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Help Prevent Stutter in Video Streams in VLC & Windows Media Player

When watching a video that’s streaming across your home network, it’s annoying to get the “stutter effect”. With a simple tweak in VLC and Windows Media Player we can help prevent this annoyance.

There could be other factors that cause network video streams to stutter, such as the type of hardware you’re using or streaming wirelessly. But before you go out and spend a bunch of money for a full Gigabit network, a simple setting change to the read buffer cache in VLC or WMP can definitely help.

Increase Caching in VLC

To change the buffer cache size in VLC click on Media \ Open Network Stream.

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At the bottom right of the screen, check Show extended options.

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Now increase the number in the Caching field. By default ours was set to 200ms and we bumped it up to 500ms or 0.5 seconds. When done click the Play button.

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Now you should be able to enjoy your video stutter free.

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Windows Media Player

To increase the read buffer in Windows 7 Media Player open it up and click “Alt+T” to bring up the menu and go to Tools and click on Options.

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Now click on the Performance tab and under Network buffering change the buffering from using the default (which is 5 seconds) to a larger number. Notice in WMP it’s not in milliseconds like VLC so just increase it to whatever works best. When you’re done click OK.

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Now you should be able to watch your favorite streaming video content on Media Player without any stuttering in the feed.

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Windows Media Player 11

You can also do this in WMP 11 in XP and Vista following the same process…

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Conclusion

If you’re annoyed by stuttering when streaming video over your network, changing these settings can help. You’ll probably have to experiment a bit with the caching until you get it where you want it. You should be able to do this in other video players as well, just read the products documentation. Depending on how much you increase it by, it may take videos longer to startup, but you should be able to enjoy stutter free video!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/22/10

Comments (6)

  1. Ben

    500ms is half a second, not 5 seconds.

  2. Ron

    Perhaps Ben needs to see the eye doctor. it says 0.5 seconds which IS one half second.

  3. wildwing

    to make the preferences stick in vlc:

    “Tools -> Preferences… (Show settings: All) and Input/Codecs -> Access modules and choose the access module you want get bigger cache value and increase Caching value in ms (Files)”

    i did set it up to 1000ms on my notebook and 6gb movies steam flawless now

  4. Robert E. Chandler

    Hi! I tried your suggestion in Windows Media Player 11 on XP but the input box for network buffering is grayed out and won’t let me make a change. Is there a workaround for this?

  5. Mike

    When viewing any streamed video in Firefox, I want it to open in VLC or WMP, but instead it opens within Firefox. There aren’t any controls for replay, etc. How can I prevent this occurring & have available streaming in either VLC or WMP?
    Mike

  6. E.W.

    @Mike….

    Open Firefox (I’m using version 6), Click on the Orange Firefox Tool button, click Options, and Options again.
    Click on the Applications Tab and highlight the extension(streaming video) in the “Content” list.
    It will probably be configured to use Firefox, but you can choose your own application by clicking the down arrow in the “Action” list. Your other players may be listed and you can just click on which ever you want or click on “Always Ask”. If not, click on “Use Other” then click again on the down arrow and you’ll be able to ‘browse’ the list of programs on your computer. That program will open streaming video you want to play from the Internet.

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