How to Troubleshoot Video & Audio Playback Issues on Your Windows PC

Gavin Phillips 29-01-2015

We’ve all been there. You’ve downloaded the latest episode of Peppa Pig. The kids are ready. You hit play and the screen is black. There is no sound. Your children hate you, freak out and elicit more noise than a jet engine. The horror.


Luckily your problem is likely to be a common Windows issue that we can help you troubleshoot right here, right now. The kids will be quiet and maybe even buy you a birthday present if you are lucky (albeit with your own money!).

Video – Issues With Codec Packs

One of the most common Windows Media Player error messages is:

Windows Media Player cannot play the file. The Player might not support the file type or might not support the codec that was used to compress the file.

In the bad old days you would download a codec installer Video Or Audio File Not Working? CodecInstaller May Be Your Answer [Windows] It's a miserable feeling when you've just spent hours downloading that video, by torrent, only for it to be a complete dud when you go to watch it. It's been voted, starred, commented, and reviewed... Read More , such as K-Lite, Shark007, or CCCP and then fire up your video. Whilst these codecs do provide support for a massive range of video formats, there is a much easier and safer solution to your problems.

VLC Supported Video

We’d advise downloading VLC Media Player. This trusted video player VLC Media Player Beta For Windows 8 Spotted In Microsoft's Windows Store VLC media player (beta) has been spotted in the Windows Store. It's welcome, though it has taken a long time to arrive, and the bugs still need to be ironed out. Read More , is free, cross-platform Ditch iTunes & Use VLC For iPhone & iPad Media VLC for iOS does rather a lot that Apple would probably rather it didn't. It's also better than iTunes for media on the go. Here's why. Read More , and best of all the developers have done all the legwork for you. It supports a massive range of video and audio formats, features tons of useful advanced video tweaking features, and does it all with a clean, basic GUI. See above for an outline of supported video formats. FYI, they are not all listed!



If you’re not keen on using a different video player 4 Windows Media Player Alternatives for Windows 8 Read More , but are still experiencing video playback issues, WMP Repair might be able to help you. It quickly re-registers all the DLLs associated with Windows Media Player and can fix a range of issues.

WMP Repair

Remember to create a system restore point What You Need To Know About Windows System Restore Imagine the trouble you could find yourself in, if your system failed! The Windows System Restore feature could save your butt. This article explains how to create and use Windows restore points. Read More before running any software that installs or registers DLLs, so you can fall back if there are any unexpected issues.

Video – Check Your Hardware and Drivers

Video playback issues can often be attributed directly to your system hardware and the drivers that are required to support each component. Drivers are small pieces of software that tell your hardware how to perform and are critical to your system performance.


Device Manager

You can easily check the status of your hardware via the Device Manager. In Windows 7 and 10, click  the Windows key to open the Start Menu and search for Device Manager. In Windows 8.1 and 10, click Windows key + S to open the search menu. If there is a yellow exclamation mark next to Display Adapters, this could be your video playback problem. Double-clicking your adapter will bring up the properties menu where your device information will be displayed, along with any errors.

Selecting the Drivers tab will show you several options, including Update Driver. Clicking it will allow you to choose to either Search Automatically or Browse Your Computer. If you have already downloaded the driver directly from the manufacturer How Can I Install Hardware With Unsigned Drivers in Windows 8? To protect the average user, Windows 8 requires all hardware drivers have a digital signature before you can install them, making it more difficult to install malicious drivers. Read More website, select the latter, browse to their location and install. If not, select Search Automatically and Windows will trawl your computer and the Internet How To Safely & Easily Update Your Video Card Drivers Hunting for device drivers isn't such a task anymore, anyway. Most of your Windows drivers will never need to be touched right out of the box. Your video card is in its own sacred territory... Read More to find the correct drivers for your hardware and then install them.

Driver Installer


Sound – No Sound at All

With sound problems, it is important to check the audio basics Computer Speakers Not Working? How to Fix Having No Sound Sound issues on a Windows PC are annoying. If your speakers aren't working, here's how to fix it and get sound back on your computer. Read More before heading onto any detailed troubleshooting.


Check the mute button – it happens all the time, especially on laptops. Also check the speakers you are attempting to play sound through. Quickly attach another device to the speaker input to ensure it is your computer and not your speaker units. Also double check any amplifiers and cabling in general. If everything is looking good, then you can be sure that it’s your system and not your hardware.

Windows has a handy, built-in audio troubleshooter Modern Or Broken? Important Tips For Troubleshooting Windows 8 Apps Windows 8 is shiny and new, bringing an entirely new and different application model and ecosystem. No matter how experienced you are at troubleshooting previous versions of Windows, you won’t be fully prepared to start... Read More that checks common problems with your hardware, drivers, speakers, and headphones.


Troubleshoot Audio

Click the Windows key to open the Start Menu (Windows 7 and 10) or click Windows key + S (Windows 8.1 and 10), type Troubleshooting, and select the first result. On older versions of Windows you’ll have to head to Start > Control Panel > Troubleshooting. Under Hardware and Sound select Troubleshoot audio playback and complete the troubleshooter. This should resolve any common audio issues, whilst also checking and updating your drivers if required.

Similarly, if you are using USB speakers you can follow the same instructions to check if your USB drivers need updating.

Manually Check Your Drivers

See the above section titled “Video – Check Your Hardware and Drivers”.

Head to the same Device Manager, but this time check for a yellow exclamation mark next to Sound, Video and Game Controllers. Select the problematic sound driver and update, as per the previous sections instructions.

Sound Driver

Most laptops have an integrated sound card, so you may see High Definition Audio Device, depending on the age of your laptop. This will also appear under the same section in the device manager.

Extra Mute Buttons

The Windows Volume Mixer has individual mute buttons for almost all applications Never Be Embarrassed By Your Computer's Speakers Blasting Sound Again [Windows] Have you ever pulled out your laptop in public and had to fumble for the mute button as its speakers blasted loud sounds? Or have you used your computer late at night and accidentally woke... Read More . Open the mixer by right-clicking the volume symbol in your system-tray, bottom right of the screen. Check that the application you are using to play audio isn’t muted.

Volume Mixer

Sound – Restart Audio Services

Windows has an uncanny knack for disabling certain services. Audio services certainly don’t escape this ‘helping’ hand. Services are long-running executable applications that keep your system ticking over. They manage devices, your audio, monitor settings, remember passwords 10 Startup Programs You Can Safely Disable to Speed Up Windows Computer booting slowly? You probably have too many programs running at startup. Here's how to disable startup programs on Windows. Read More and much, much more. Their user interface isn’t obvious and must be accessed through the Control Panel.

Services Manager

Head to the Start Menu (Windows 7 and 10) or Windows Search (Windows 8.1 and 10), type Services, and select the matching result. This should open the Services manager panel. Scroll down to Windows Audio. If the service has been stopped for any reason, your system audio will not function correctly. Restart it by double-clicking and selecting Start. Whilst you are here double-check the service start-up type. Audio services should be set to Automatic by default. If it is anything different – Automatic (delayed start), Manual or Disabled – change it back.

Another quick fix can be restarting the Windows Audio Endpoint Builder, usually located below Windows Audio. Whilst this service says it has Started, sometimes restarting it can fix audio issues. Do this by double-clicking the service, then selecting Stop followed by Start.

Service Manager2

Sound – Crackling or Distortion

Crackling or distortion through your speakers can be dreadful. Before any system checks, ensure your connections are up to scratch Here's Why Your Headphones Keep Breaking (And What You Can Do) How long do your headphones last? If they're breaking too quickly, here's why and what you can do to prolong their lifespan. Read More . They may just inserting that little bit further, or a bit of a wiggle.

If that doesn’t work, try looking at any speaker enhancements. Enhancements are optional audio effects such as bass boost or virtual surround sound. They can be handy in some situations but can also cause audio issues.

Playback Devices

Right click the volume symbol in the system-tray and select Playback Devices. This will open the Sound window where you can see each audio device installed on your system. Selecting Speakers will open the properties menu where you should select Enhancements. Try disabling each enhancement and hitting Apply to test, or, select Disable all enhancements to kill the entire lot.

Speaker Properties


One of these fixes should have sorted your audio or video playback issues on your Windows system. They won’t cure everything, but they will certainly get close to a wide range of irritating, rage inducing problems. Hopefully you’re now watching that episode of Peppa Pig you were so desperate to see.

Have we helped troubleshoot your audio or video problem? Do you have any nifty fixes for common problems? Let us know below!

Related topics: Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1.

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  1. Rakiya
    June 20, 2017 at 10:56 am

    I use an acer aspire es14 windows 8.. Whenever i'm watching a movie, it cracks badly no matter d player i use..wen it started cracking, it wasnt very its worse.what do i do?

  2. abc
    August 21, 2016 at 11:26 am

    video wont play on my laptop neither does the audio tried all of the above solutions but still wont play....
    what's the problem?? cant figure it out

  3. badack
    June 16, 2016 at 5:29 am

    holy S..... VLC really solved my problem! I've installed K-lite, still no video, only audio. Tried Potplayer, still no go.
    then I install VLC..... Wham! Video displayed! But how can it be? Whats wrong? Why VLC can play video while other player cant? Mystery....

  4. something
    April 24, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Disabled enhancements, restarted audio services, checked all drivers in device manager and seperate programs specific for the headset in question, attempted different headsets to exclude the device from the issue.
    Still get crackling/distortion in sound on certain sound levels as well as when loading webpages with videos playing.
    Also tried different media players but it has the same result.

    Only tip given here is to take off the enhancement, there's really no other fix? That can't be right.

  5. Meena
    March 29, 2015 at 5:18 am

    i have a very annoying problem with sound on windows 8.1 x64 pro
    the sound works, but it just keeps stopping suddenly, sometimes if i'm playing some tracks on winamp for example, it stops after a track and the next one doesn't work. the sound stops working at all.
    Restarting Windows Audio Endpoint Builder works and the sound works fine, but for a while, it keeps stopping working like that from time to time.
    the drivers seems fine. i installed the drivers from the Dell website and they are installed without a problem.
    this problem is only there in windows 8.1.. i reinstalled windows for some reasons and it was working fine for while, now it started to happen again.
    i don't have the same problem with windows 7 or ubuntu (both are also installed along side windows 8.1 and are working fine without problems).
    so for now, restarting windows audio endpoint builder is a temporary fix. is there a permanent fix for that? i don't even know where the probelm starts...
    any ideas?