Promoting Security, Privacy, and Safety

Slow Netflix Streaming? You May Be Getting Throttled

Got crappy Netflix playback?  It might not be a Netflix problem but a problem caused my your local Internet provider.  Some providers are putting the squeeze on the competition in order to drive customers away from Netflix and other video streaming services.

Dig around in the news and you will find plenty of controversy between Netflix and Internet providers like Verizon, Comcast, etc.  Click here to read a discussion on the topic by ZDNet. Here is a graphic from the post that shows who is slow at the time of the post.

Fixing Slow Netflix

Tools to check your speed

Net neutrality and throttling have been a major point of concern for many, but how can you tell if you are being throttled?  Here are some tools to help.

1, Monthly ISP rankings

You might want to check this website hosted by Netflix. There is a drop down to narrow the results to just your county. Here you will see where the data from over one billion hours of monthly video streaming is used to compare ISPs.  This is updated monthly and gives a good idea of which internet providers provide the best and worst delivery of movie and TV shows over their network.  Some companies are fighting to have this information taken down so who knows how long this website will remain public.

2. Test your Netflix speed

Here is website that will speed test your Netflix playback. This is a video play back that will test your Netflix performance in real time.  Nice!  When the video starts you will see a water fountain; a very talented guy moon walking, juggling, and reciting poetry; a penguin riding a toy train; and more great and wondrous things that will make you “laugh”, “cry”, and even “pass out” (according to some of the funny comments below the video).  After you realize that the video is nothing special, focus on the top left of your screen.  There you will see the bit rate and the resolution of the video in real time.  Let the video play for a while because it will likely start out slow but should improve gradually as Netflix buffers and adjust automatically to your network conditions.  The higher the numbers and steadier they are the better performance you are getting over your Internet connection.

Here are the Internet download speed connection recommendations for playing movies and TV shows through Netflix.

  • 0.5 Megabits per second – Required broadband connection speed
  • 1.5 Megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed
  • 3.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for SD quality
  • 5.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality
  • 25 Megabits per second – Recommended for Ultra HD quality

Netflix goes out of its way to deliver quality video to its customers.  But in the end the video has to travel over the users internet connection which Netflix has no control over.

3. Test your Internet connection speed

This website will check your internet connection.  Click here  You can check your download and upload speeds with various server locations.  This will give you an idea of what your download speed is and if you meet the minimum requirements to play video from Netflix.  You can also compare your connection with what you are getting when you play the Netflix speed test video from above.

4. Secret Netflix adjustment menu

Netflix hidden menuWhen you play a video, Netflix will automatically calibrate the stream.  It does a good job at this but you can adjust it some yourself and play around with some of the other options.  Here is how to access a hidden settings menu. While streaming a video press Shift+Alt+Left Click (Shift+Option+Click on a Mac).  Find “Stream Manager”.  Here you can manually adjust the buffering.  Under A/V sync compensation you can adjust the audio video synchronization.  This can help if the conversation of the actors is not matching the movement of their mouths.

What to do if you are being throttled by your Internet service provider.

If you determine that you are being throttled by your Internet service provider you can easily hide what you are streaming from them.  They can't filter out what they don't know.  This is simple to do with a VPN subscription.  VPN stands for virtual private network and works by making an encrypted tunnel through your current internet connection out to a VPN server.  Everything is encrypted between you and the VPN server so your ISP can't tell what you are doing or filter anything out.  A VPN connection provides lots of other great benefits like hot spot security that protects you while connected through a public Wi-Fi.  You can even put your entire house on  a VPN connection by setting it up on you home router if you want to.  It is also extremely easy to only connect just when you need it from you home computer, laptop, and even a smart phone.

For more information on VPNs click here to read our post that will help answer questions about whether or not you might want a personal VPN service.

If you know you that you want a VPN and would like to read our recommendations please click here for our top reviews page.


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