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Smoothing out web video

Question : How can I make streaming video from websites play more smoothly, without all the starting, stopping and stuttering ?

Answer : Video playback from websites can be affected by traffic congestion on the Internet, a computer's connection speed and the software used to play the clips.

Most web video is meant to be played over a broadband Internet connection, so if you are using dial-up, the experience may be continually frustrating.

For everyone else, make sure your computer meets the site's requirements for video. Most websites with video players offer a help link somewhere on the homepage to troubleshoot specific problems with the site and its software.

Sometimes updating a machine with the new version of Adobe Flash, Windows Media Player or whatever video program the site is using for its clips can help.

If you are getting a lot of stuttering, or video that stops abruptly for a few seconds in the middle of the stream, try clicking the Pause button on the player's window.

This should stop the playback of the clip, but allow the video stream to continue downloading to the web browser. Once you see the progress bar at the bottom of the video window fill in, press the Play button to see if the clip will stream without stuttering.

Some programs like RealPlayer allow adjustment of the buffer -- number of seconds or minutes of the clip that downloads to the computer before the video starts playing.

It may take longer to start playing, but increasing the buffer time can often help smooth out overall playback; check the program's options or preferences for the buffer settings.

If you are suffering through poor video quality on sites using Windows Media Player, you might try adjusting the Video Acceleration setting to see if it improves the picture.

To do so, start Windows Media Player, go to the Tools menu and selection Options. Click on the Performance tab and use the slider bar to adjust the Video Acceleration.

Turning it down or off can sometimes help fix garbled audio or choppy video. Click the OK button, close Windows Media Player and try the website again.


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