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Fix for VLC Skipping and Lagging Playing High-Def Video Files

VLC is the king of all media… it plays almost anything on any platform, any time, any place. It’s great. Lately, however, I’ve been having issues with VLC skipping whenever I’m playing high-def media streaming over a network.

Fixing the Lagging and Skipping

If the file that is skipping is playing from a local hard drive, choose the “All” settings at the bottom of the dialog to show all of the options, then navigate to Input / Codecs -> Access modules -> File.

The caching value here is set in milliseconds, so setting the value to 1000 will buffer for 1 second (the default is 600, or 0.6 seconds). The problem with setting this option too large is that if you want to manually skip to a new point in the file, there will be a larger lag while the content is buffered again.

VLC file input

If the file you are trying to play is located on a network share, you can navigate to Input / Codecs -> Access modules -> SMB and change the caching value here.

For illustration, I’ve shown the value set to 1 second, but this setting can be used to buffer as much as you want… a cache of 20 seconds would probably eliminate the skipping even over wireless networks.

VLC SMB caching

The next thing you can do is adjust an option that makes a huge difference when dealing with high-def media over a slow I/O connection… browse down to Input / Codecs -> Other codecs -> FFmpeg.

Change the “Skip the loop filter for H.264 decoding” option to All. This option makes playback smoother by slightly degrading the quality of the picture. You can try the other settings first, and only use this as a last resort.

FFmpeg audio/video decoder

The last setting, although arguably the most important one, is to test using a different video output module. Using the DirectX 3D video output should offload some of the processing onto the video card, but you can test OpenGL or GDI to see if it helps.

It should be noted that at least on my system, Direct3D is the default anyway.

VLC Output modules

Update: reader Oliver wrote in to let us know that he was able to solve his problems by disabling hardware decoding. Normally you would want hardware acceleration of the decoding process, but in some cases, it can conflict with your drivers, and it is worth a try.

Open Preferences, click the All in the lower left-hand corner, and then browse to Input / Codecs -> Video Codecs -> FFmpeg and find the Hardware decoding option. Uncheck it (or if it is unchecked, you can try checking it).

Hopefully at least one of these tips will solve your buffering problems.

If you haven’t used VLC, you should head to their download page and check it out.

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 05/5/09

Comments (65)

  1. CypherBit

    Can you perhaps offer any sugesstions as far as caching if the file being streamed is an IPTV channel which I’m streaming from one machine over to another through WiFi?

  2. gunn0r

    Nice tips, although I like SMPlayer more (http://smplayer.sourceforge.net/).

  3. thesun

    now i use media player classic with the k-lite codec pack
    so much better than vlc and also plays .mkv’s in 720p and 1080p properly without lagging

  4. Jim

    I just went to do this and mine was defaulted to 300, not 600. It had to be the default because I’ve never changed it. Version 0.9.9 if it matters.

    I’ve set it to 600 and we’ll see how that works :)

  5. The Digitizor

    Media Player Classic (k-lite mega codec pack) certainly handles the Hi-Def videos in a much better way.

  6. Jen

    I’m not TOO sure but I think the most recent release (0.9.9) fixed that issue with the lagging because I haven’t experienced any ever since I updated. Again, I’m positive but I haven’t been noticing any drags and lags. But thanks for the tutorial!

  7. kingkarlit0s

    thanks for your tutorial, I was wanting to use VLC for my HD vids instead of MPC.

  8. noone

    thank you! you fixed my lag problem!

  9. Jacob Arthur

    Hey, I did this, set me Cache to 100000, now when I skip ahead It stops playing the audio, if I then set it to the start of the file I get audio to play. Any idea about what I can do to fix this?

  10. Steve

    I had a problem with periodic skipping on my HDTV when running it as a second monitor. The problem seemed to be a refresh rate issue and enabling triple buffering and increasing the cache fixed the problem completely. Thanks

  11. Paul

    Still doesn’t work for me. It caches the amount requested at the start and then just stops playing part way into the video. Playing HD720p AVI over wireless network via windows network file sharing.

    Most frustrating.

  12. lilith

    thank you. your tips really helped a lot.

  13. ...

    Thanks 100%

  14. Remy LeBeau

    Thanks! I’ve been having trouble watching HD content over a networked drive and this was exactly what I was looking for. Sadly even though these tips helped not even a cache of 20 seconds eliminated the skipping completely for me :(.

    VLC has always been my number one recommendation for media players BUT for anyone having skipping problems that won’t resolve completely give Media Player Classic (Home Cinema) a try.

    After I tried using that instead of VLC all my problems were fixed. No need to download anything else or change any settings. It worked perfectly right out of the “box”.

    Hope this helps some people :).

  15. Tim W. Collier

    Your tips Fixed Thanks!!!!!

  16. Tim W. Collier

    Your tips Fixed it Thanks!!!!!

  17. Bill

    Thanks alot man.. u sorted my lagging probs.. great post

  18. hamza

    i have a problem, when I play the video it’s seems more slowly than the other videos
    So what should I do ?!!

  19. Anonymous

    Great tip the one about “Skip the loop filter for H.264 decoding”. Solved my problems with video lag during fast scenes in a HD video. Thanks a lot!

  20. kapil

    i changed the file from 300 to 1000. but still the HD videos lag a bit! the HD videos play much slower compared with the regular ones. how to solve this?

  21. Mark

    I had some problems with my vlc files skipping but that was because my hard drive was in general severely framented..I have 2 large hard drives and many of my folders with media files within skip or lag. I remedied this by using a disk defrag utility I found on the web – UltraDefrag. UltraDefrag is an opensource app. and I like it because it places an option in the right-click menu that allows to defrag just that folder alone. It works really good and is free, highly recommend !

  22. alex

    That Fix worked great, thanx

  23. RizZy

    I’ve been having a hell of a time getting vlc to play a film, it just kept stuttering all the time, I tried all your fixes & had no joy, so I started randomly trying just about anything else I could find, I eventually tried “Use GPU acceleration (experimental)” & it sorted them problem out, plays smooth as anything now, worth a try if anyone else is having no luck.

  24. thomass

    I am in search of any such software by which I can skip some selected “time span” from the movies while playing.
    I dont want to edit OR delete the scenes as it will take hell lot of time and will reduce the quality of the rip
    So any body knowing any such software OR player which can skip specific parts while playing.?
    (better if a freeware)
    (I’m aware that it is out of topic a bit. However at least title looks like similar )

  25. SFH

    After following the tips, it actually fixed my Media Player Classic. VLC can suck it !

  26. Jin

    haha…I already checked how to solve playing HD file…and now this tip really help me…TQVM

  27. phatboi22

    OpenGL finally fixed the skipping. Thanks heaps for the tips.

  28. Anon

    I’m having problems with playing some DVDISO files from my external HDD. Other files of similar size play fine with no skipping whatsoever, but some files will play for a little bit, then stop completely with no continuing audio or anything, and skip forward anywhere from five to ten seconds. If it only happened once or twice I wouldn’t care but it happens quite a bit and is relatively annoying. I’ve tried increasing the caching buffer but that helped minimally on some and not at all on others.

    Oh and some files, the video image will stop then break up, but audio will continue without the image returning at all unless I click ahead.

  29. MONCI

    IT WORKED!!!

    TAHNKS DUDE!!!

  30. Sachin

    Awesome !! it works for me

  31. Simer

    the lag is gone with the price of hd quality
    the videos are no longer smooth

  32. JJM

    Excellent. Setting the player to Direct3D forced it to use my video card. Now my HD videos play as well as divx files.

  33. Puls

    Didn’t help me at all :/ changes from default 300ms to 600ms, still laggs (1080p) then changed it to 1000ms and still lags exactly the same way and the same frames. Tried 5000ms no different at all.

  34. James

    Yay, it worked!

    If it doesn’t work I wonder if setting the process priority to High would help? Could also be that your computer is to slow to handle HD?

  35. smokes

    heh tnx.. it worked with OpenGL thing :D

  36. Kpax

    Thanks it worked! I had to set the cache value to 50000 AND skip the loop filter for H.264 decoding option to all. I might play around with it a little more but for all intents and purposes it’s good to go.

  37. anony

    Thanks helped alot

  38. Wendy

    Indeed, fixed mine as well!

  39. Aditya

    Thanks It worked……Fixed the problem ..

  40. sneakrnet

    I’ve had a problem with VLC (and other players, sometimes) skipping when playing something.

    None of the usual suggestions (increasing caches/buffers, updating codecs, setting “Skip the loop filter for H.264 decoding” to all, using DirectX 3D video output) worked for me, and I just suffered with it for the videos where the skipping occurred.

    I recently upgraded my system with a new motherboard, much faster processor, more memory, and a newer, much faster video card, and… the problem got much worse.

    A few days after upgrading, with a little guessing and a little luck, I discovered what was causing the problem.

    Firefox. I had Firefox windows open (among other things) while playing the video. I started closing things one by one and then replaying the video, and when I closed Firefox completely, the video played with no problems. (At least in my case, I needed to close and restart VLC after closing Firefox — after doing so, the problem disappeared completely.)

    So, for those people having problems with VLC skipping, add this to your list of things to try: Close Firefox before playing your video file. (You should put this high on the list of things to try, because it is easy and it doesn’t change the way video plays on your PC, as a number of the other suggestions do.

    Good luck.

  41. Codi

    AWESOME fix! between my co workers and i we have about 500gb of HD video that none of us could watch because of the lag which sucked because right now our job consists of 12 hours of down time. thanks so much!

  42. Seth

    Awesome site. This worked perfectly. You guys fuckin rock.

  43. davon

    hey im using vlc with my easycap capture card to play xbox360 on my laptop but it has a lot of video and sound lag. does anyone know a way to fix this?

  44. Seeker

    LOVE YOU YOU’RE A GENIUS IT WORKED!!!!!! THANKS MUCH!!

  45. Kenny

    Wow—thank you so much—-I am running my vids mainly from a netbook using VLC (which is great in and of itself)—but I have a library full of HD x264 videos that would never work on the netbook—-now will—This is an awesome help file( I had been searching for an answer for this prob for a lifetime and a half, and more often than not, I was told my netbook just wasn’t strong enough to handle these—I had to resort to the third and final option, but it works great—and the video, to me anyway, hasn’t lost a whole heck of a lot…..I’m bookmarking your site, and I will make sure that anyone who has a PC issue that comes to me, will be refer’d to your site—-I know I will be back! Thanks again!!! Kenny C.

  46. fullvirus

    Media Player Classic (Home Cinema) fix my problem too and i was a big fan of vlc player

  47. Legs

    This helped immensely, thank you so much!

  48. Barafu

    Hello from Russia!
    If those tips didn’t help you, like it was in my case, I can add more.
    First, Preferences – all – input and codecs – Access modules – file. There set caching value to 5`000 or even more.
    Second, set you monitor refresh rate to be 59Hz, not 60.
    Third, in preferences – all – advanced set on the switch “Increase priority of the process”.
    Fourth, preferences – all – codecs – video – ffmpeg, set on the switch “Hurry up” and “allow the SpeedTrix”

    Make sure you have deinterlace, scaling, post-processing off.
    Now, it should play even on rather old machines. But don’t expect miracles if you hardware appeared before the idea of HD video.

  49. SharpShark28

    The best article I’ve read here because it’s helped me so much. I love VLC, but video playback has been pretty much the only downfall I’ve had since switching to a NAS system for my files. I had considered many options to speed up the data transfer but they didn’t seem worth it. Now for an added millisecond delay I never notice I can watch everything seamlessly, thank you!

  50. Ferneu

    Thanks for the file caching setting. It helped a lot. In fact, it has solved all my choppy playback problems when dealing with HD content (1080p). The default setting was 300 milliseconds here, but since I have more than enough RAM and processor power, I have used 5000 milliseconds (5 seconds) and that is it. No more problems.

    Since the VLC team likes to (unfortunately) insist on the installer idea (nothing will ever beat a compressed package with all required files that makes no changes in the system registry), they should at least check user’s system specs and increase (or even decrease) this value accordingly.

    Or, even better, since changing this value will make moving through the video slower, they should try to auto-detect a possible choppiness during the video playback and suggest, when possible to increase the caching value a little bit.

  51. Shivam

    It solved every issue playing HD videos but i play them offline not network stream.

    Thanx Anyway.

  52. Mario Budal

    This was SUCH a relief, you have NO idea!

    Thank you SO much! You deserve something really special for this! I hope you get good karma!

  53. Udhaya

    THanks a lot dude….

  54. mick2d2

    Thanks a million, solved the problem when streaming from LG NAS

  55. C

    Thank you! I put a new drive in my PC and was having some playback issues, then I tried downloading a newer version of VLC + new mboard drivers + video card drivers… I assumed the problem was with the latter two actions but I guess the new VLC had the processing ms settings too low. Putting it on 1000 (it was on 300) seems to have fixed the problem.

  56. paul

    its sunday 1205am i have to get up at 5am and im writing you cuz i bought a 1200$ comp a month ago and since then i upgraded about everithing in it and went back numerous times bcuz my 1080p movies were slightly choppy almost lagging and ive put so many hours into trying to fix that problem ive tried switching players, codecs,blaming the downloaded movie,the frame rate goin threw all the options ,even the tech at the store gave up on me and NOW i finally changed the caching to 600 i think it was 200-300 and my worst lagging movie is playing perfect THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  57. anonymous

    “Try Media Player Classic”
    +1

  58. Mrsaiko

    Works great for me too I`m using VLC 1.1.10. Thanks alot!

  59. adma

    solved my MKV 1080p playback on my Pintium D / 2 GB ram / Windows 7 32bits

    thank you alot mate

  60. Idiot

    When you create insturion, then please start about mention for what that insturion is for..

    If you take a close enough look, you can actually found out that there is diffrent version for softwares, so it is somehow healty point to start telling where instruction is usefull.

  61. idiot2

    fixed!!! thank you!

  62. VLCNewb

    Thx alot your tutorial rly helped me out :D

  63. awesome

    The last fix
    Video -> output modules -> ….
    worked :-)

    thanks

  64. Ste

    ok so i just tried this and i cant seem to find the all settings below vlc media but i went a head and went into the file output/input as shown in the pictures and changed it to 1000 ms lets just hope it works!

  65. princer

    Great! It really decreased the lagging.

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