A few months ago I was playing games on my Nintendo Wii (thanks to the loss of my Xbox 360) and even getting fitter in the process – until I stumbled across the news that not only could I turn my Wii into a media centre, but that I could also install Netflix.
Suffice to say, the intervening months have not been kind to my waistline. At times, they haven’t been all that kind to my sanity, either, as I occasionally encountered issues with streaming from the excellent collection of TV shows and movies that are on offer from the service.
I had initially thought that the problems were down to the positioning of my Wii in relation to my router (my 50Mb fibre option broadband didn’t even enter contention as a cause), but after moving the devices following the principles of wireless feng shui I discovered that this was not the case. In fact I found that there are many reasons for problems streaming Netflix, regardless of which device you’re watching on.
General Principles To Improve Netflix Streaming Speed
Before looking at issues with specific device types, let’s take a look at how you can resolve problems streaming Netflix in general.
Your network speed is of course of the utmost importance. If you’re viewing Netflix at home on your PC, console, dedicated media centre or on a mobile device you need to make sure that you are receiving the best speed available. Netflix recommends a connection speed of 1.0 Mbps minimum. Using one of the popular speed test websites you should be able to confirm that your computer is meeting this requirement.
Netflix specifies the following speeds for different playback types:
- 1 Mbps: Streaming on a laptop
- 2 Mbps: Streaming on a standard definition television
- 4 Mbps: Streaming in HD
- 5 Mbps: Optimal audio and video streaming
With some devices – such as a Nintendo Wii – it isn’t possible to connect an Ethernet cable, but a wired connection should be used wherever possible for the best, trouble-free results.
Additionally, if you’re experiencing connection and performance problems using Netflix at home, the usual network checks should be made such as restarting your router, connected your device directly to the router, and checking with your ISP for any known issues.
One last vital tip is to check your Netflix settings, which you will need to do via your web browser. Log in to Netflix, select Your Account and look for Manage Video Quality which is listed under Your Streaming Plan. This screen is provided to help you choose the right level of quality for your Internet plan; if your picture quality is poor, you might like to check these options to select the best speed.
Netflix Speed Issues On Desktop Computers
A handful of issues crop up from time to time when running Netflix on a desktop computer. These can be attributed to the screen resolution and window size, tasks running in the background or simply an issue with the browser.
The size of your browser window can be an issue, particularly on displays larger than 20 inches. Dual monitor setups can also lead to problems. Dealing with these issues relies on trying out different browser window sizes to see which gives the best results, so click and drag that bottom-right corner to see how the movie plays!
Background tasks and apps can also cause problems. Memory-hogging services are also an issue, so using your desktop task manager to close these, shutting down any games or resource-heavy programs and even other browser tabs should be your priority when troubleshooting Netflix on a desktop computer.
Windows and OS X users may run into problems watching Netflix videos using their favoured browser. Often the indication is that you need to install Silverlight – often when the software (used for streaming the video to your browser) is already installed!
Checking the right version of Silverlight is installed is important – do this by opening Start, typing “silverlight” in the Search box and selecting Microsoft Silverlight from the displayed list of programs. In the About tab, check the version number is 5.0.61118.0 or higher – if it isn’t, head to the Microsoft Silverlight download page to update.
Linux users are unable to run Netflix without virtualizing Windows or employing a Wine-like application layer.
Improve Netflix Speed On Mobile Devices
As with viewing Netflix on your desktop you should take special care to check that there are no resource-hogging background apps on your mobile that might be causing problems with playback. For best results, restart your phone or tablet before running Netflix, and disable any notifications and messaging services.
Remember that if your data plan is capped you may have issues with Netflix streaming content when you meet or approach your limit. Similarly, metered data plans will prove very expensive – Netflix might be great value, but is it worth eating up your bank account for?
Get Better Netflix Streaming On Consoles
So how did I fix Network streaming issues (accompanied by the message “Your Internet connection has slowed. We are adjusting playback to avoid further interruption”) on my Nintendo Wii? As it happened, the fault – which stuttered between not playing at all and displaying blocky video – was due to bandwidth, and the main culprit was my PC upstairs where a certain amount of downloading was taking place.
Interestingly I was also told that “This Title Is Temporarily Unavailable“. In most cases, this problem is fixed within a day or so, although I was intrigued to find it happening at the same time as the previous error – I hope I didn’t break the video file!
For Xbox 360 users, Netflix issues can be almost all be resolved using the general principles section above. In addition, you can check the service status for Xbox Live and Netflix at support.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-live-status.
For PS3 users, system clock issues might result in the message “We’re unable to connect you to Netflix. Please try again later“. From the home menu, open Settings > Date and Time Settings > Date and Time, select the Set Manually option and adjust as necessary. Confirm the changes and exit – you should now be able to launch Netflix.
If this doesn’t work, you will need to uninstall and reinstall the Netflix app.
Conclusion: Tried Them All? Try Again Later!
The tips and tricks above are grouped by device type, but they all have one thing in common – if they don’t work, it doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is at your end, so you should try again later.
This might not be ideal if you’re holding a Netflix party or just want to catch up with some of their original programming, but it is a fact of life that even the most awesome online streaming services go offline occasionally.
In the meantime, if you have any suggestions to improve and resolve Netflix streaming issues, let us know in the comments section.