid good money for — just stops working. The device appears to be on, but tapping it, shoving it, gesticulating at it, and yelling at it are all ineffective at making the device respond.

If that happens to your streaming device, try the following troubleshooting steps, in order:

  1. Wait a few minutes.

    Sometimes devices just freeze up temporarily and then right themselves after a short break.

  2. Check your Wi-Fi network to make sure it’s working properly and that your device is connected.

    See the previous three sections in this chapter.

  3. Restart the device.

    See the “Restart Your Streaming Device” section, earlier in the chapter.

  4. Check to see if your device is using the most up-to-date system software.

    See the “Check Your Streaming Device for Updates” section.

  5. Reset your device.

    See the “Reset Your Streaming Device” section.

Troubleshoot a Blank TV Screen

If the TV to which you’ve connected your streaming device shows a blank screen, here are a few things to check out:

  • Make sure the TV is plugged in and turned on.
  • Make sure the TV is set to the correct input:
    • For a TV with a streaming device attached, switch to whatever input the streaming device is connected to.
    • For a Smart TV, make sure the TV is using the streaming input (and not, say, the input for your antenna or gaming console).
  • For a streaming device connected to the TV via HDMI, disconnect and then reconnect the device.
  • If your streaming device is connected to your TV with an HDMI cable or HDMI hub, try replacing the cable or the hub or both.
  • If you have a streaming device that supports 4K, make sure you’re using a high-speed HDMI cable.

Upgrade Your Hardware

All the troubleshooting tips so far in this chapter haven't cost you a dime, which is the best kind of tech first aid. However, things break or degrade, so if you still have streaming woes, despite your best efforts, new hardware might be in order:

  • If you've tried everything to improve Wi-Fi speeds and nothing works, it's probably time for a new router.
  • If Wi-Fi is fast near the router but not by your streaming device, and you can't move either device so they're closer, you might want to invest in a Wi-Fi range extender.
  • If you have a fast Internet connection and a fast Wi-Fi connection and if you've restarted, updated, and reset your streaming device but that device still has trouble streaming, consider investing in a new streaming device.
..................Content has been hidden....................

You can't read the all page of ebook, please click here login for view all page.