Consumer Reports: Speeding up your Internet streaming
Streaming video can be annoying! It's no fun waiting and waiting for videos to load or enduring movies that constantly stop and buffer. Consumer Reports has some simple fixes that can smooth out those broadband speed bumps.
One of the first steps is to make sure you're getting enough broadband speed from your Internet provider. Netflix says to stream an HD movie, you need a minimum of 5 megabits per second. But that's only for a home with a single user. For homes where several people will be online at once, Consumer Reports says you'll want faster speeds, from 25 to 50 megabits per second.
The Internet service you purchase specifies the broadband speed you are supposed to get, but what you actually get can vary a lot. For example, streaming can slow down in evenings after work when a lot of your neighbors are also online.
You can get a quick read of your speed at various times by going to a website like Speedtest.net. If you need to upgrade your service, it should cost only another $5 to $10 per month to get to the next speed tier.
Be aware that the problem might be with the modem, which brings the signal into your house. If you're using an older modem, replacing it with a newer model can help improve speeds. If you rent your modem, ask your Internet provider to replace it with a newer model.
And if you have Wi-Fi, make sure your router is new enough. Check the manufacturer's website under technical specs to see that it supports the 802.11n standard. If you need to upgrade your router, consider a recent Consumer Reports Best Buy, the $90 Netgear model N750.
There's one easy fix that often works. Try rebooting your modem and wireless routers by unplugging the power for about 30 seconds. That will often clear up any problems you're having.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.