Everybody has experienced that moment (or suffers it frequently) when your internet is working against you by being slow or flat out dropping.  These kinds of things can have various causes, below I will go over them.  This article focuses on how to combat Twitch buffering, but it can also enhance your overall internet experience on Youtube and/or other streaming sites.

Detecting problems with Twitch

  • Check the status of Twitch on the Twitch Status website
  • The official Twitch and Twitch Support Twitter accounts will usually post if there is an issue
  • Also check the Twitch Subreddit.  When there are Twitch problems, people will usually make posts complaining about them on the SubReddit

Identifying and Fixing Bitrate Issues

If Twitch appears to be working fine and nobody is reporting issues, there is a chance the buffering you are having is the result of a high bitrate (the speed at which a streamer’s broadcast is downloaded to your computer).  The first step is identifying a broadcast’s bitrate and assessing your options.

Old Player – Finding Playback Statistics

  • Right click on the stream and choose “Video playback stats”
  • On the playback stats you can see the bitrate which is being used. Here you can also see the delay you have with the stream too, which is displayed in the line “Broadcaster Latency”

New HTML5 Player – Finding Playback Statistics

  • Click the cog wheel and click “Video Playback Stats”
  • There you will see the bitrate and delay of the stream

Once you have that information, you can act accordingly to attempt to fix the issue.  The solution differs between Partnered / Top 1200 Streamers and Non-Partnered Streamers.

Partnered Streamers and Top 1200 Streamers

You will come across transcoding (quality) options on partnered streamer’s channels.  Twitch also allocates resources to give the top 1200 streams at any given time quality options, regardless if they are partnered or not. Partnered and top 1200 streamers often broadcast around the recommended 3500kb/s bitrate because the quality options allow viewers to set their stream to their ideal download speed. There is a possibility your download speed or computer can not handle the current bitrate and will buffer.  If this is the case, then you can use quality options in the player menu.  This will allow you to pick a suitable quality for your connection.

Old Player – Changing Quality

  • At the bottom of the player towards the right, click on the quality name currently set (Source, High, Medium, Low, Mobile) to get all the possible quality options
  • Start at Source and keep lowering the quality until you no longer have buffering while watching

New HTML5 Player – Changing Quality

  • Click the cog at the bottom right of the player
  • Find the “Video Quality” drop down menu
  • Start at Source and keep lowering the quality until you no longer have buffering while watching

Non-Partnered Streamers

When a non-partnered streamer’s broadcast is peaking over 2500kb/s you can ask/advise the streamer to lower it.  When a non-partnered streamer broadcasts above 2500kb/s they are limiting the audience that can watch their streams.  Sometimes a streamer does not realize that he/she is using too high of a bitrate for the average viewer.

Other Causes of Buffering and Connection Issues

Problems with your browser

If you can use another browser without issue, then your problems are likely with that specific browser.  You can possibly fix this by disabling all extensions besides Flash in your browser.  Afterwards, turn the extensions back on one by one to find the troublemaker.  Clearing the cookies and cache in your browser can help too.

Bad connection to Twitch

Various things can cause a bad connection to Twitch such as a slow DNS-server or Twitch Video Server.  Refreshing the page over and over until you get a good connection can help, but you’re best off changing your DNS server if issues persist.

Problems with Your ISP and Connection Throttling

You can check the website of your ISP to see if there are problems. If it is your ISP you cannot do much besides waiting it out.  If you have no connection at all, it may be worth calling your ISP to ask about outages in the area.  They may not be aware of the problem yet.

If you have a slower connection than you should, this may mean your ISP is slowing your connection down on purpose (throttling). By going to Measurement Labs you can test if you are being throttled. Just scroll down on the page and hit “Start Test”.  In the “Details” you can see if your connection is being throttled and you will also see your upload and download speed.

If everything is fine on the Measurement Labs test you will see this result:

“No duplex mismatch condition was detected.  The test did not detect a cable fault.  No network congestion was detected.”

Using External Players to View Twitch

One way to get around Twitch viewing issues is to try using desktop applications to watch streams.  You can use various programs to watch a stream with your desired media player.

Pros: You have a better connection to Twitch and you do not need to use Flash, your delay on the stream is shorter and you often get better video quality.

Cons: You have to open the chat in a separate window by using Chatty or Twitch’s popout chat.

Tardsplaya

Tardsplaya

Tardsplaya

Download and unpack Tardsplaya. You can use 7-zip to unpack the .zip file.

How to use Tardsplaya:

  1. Open the program and type the username of the streamer you want to watch
  2. Click on “Load” then select the quality option you wish to view at
  3. Click on “Watch” and the stream loads in your default media player
  4. You can select a different media player in the options menu

Livestreamer

Livestreamer GUI

Livestreamer GUI

Essentially Livestreamer does the same thing, but the difference is that you have more options on how to configure it and it offers more possibilities. There is not much configuration needed, by default livestreamer opens streams in VLC player. By changing a few options you can use MPC-HC, MPlayer2 and some more media players.

For more information read my Reddit post about how to setup Livestreamer with Chatty and setup the Livestreamer GUI.

Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you sort through the reasons you incur buffering and helped you fix them.  I’ve personally discovered that changing my DNS-server is quite effective for enhancing my internet experience and highly recommend it.  With Livestreamer GUI I have found more ways to watch other streamers.  When watching them I rarely had buffering which is really great.  You can also set notifications in the GUI when your favorite streamer goes live, this way you miss them less.

For more information and solutions check this Reddit guide.

Thank you for reading and also, a thank you to SuperBadJuJu for making my article more enjoyable to read.

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Helixia
Helixia is the name. Some years ago I started playing PC games and since then, I can't keep my hands off them! When gaming, I like to share my experience while I discover the game with everyone who comes along. Join me on my journey and visit me on Twitch at twitch.tv/helixia!

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