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Why is My Chromecast Buffering?

Why is My Chromecast Buffering?

The term “buffering” denotes the intermittent pauses when playing videos online. The phenomena could be due to slow internet coupled with heavy files—for instance, a 4K HDR video.

The Google Chromecast is an excellent device for streaming online content to a TV. But it’s not perfect. For instance, it has heating issues. There’s also buffering, ruining the viewing experience.  

A Chromecast buffers if it’s too far from the router, the internet is not speedy enough to play data-heavy content, the source device has apps working in the background, and other things.

Read on to learn more about those issues and the possible fixes.

Why Chromecasts Buffer and the Fixes

Chromecast plugged in to power and connected to TV

Before delving more and finding a solution, reboot the devices in the setup first. A restart is the first step in troubleshooting any electronic gadget.

Turn off all devices. Disconnect your TV, router, and Chromecast from their power sources. Plug them back in and power them on after a few minutes. Kindly wait for a few minutes before proceeding further.

Try casting content from your phone or laptop again and see if the buffering persists. If it buffers no more, the problem’s solved. But if the buffering continues, investigate further.   

Also, a reboot rejuvenates and makes minor corrections. It may not fix a deeper concern with a device. It’s possible the buffering will happen again. Therefore, do not stop with the rebooting and dig deep for a permanent solution.

The following are the possible reasons your Chromecast could be misbehaving.

Chromecast is Physically Hidden

Chromecast is used with a TV

If the Chromecast plugs into the back of your TV and is entirely out of sight during use, it may have difficulty receiving Wi-Fi signals, depending on the router’s positioning.

Moving the dongle to the front or making it less discreet could spoil the clean TV look, but doing so may improve the range and lead to better streaming.

Solution: Use the HDMI extender supplied with your Chromecast. If the streaming device didn’t come with one or the extension is not long enough, use a third-party accessory, like this UGREEN HDMI Extension Cable .

To set it up, insert the extension cable’s HDMI connector into your TV’s HDMI port, and your Chromecast plugs into the extender’s HDMI port.

While you’re at it, move the router closer to the TV as much as possible. Place it in the open if it’s hidden—for instance, under the table. Also, make sure the router’s antennas are fully stretched. 

Fluctuating Power Supply

Chromecast plugged into a monitor

Chromecasts use a USB-A port for power. They either plug into the TV’s USB port or use a wall adapter.

With the TV as the power source, there could be random power cycling, fluctuations, or insufficient power, causing the Chromecast to crash, freeze, struggle with Wi-Fi signals, etc.

Solution: Unplug the Chromecast from the TV’s USB port and hook it up with a USB power adapter instead. You may use your phone’s charging adapter. If you don’t have a spare lying, look at the Amazon Basics One-Port 12W USB Wall Adapter .

The wall brick will power the Chromecast reliably and prevent the streaming device from rebooting each time you turn off the TV.

Multiple Apps Active on the Source Device

featured apps showing on smart TV screen

If your smartphone or laptop streaming to your Chromecast has a few other applications open or running in the background, they may interfere with the streaming and cause the Chromecast to buffer.

Solution: Close all apps running in the background when streaming to your Chromecast.

If downloading content, pause the download. Or wrap up the download and then stream content to your Chromecast.

High-Resolution Video Streaming

A woman using smart TV

4K videos are great to look at. But they also require a lot more internet bandwidth to push.

If your internet’s not up to speed, your Chromecast will struggle to play 4K content.

The Chromecast is undoubtedly capable but is limited by broadband speed and bandwidth.

Solution: Dial down the video resolution or get faster internet. Lowering video settings to improve playback is more feasible in the immediate term.

The quality could dip, but the video will still be watchable.

Check playback performance at different resolutions to find the right balance between performance and quality.

Another option is to play local files. Download the content onto your device (phone or computer) and cast it to Chromecast, eliminating the need for high-speed internet.

Video-sharing websites (such as YouTube) and streaming sites (like Netflix and Prime Video) let you download videos and cast them to your TV from the app or browser.

You can cast downloaded content from a web browser like Google Chrome or use a third-party media player.

Here are the steps to cast content from your computer to your TV using the Chrome browser:

Step 1: Open Google Chrome on your computer. Make sure the browser is the latest version.

Step 2: Click on the vertical dots at the top right corner of your screen.

Step 3: Click on the “Cast” option from the list. A small “Cast to” tab will open right after.

Step 4: Choose the Chromecast you’d like to cast to if you have multiple Chromecasts connected. You can cast a particular tab, the entire window, or a file stored on the computer.  

Step 5: Select what you’d like to cast and to what Chromecast and the casting shall begin right away.

The video shall start playing in the Chrome browser on your computer, which will get mirrored to your TV.

Note: The browser must stay open for the casting to continue. If you minimize the window, the mirroring will stop.

Another technique is using a media player like VLC. If you don’t already have the tool, download it from here (Windows | Mac) for free.

Here are the instructions to cast from the media player:

Step 1: Launch the app. Click on the “Playback” option in the tool’s menu section.

Step 2: From the options that drop down, navigate to “Renderer.”

Step 3: The listed Chromecast device will show below. Click on it to cast content.

Again, do not close or minimize the window for uninterrupted casting.

The Router is Not Up to Speed

TV and wifi router

Most modern routers do video streaming just fine. However, they may struggle to stream 4K content through a streaming device, like Chromecast, especially when multiple devices are connected.

Solution: If your router has just one antenna sticking out, it certainly doesn’t support the 5 GHz band. That also means it’s time for a new router.

The Linksys EA7500  is an excellent dual-band router for the job. The MU MIMO feature ensures high speeds for multiple devices simultaneously.

The TP-Link AX1500 Smart Wi-Fi Router  is our second and relatively pocket-friendly choice.  

Spotty or Burdened Wireless Connection

A plagued wireless connection will hurt your Chromecast streaming experience.

The reasons for the problem could be multifold, such as more than one device using the same router and eating into the bandwidth or a distantly positioned router.

There could be technical issues with the network too. The cables transporting the internet to your house could be damaged.

a black wifi router on the white table

Solution: Make sure the internet is on and working. Check the status by connecting other devices to it. If they connect, the internet is good.

When connected to the 5 GHz band, ensure your Chromecast is not too far. The 5 GHz band outputs strong Wi-Fi signals but has a limited range (less than 23 meters or 75 feet) and minimal wall penetrating capacity.

Connect to the 2.4 GHz band if the distance is greater. But then 2.4 GHz speeds could be too slow to stream 4K content, and the buffering may not go away.

If you need 5 GHz speeds but cannot cut the distance short between the router and Chromecast, bridge them with a Wi-Fi mesh or extender.

A Wi-Fi extender, like the TP-Link AC750 , connects to the router wirelessly and rebroadcasts the signal to push it further.

A more modern and holistic solution is a Wi-Fi mesh network system. The mesh system joins multiple Wi-Fi access points to make and share one seamless Wi-Fi network.

A mesh setup, like the TP-Link Deco S4 Mesh Wi-Fi System , is ideal for large buildings or homes.

Watch this video to learn more about how the two work and what’s best for your needs:

Mesh Wi-Fi vs. range extenders: The best option for your home

Another option is to go “wired.”

Tether the Chromecast to your router using an Ethernet adapter, such as this UGREEN Ethernet Adapter . If the power brick has an Ethernet port, like the Chromecast Ultra’s power adapter, skip the Ethernet adapter. You’ll only need an Ethernet cable.

To connect the devices using the adapter, here are the steps:

Step 1: Insert the micro-USB connector from the Ethernet adapter’s cable into the Chromecast’s corresponding port.

Step 2: Plug the USB-A connector into your TV’s USB port or wall adapter for the power supply.

Step 3: Put one side of the Ethernet cable into the Ethernet adapter and the other end to the router to establish the connection.

If you don’t have an Ethernet cable or the existing one is not long enough, check out the Amazon Basics RJ45 Cat-6 Ethernet Patch Internet Cable . Pick your length.

If your Chromecast’s power brick has an Ethernet port already, as mentioned earlier, plug the cable directly into the power adapter.

Old Chromecast

a 1st-gen Chromecast with its original box on wooden surface

If you’re still using the first or second-gen Chromecast, issues like overheating and buffering can be common concerns.

The hardware may be too old for advanced streaming sessions, and software updates may not be able to help. Even if your internet and TV are 4K-capable, the Chromecast will struggle to push the signals through.

Solution: Buy a new Chromecast. The latest Chromecast with Google TV is the latest offering (2020 model). It also comes with a dedicated remote, a first for Chromecasts.  

Kindly note that the new Chromecast will guarantee zero buffering only if the above concerns are addressed.

If the router is out of reach, the device will not go out of its way to fetch the Wi-Fi signals.

The TV Could Be the Bottleneck

hand holding a loose HDMI cable connected to TV

While you’re at it, check if the HDMI port on the TV is not broken. Perhaps, the TV is too old to keep up with the Chromecast or the quick streaming requirements.

Solution: If your TV has multiple HDMI ports, try switching the port. You’re out of luck if the TV has just one HDMI port.

In that case, plug the USB connector on a USB to HDMI adapter, like this Krevi USB to HDMI Adapter , into the TV’s USB port and stick the Chromecast into the adapter’s HDMI port.

If the TV is too old, get a new HDTV. But buy a new television only if you’re sure the existing TV is lacking or an upgrade is pending.

The Streaming Network Could Be Busy

If the streaming app’s servers are busy, the increased network traffic could slow down streams.

Solution: Wait for the network traffic to ease. An alternative is to use a VPN, like ExpressVPN.  

Using VPN to watch TV

ISPs (internet service providers) could sometimes throttle or slow down certain kinds of traffic artificially. VPNs can bypass the traffic by assigning a new browsing location to the user, improving speeds.

At times, the particular streaming site’s servers could be congested. In those scenarios, you have no option but to wait.

Conclusion

Google Chromecast on box

Despite the proliferation of smart TVs, many people still buy Chromecasts for the solid value proposition.

But, as mentioned above, Chromecast is not perfect. The heating problems are the biggest knock against the device. Buffering is another problem commonly associated with the streaming dongle.

Luckily, there are ways to address the issue. If you’re experiencing buffering with your device, check off the following:

  • Ensure the Chromecast is not hidden out of sight
  • The streaming device’s power supply is solid and steady
  • The casting device has no interfering apps active
  • Video resolution is not too rich for the internet connection
  • The router is not outdated
  • Chromecast and TV are not too old for the setup
  • Wireless connectivity is on point
  • The ISP network servers and the streaming site are not congested

If there’s still no respite, contact Google for more personalized assistance.

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