10 Ways to Minimize Video Buffering Issues While Streaming
Video streaming has gained massive popularity in various industries, especially post-COVID. Recent research found that people spent 482.5 billion hours worldwide on live-streaming apps. This makes sluggish video buffering an enemy to the progress of live stream broadcasters.
So how do you minimize video buffering and ensure a great customer experience as a broadcaster? Poor internet connection, not using a CDN, and live broadcasting software overload are some causes you may be looking at.
Whether you’re in the media entertainment space or want to deliver a smooth e-learning experience, this post is for you.
You’ll learn how to fix video buffering issues to make your video broadcasts more effective, keep your audience engaged, and attract more viewers.
But first, let’s understand what video buffering is and what causes it.
What is Video Buffering?
Video buffering refers to when your video hosting software preloads data segments into a reserved memory called a buffer. Your audience can then watch video and audio content as more data downloads in the background to ensure consistent video playback.
In an ideal situation, video buffering is hardly noticeable if everything loads at optimum speed. However, more often than not, it gets slow, causing an unpleasant streaming experience for your audience.
When a video buffers, it looks something like what’s shown in the image below:
Although buffering technically refers to the preloading process, this delay is commonly referred to as buffering – often with a negative connotation.
So what this post discusses from here on out is the delay in the preloading process and how you can fix it for a better streaming experience.
What Causes Video Buffering?
The causes of video buffering can either be on your user’s side or your side. While you may not fix all the problems on the user’s side, here are possible ones you could look out for:
1. Internet Connectivity Problems
Unstable internet connections are the most common cause of buffering issues.
Your internet bandwidth needs to be able to support your live stream. Every network has a bandwidth cap, which is determined by your internet service provider and your connectivity plan. This is especially the case for wireless connectivity.
Your bandwidth cap will determine how much data you can transmit at once. If this is lower than the data needed to stream your video, it means that your internet will not be able to upload your video and keep up with playback at the same time. This causes video buffering issues. You’ll need to be aware of your internet speed before streaming video to allocate buffer conveniently.
Allocating 50% of your internet bandwidth to buffering is usually enough. For instance, if you’re streaming at 5Mbps, your connection should be at least 10Mbps for consistent playback.
2. Heavy Video/Audio Files
Large video files that are bulky and have high resolution could bring video buffering troubles to the user. For instance, a 4K video file is significantly larger than a 720p one.
Users who need higher live streaming quality are more likely to encounter video buffering problems.
For this reason, you may need to upload your video files and compress them into many forms. This way, depending on your user’s device or connectivity, they’ll be able to stream videos in the resolution that their internet bandwidth and the device can handle.
The same goes for HD as opposed to SD content. Streaming high-definition videos can also mess with your network’s bandwidth. HD content contains more data per frame, therefore would need more data packets to download. This makes them more prone to slow buffering.
10 Ways to Stop Your Video From Buffering When Live Streaming
Now that you know the possible causes of video buffering, here are suggestions on how you can fix them to provide a great experience to your viewers.
1. Use Content Delivery Networks (CDN)
The most effective video hosting platforms use top-tier CDN tools.
CDNs are essential to live video streaming as they ensure users get low latency and quicker stream startup times. CDNs do this by making data accessible to the user from a server closest to them, instead of a central server.
When you stream a live video, most CDN networks cache the most recent HTTP live streaming bits on their numerous servers around the globe. This content is sent to the nearest server once a viewer accesses the stream.
Here’s what happens when you don’t use a CDN:
Let’s say you’re broadcasting from the US using a San Francisco-based server. If a user in London requests for a stream or some other online video content, they’ll be doing so from your server, which is located very far away from them.
As a result, this will create video buffering, which will, in turn, interfere with your live stream.
Instead, if you deliver this stream through a CDN, the user would request your content from their closest server in London.
This is how CDNs reduce latency, avoid video buffering, and ensure smoother streaming.
2. Consider VPS Hosting
Using a VPS allows you to host your network on a private server.
If your business relies on video marketing, you may want to consider this option. Using a virtual private server for hosting enables you to distribute your data without dividing the host’s resources among users.
It lets you host your network on a dedicated operating system and hardware. This translates to full performance, which means no video buffering when streaming.
The alternative to this would be shared hosting, which could get slow, or dedicated hosting, which is expensive.
A virtual private server will suffice if you’re just starting out. Depending on your hosting service of choice, you can even scale your business on a VPS.
3. Embed Videos on Existing Streaming Platforms
Mslive allows you to embed live stream videos on your website.
If getting a CDN or a VPS is costly, then you can embed live stream videos on your websites within streaming platforms to prevent video buffering.
For instance, popular streaming sites like YouTube let public content creators embed videos on their websites for free.
This is especially convenient for businesses that want to use videos as part of their content marketing strategy. It’s easy to have such videos on your site because, besides being free, you’ll do very little of the encoding as most of it is already done for you.
For instance, YouTube auto-adjusts your video size depending on a user’s internet speed, which mitigates part of your video streaming buffering problems.
4. Choose the Right Web Hosting Service
Your video hosting platform also contributes to how well your streaming experience will be. Here are factors to look out for when choosing a video streaming platform for minimal video buffering.
- Cloud Infrastructure: The bare minimum in infrastructure is an AWS or Google-driven server to transcode, encode and distribute content through CDN providers, and storage to guarantee seamless playback worldwide.
The platform should also provide feasible ways to upload data from desktop, mobile devices, Dropbox, etc.
- Secure Video Hosting: Another important thing to consider would be if your platform uses Digital Rights Management/ DRM encryption. Your video security needs to be safe prior to and during streaming, hence the need for DRM-encrypted streaming technology.
- Customer Support: How supportive is your streaming software customer service when you’re encountering broadcasting issues on their platform? Every enterprise customer expects great customer support from their video hosting platform, and so should you.
You’ll need better communication channels set in place and, if possible, a dedicated team to handle your specific business streaming needs.
- Plugins, Embedding, and Integrations: Ensure your platform of choice can easily integrate with your existing website, for instance, having APIs and plugins.
Your video broadcasting software should also enable you to embed videos on your websites and on social media platforms.
5. Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) Streaming
Adaptive bitrate streaming changes the video quality based on the users’ connection.
Using adaptive bitrate transcoding also helps fix video buffering mishaps. Adaptive bitrate streaming is a video streaming process that automatically detects and changes a user’s video quality settings based on their internet speed and bandwidth.
Here’s how adaptive bitrate streaming works:
When videos get uploaded, they’re not stored in one fixed bitrate. Rather, they’re compressed in different bitrate streams ranging between 50 and 4,000kbps.
If a user’s internet bandwidth doesn’t support 4,000kbps, they’ll be able to view it at a lower rate – one that their connectivity allows.
Consequently, there will be minimal video buffering. The quality of the video may become hazy or clear depending on internet connectivity.
ABS functions are, however, not only limited to internet bandwidth. The technology can also auto-select appropriate bitrates based on the device’s screen size and appropriate resolution.
Adaptive Bitrate was designed to operate over massively distributed HTTP networks and relies solely on HTTP.
Time to Put an End to Your Video Buffering Issues
Videos are crucial to content marketing, which makes video optimization a key component of your marketing success.
One way of optimizing your viewers’ streaming experience is to minimize video buffering, and this post has listed the best techniques to achieve that.
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