If you’re looking for a reasonably-priced device to host your home media center, you could do far worse than an Amazon Firestick or Fire TV. After all, these have their own app store that includes both Kodi and any other streaming service you can think of. The only downside is that these are fairly low-powered systems, which can cause playback issues like buffering if they’re not properly set up.
Not to worry, though: we’re here to help. Below, we’ll shed some light on why Kodi might be struggling to keep up with your streaming habits and provide a few easy fixes to the most common causes of buffering. That way, you can get back to your favorite shows as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Warning: Kodi should only be used for content to which you have the legal right to access. Neither the Kodi Foundation nor Comparitech advocates the use of Kodi for piracy.
First off: always use a VPN with Kodi
Did you know that your service provider can see whatever you get up to online? Believe it or not, this might be the cause of your buffering problem since many ISPs reduce their customers’ speeds if they stream too much (a process known as throttling).
You can prevent ISP throttling (and stop them from selling your browsing history to advertisers) by connecting to a Virtual Private Network (VPN). These encrypt your data and even allow you to appear as though you’re in another country, which is helpful for accessing your usual services during trips abroad.
Many VPNs work with Kodi, but we particularly recommend NordVPN for a number of reasons. It’s extremely fast, boasts top-notch security tools, and works with the vast majority of streaming services we’ve tested. Better still, it has apps for just about every device imaginable, including Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV.
Want to know more? Check out our full NordVPN review here.
BEST VPN FOR KODI & FIRESTICK:NordVPN is great for both Kodi & Fire Stick. A speedy, no-logs provider with real streaming potential and a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
How to fix Kodi buffering on Firestick: short version
You can easily fix Kodi buffering but may need to follow a few different troubleshooting steps to get to the root of the problem. Follow these steps to fix the most common causes, you can find more detail about each below.
Here’s how to fix common Kodi buffering issues:
- Check for network problems (internet connectivity issues)
- Ensure you have available bandwidth (run an internet speed test)
- Use a VPN if ISP throttling is causing issues
- Check to ensure your device can handle HD or 4K streaming quality
- Use lower-quality video streams
- Troubleshoot your Kodi installation (re-install Kodi if needed)
- Use a setup wizard to scan for errors
- Try using a different addon for streaming
- Scan for viruses or malware that may be using your bandwidth
Troubleshooting buffering issues: in detail
If you’re experiencing buffering, either your internet connection isn’t fast enough, your hardware (in this case, a Firestick) can’t keep up, or there’s a problem on your provider’s end. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really narrow things down for us all that much, so we’ll have to run several tests to eliminate specific causes.
We’ll begin with the most likely culprit: slow internet.
Checking your connection speed
The first thing to test is your network speed. This will provide you with your average upload and download speeds over the course of the test. The upload speed isn’t important for streaming, but a strong download speed is crucial. Generally, if your download speed is too low, you’ll notice buffering issues on streaming sites across all devices connected to your network.
So what constitutes a reasonable network speed? Netflix recommends at least a 1Mbps connection for streaming standard definition (SD) content and 5Mbps for high-definition (HD) content. If you’d like to watch a show in ultra-high definition (known as UHD or 4K), you’ll need around a 15Mbps connection.
If you’ve already run a speed test and found that your network is fast enough, skip to the next section.
If your network speeds are too low, there are a few things you should check. Firstly, what speeds does your current internet package advertise? Internet service providers (ISPs) often use clever wording to sell you lower speeds than they claim, but your actual speeds should be roughly in the same ballpark. If you are receiving far lower speeds than you pay for, make a note of this, and should our other suggestions fail, call your service provider, as there could be a problem on their end.
Evaluate bandwidth usage and network strength
Next, check to see if anyone else in your home is using the internet to watch videos, listen to music, or make video calls. These activities use a lot of bandwidth and can severely impact the quality of your Kodi streams. If someone is doing these things, ask them to stop and try using Kodi again to see if this is the issue.
You should also check how far away you are from your router and modem. WiFi signal strength decays the farther away from the source you are, and thick walls can drastically reduce the effectiveness of wireless internet signals. If you’re connected to a very weak network, you might want to consider purchasing a WiFi repeater or extender or connecting via Ethernet cable if your device permits it.
Assuming your network strength is fine, it’s time to use the old IT worker’s fallback. Try turning your router and modem off at the wall, leaving it for a minute, and turning it back on. Sometimes, technical problems occur, and for whatever reason, doing this can fix them. Once you’re able to connect to the internet again, try running another speed test and streaming on something other than your Kodi device to see if your speeds have improved.
Assuming the speeds haven’t improved and there’s no issue with your ISP, you have two options. You can either upgrade your broadband package to one that provides higher speeds, or you can try lowering the quality of the video you’d like to stream. You can quickly see if this works by going onto YouTube and trying to play a video at 360p resolution.
Optimizing Kodi for your device
If you’ve made it this far, your internet connection likely isn’t the issue. Next, we’ll spend a few minutes making sure Kodi is properly configured to run on your Firestick or Fire TV.
- We’re going to begin by installing the Open Wizard Kodi addon (Click Code, then Download ZIP).
- In Kodi, click Add-ons, then the box icon, then Install from zip file
- Navigate to your downloads folder and find the Open Wizard ZIP file.
- Once installed, open it up and click Maintenance > System Tweaks/Fixes
- Next, select Advanced Settings, then Cache & Network Presets
- Finally, choose Low-RAM Device Preset. Once Kodi restarts, check to see if this has solved your problem.
Make sure your chosen addon isn’t at fault
Are you noticing buffering with multiple addons or just one? Does it occur on websites like YouTube or only with Kodi? If the problem only happens with one specific addon or website, then it’s probably experiencing technical difficulties.
In cases like these, there really isn’t anything you can do but wait it out. The good news is that there are dozens of high-quality Kodi addons to use in the meantime, whether you’re looking for movies, TV shows, sports, or even cartoons.
Playback issues on Kodi: FAQs
Why do I get an error when I open a Kodi addon?
If you’re getting a generic error like “Check the log for more information” when you try to use an addon, it’s likely that the addon itself is broken or otherwise out of date. There isn’t any way around this, short of installing an older version of Kodi (which we’d advise against, given the security issues involved with sourcing prior versions).
It may also be that your chosen addon is only available in specific countries. For instance, you might notice an error when trying to access WNBC Programs outside of the US, but when back home, it’ll work as normal.
Why does Kodi say "No sources found" when I try to play something?
“No sources found” means just that: your addon was unable to find any sources for the title you selected. Usually, this is because the addon scraped links from piracy websites that have since been taken down.
To be clear, the best way to avoid this inconvenience is to use legitimate, official addons. They not only stick around longer, but their video quality is also usually better too.
Does Kodi buffer a lot on mobile devices?
Kodi is actually really quite lightweight, and it works nearly identically across all of its supported platforms. There may be some slight slowdown on low-powered devices like Amazon Firestick or Raspberry Pi, but in general, your videos should play fine, no matter whether you’re using a PC, an iPhone, or even a humble flash drive.