How to stop Kodi Buffering (3 fixes that actually work)

Published by on May 1, 2018 in Kodi

When Kodi keeps buffering it is one of the most annoying things that you can encounter when trying to enjoy your favorite shows. Unfortunately, those using streaming addons are not spared from this pain. Luckily, there are things that you can do to minimize or stop Kodi buffering while watching streaming videos on Kodi.

Why is my Kodi buffering?

There are a few reasons why you might experience find your Kodi lagging.The main ones are:

  • Slow connection speed
  • Network connectivity problems
  • Limited bandwidth from the streaming source
  • Network congestion at the source
  • Unsuitable Kodi cache settings
  • Internet service provider (ISP) throttling connection speeds

Buffering is not limited to any specific addon or stream either. While you’re more likely to experience buffering while using third-party addons like Neptune Rising, Incursion, and others, even fully-legal addons such a the BBC iPlayer will buffer under certain conditions.

Related: Our favorite Kodi movie add-ons.

Slow connection speed

Streaming content requires a sturdy internet connection. Netflix makes the following recommendations for streaming their content:

  • Minimum required speed – 0.5 Megabits per second
  • Recommended broadband connection speed – 1.5 Megabits per second
  • Speed recommended for SD quality content – 3.0 Megabits per second
  • Speed recommended for HD quality content – 5.0 Megabits per second
  • Speed recommended for Ultra HD quality content – 25 Megabits per second

This can be used as a general guideline for streaming content from other sources as well. Please note that if large numbers of people are accessing a single streaming source at the same time, this will create a bottleneck. This will result in increased buffering regardless of what you do.

With that being said, it’s probably a good idea to have at least a 5.0Mb/s connection to stream content through Kodi. Going a little higher wouldn’t hurt either, as this would give you a little leeway in case of any fluctuations in connection speed.

If you have a connection speed lower than this, then it is fair to expect some interruptions when streaming HD content.

Network connectivity problems

If your connection speed matches or exceeds 5.0Mbps second and you are still experiencing issues, then your first step should be running an internet speed test to see what your numbers look like. If the speed reported by the linked testing service above reports a value lower than what is expected, then consider these solutions:

  • You may need to move your device closer to your wireless router if you are using a wireless internet connection. The further away you are, the more likely you are to lose signal integrity.
  • You might also want to consider using a wired connection instead. A wired connection will eliminate any issues with low signal integrity due to being too far away from your router. The connection will also be faster. However, your setup will be tethered to one location with this option.
  • Verify that you don’t have any other devices connected to your network that are eating up your bandwidth. If this is the case, disconnect these so that Kodi isn’t hindered.

Assuming that your buffering issues aren’t simply because of shoddy service from your internet provider, the information below might help.

Fix 1: How to change Kodi video cache settings

Instead of downloading an entire video file, when streaming, a portion of the video you want to watch is stored in an intermediate storage location called a cache. If your internet connection were to drop out for some reason, a streaming video will only freeze after the portion of video stored in the cache is played from beginning to end. If you’ve ever paused a video to let it buffer, only to realize that only a few seconds of video will load at a time, then your cache might be too small.

In order to play a video from beginning to end without buffering, the portion of video stored in the cache must always stay ahead of the portion of video played back already. By increasing the size of the cache, the maximum size of which is determined by your device’s RAM, you can buffer more video ahead of time.

Luckily, with Kodi, you can optimize your cache settings in an effort to rectify any buffering issues.

However, it should be noted that:

  • Too large of a buffer file may put a strain on your device resources.
  • Too small of a buffer file may make it difficult to load enough video for smooth playback, especially with slower or unstable internet connections.

We will explore how you can optimize your cache settings with an add-on called Ares Wizard.

Optimize cache settings with Ares Wizard or Supreme Builds Wizard

Ares Wizard installation

Before getting started, Ares Wizard needs to be installed. Check out our longer guide and walkthrough on Ares Wizard, or follow these installation instructions:

  • Add “http://ares-repo.eu/” to sources in File Manager. Name the source whatever you want.
  • Navigate to Add-ons>Add-on browser>Install from zip file and open the folder named after the source.
  • Open repository.aresproject.
  • Select repository.aresproject.zip and wait for the “Add-on installed” notification before continuing.
  • Now, in Add-ons>Install from repository, select Ares Project, followed by Program add-ons.
  • Select Ares Wizard and then Install. Wait for the “Add-on installed” notification before continuing.
  • In Add-ons>Program add-ons, open Ares Wizard to get started.
How to Optimize Settings

kodi_stop_buffering_ares_wizard_cache_advice_arrows

In order to tweak your cache settings with Ares Wizard, within the program select Tweaks, followed by Advanced Settings Wizard and follow the prompts and advice provided. The Ares Wizard informs users of the following points:

  • Ideal cache settings depend on the device Kodi is running on.
  • Most of the time, the ideal cache location is your device’s RAM.
  • Kodi uses 60MB of RAM by default.
  • If your device has a lot more RAM available than this, the size can be increased. Increase the setpoint too high, however, and you run the risk of making Kodi crash.

Clicking Next in Advanced Settings Wizard will guide you through the generation of custom settings for your device.

kodi_stop_buffering_ares_wizard_cache_generate_custom_settings

In my case, the recommended cache size is 500MB. This will of course vary depending on the amount of available RAM your device has. Hit Generate Settings in order to review the recommended settings.

kodi_stop_buffering_ares_wizard_cache_custom_settings

Select Apply these settings and restart Kodi in order to implement the changes.

Supreme Builds Wizard

Fixing your video cache XML file follows mostly the same process when using the Supreme Builds Wizard. The Supreme Builds Wizard requires different installation instructions, however.

To install the Wizard, follow these instructions:

  • Go to your File Manager. Add the following as a source: http://repo.supremebuilds.com/Name it “Supreme Builds”.
  • Return to your Kodi home screen go to Addons
  • From there, click on the box/package symbol on the top left of the screen
  • Go to Install from zip
  • Locate your Supreme Builds HTTP connection and click on it
  • Click on the repository.supremebuilds zip file
  • Return to the screen where you found Install from zip and click on Install from repository
  • Locate and click on Supreme Builds Repository
  • Click on Program Addons
  • Click on Supreme Builds Wizard, then click on Install

With Supreme Builds installed, do the following:

  • Open Supreme Builds Wizard
  • Ignore the popups by hitting Esc on your computer or canceling out of them
  • Click on Supreme Builds Maintenance
  • From there, click on System Tweaks/Fixes
  • Next, click on Advanced Settings
  • Then, click on Quick Configure AdvancedSettings.xml
  • Accept all of the recommendations and click on Write File
  • If you already have an AdvancedSettings.xml file, it will ask if you want to overwrite it. Otherwise, the file will be automatically created for you

Fix 2: Adjust your HQ scaler

This is a fix, not so much for buffering, but for something that can appear to be buffering: video stuttering and frame dropping.

In Kodi, you may experience video stuttering and frame dropping due to the way Kodi automatically scales up lower quality video streams into higher-quality video. This is done through a process known as video scaling.

To change your HQ scaling, do the following:

  • In the main Kodi menu, click on the Settinggear symbol (top left)
  • Click on Player Settings
  • At the bottom gear symbol, make sure your your settings option is set to Expert

video acceleration

  • On the right, under Processing, find “Enable HQ scalers for scaling above”. By default, this is set to 20%. However, you can lower this down to reduce the amount of scaling that occurs. We recommend reducing to 10% first and checking for how that impacts stuttering and frame dropping. If you notice no fix, reduce it lower to 0%

It’s important to remember that video upscaling improves video quality for lower quality streams. If you want your 720p or lower video streams to appear in higher quality, you’ll need to have the HQ scaler set to a certain percentage, with 20% being the optimal setting.

You may also want to try to turn off Hardware Acceleration, which you’ll find just below the HQ scalers option in the settings screen. The Direct X accelerator will push the some of the video decoding process from the CPU to the GPU. Toggling this on and off may make a positive impact on your stuttering or frame rate drops.

Note also that adjusting this downward is only important for those with lower-powered systems. Those with higher powered systems may not need to worry about this adjustment, as you may not notice any stuttering or frame rate drops at all.

Fix 3: Use a VPN to prevent ISP throttling

VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and reroute it through a server in a location of your choice. Streaming sources from Kodi add-ons may not be sanctioned by your internet service provider. If this is the case, your ISP might try to throttle your connection when you stream through an application such as Kodi. They may even go as far as disabling your connection or may send a threatening legal letter!

In order to prevent this, most Kodi users will use a suitable VPN service. Tunneling traffic through a VPN will only allow your ISP to see that some amount of data is being downloaded from a server, but not the contents of that data or source of that traffic. Note that VPNs also allow you to access geo-restricted content and protect your online privacy.

Unfortunately, many VPNs don’t meet all of the requirements Kodi users will be looking for so choose carefully. Streaming requires a large amount of bandwidth in most cases, so a reliable, fast and secure VPN provider is essential. Free VPNs have data caps or insufficient speeds as do a number of paid services. Some VPNs keep logs of user activity and should be avoided, others don’t allow torrenting. We recommend IPVanish, which provides the necessary sturdy connection, plentiful capacity, and a high level of privacy protection. It keeps no logs, is one of the fastest VPNs we have tested and works with all Kodi add-ons. It is also a relatively easy VPN to install on streaming devices like the Fire Stick and is very popular with the Kodi community.

DEAL ALERT: You can save 60% on an IPVanish annual plan here, there is a 7 day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk free and cancel if you don’t want to keep it or if it doesn’t fix your buffering nightmare. We’ve rounded up a wider selection of recommended Kodi VPNs here if you want to try a different option.

IPVanish for Kodi users

Related: Using a Fire Stick with Kodi? What’s the best VPN for Fire Stick and Fire TV users?

Additional Option: Kodi lagging issues may require new equipment

If you’re seeing significant buffering and generally slow speeds when using Kodi, you might be dealing with hardware issues. If you’re running Kodi on some devices with a build or a load of addons, all of those could be slowing down your experience running Kodi and even causing your Kodi streams to load up and play slower.

One solution is to invest in new and/or better equipment that you use solely for Kodi streaming. Additionally, you may want to consider Kodi forks, such as OSMC or LibreELEC, which often work better on certain devices.

For example, a Raspberry Pi 3 running OSMC is often said to offer the best streaming experience for Kodi, with less lagging and buffering issues. Others point to the Nvidia Shield as the best Kodi streaming device, as it runs solidly on the Android operating system and has a massive amount of processing power as its built to handle hardcore online gaming and graphics rendering.

Related: Kodi not working on your Firestick? Try these easy fixes

In the U.S.? Expect more Kodi buffering issues in the future

If you’re in the United States, your Kodi buffering woes may only get worse in the future. The current FCC repealed 2015 Net Neutrality rules, making it possible for ISPs to discriminate against different sites based on the type of content passing through their network. Given streaming data is more bandwidth intensive, ISPs are eager to either limit these services or charge those sites for more access to their bandwidth.

Additionally, the FCC is considering lowering the definition of broadband in the U.S. to 10 Mbps, down from 25 Mbps. What does this mean for you? That your ISP may see little incentive to improve its network and provide more bandwidth.

The only effective way to keep your ISP from throttling data is to utilize a VPN.

Comparitech does not condone or encourage any violation of copyright restrictions, including illegal streaming through Kodi. Kodi can be used for many excellent, legal online streaming purposes. Please consider the law, victims, and risks of piracy before downloading or streaming copyrighted material without permission.

Kodi v17.5 “Krypton” is the latest stable version of Kodi available for download

What is it the Maverick Kodi addon? Is Maverick TV legal? Is it safe?

67 thoughts on “How to stop Kodi Buffering (3 fixes that actually work)

  • This article states that VPN avoids issues with ISP throttling but I am using VPN and when ever I do connect to it (NordVPN) I have major buffering/loading issues. I am not sure how to resolve this.

    I have used AresWizard and tweaked the cache settings. I have cleared cache and restarted. Please help. I want to use VPN

    • You might try a different NordVPN server. I find NordVPN’s automatic server selection isn’t very good at times and can pick slow ones. Look through the list instead of using a map to find an uncongested server near you.

  • I use Kodi on a firestick. Amazon video’s, hulu, netflex and others play well. Kodi buffers, would this be the type of streaming video somehow or is there something I can fix with kodi?

  • Have plenty of bandwidth and memory. I’m also using a VPN and Real-Debrid and I followed every step above but was still having problems with buffering. I’m using Chrome as my default browser which doesn’t have Adobe Flash already installed like Microsoft Edge so I thought it couldn’t hurt……..after installing Flash I have no problems whatsoever. Kodi works like a dream and i can even see where the movie has loaded further ahead than what is currently playing.

  • I did the recommended Ares tweak but my box won’t download past a certain point. What I mean is in the progress bar, it shows how ahead the stream is before it starts buffering. It starts out pretty far ahead and doesn’t move and the video catches up. Every time

  • I watch shows in 30 second intervals. It buffers , I pause for a minute the play and it plays for 29-30 seconds. My stick is about six months old. I have updated , increased my internet , and it still buffers. Netflix Hulu off the stick never buffer. It’s kodi. What to do, get Roku.??

  • William I have local time warner cable/Internet in North Carolina. I also have modem and a older asus 3 antenna router with a Sony Viao all in one computer system. I have about 5 tv’s and they all have sometype of kodi box connected. I also have the Apple iPads etc., I get the buffering all the time even in the same room as router. I was wondering if I used the eero router mesh system would that help or make a difference. And if so would you recommend connecting the router to the modem and the eero to the router or the eero to the modem and the router to the eero. Will this even help with the buffering. The problem a lot of people have is which build is the best kodi build with less problems.

    • Hi Marc,

      You mention that you have an older router. If it’s using an older WI-Fi standard then yes the Eero router mesh system should make a difference.

  • We have been using Exodus with Kodi and all of a sudden, the options of streaming providers has dropped to nearly nothing. Is there something we an do to correct this? (I apologize for not using the correct verbiage, or using the incorrect terms in the above question. I have gleaned the limited knowledge that I have from YouTube videos and Google.) I was also wondering if I can download a program to an external drive and then watch it from the drive without any buffering. There were certain providers that we could search for, knowing that they were very reliable and would very seldom buffer, but the providers names that we see have changed and are very, very limited now. We have also noticed that there are certain programs (TV shows) that will not stream at all.

    • Hi Cynthia,

      Many of these providers provide content through unlicensed sources. They are increasingly being targeted and removed. You can download programs to an external drive and watch them from there with Kodi. It’s a fully fledged media player and this won’t be a problem.

  • We’re very rural and have 0.7 mbps so that’s probably our issue. Constant buffering and a source too slow error on absolutely everything within kodi 17.4! Would a vpn help this or a different provider? Not much to choose from out here.

    • Hi Sheri,

      Based on your description, I think searching for a provide which offers faster download speeds might be the answer to your problem.

  • Trying to add file source. Keep getting “Unable to connect”. I am strictly on ISP no VPN. Any ideas on this issue

    • Hi Chris,

      That probably means the source is either offline, or it’s been entered incorrectly. Kodi sources need exact spelling, even down to capitalization

  • For some reason, I can not get Ares to work. The error is “couldn’t retrieve directory information. This could be due to the network not being connected. Would you like to add it anyway?”. I am connected. I have even started from the beginning erasing everything and starting over. Any suggestions. Thanks

  • Trying to add Ares. I get to the install from zip file and I’m able to choose the Ares repository, but then i get an error in the bottom right that just says add on unable to install. Ideas?

    • Hi Danielle,

      You’re probably better off not using Pulse build or any build. They tend to slow things down a lot by eating up Firestick resources.

  • Finally a simple precise answer to an issue. I was pulling out my hair! You rock man! I just went a little above the recommended settings in the Ares Wizard and all my buffering issues vanished.

    Thanks!

  • 2 fixes that actually don’t work.

    FTFY.

    Better find a video player that doesn’t force you to rely on plugins to do a basic job of… playing videos. I have 1000mbit internet and I still get buffering every 10-20 seconds. No such problem with other players.

  • One episode is streamed fast and nice and the next one just gets very slow and it crashes sometimes.
    What is the main problem with that?

    Thanks in advance!

    • This sounds like the server you are streaming that second episode is the source of your problems. It is possible that there is a lot of traffic accessing the episode, slowing down access speeds.

  • Is there any explanation as to why I do not buffer when using Kodi through Windows, yet buffers when using an Android box and Android phone?
    I use a paid sub.

    • This might have something to do with your Windows computer having more RAM. RAM is the preferred location of buffered content. A windows computer will typically have more RAM than Android devices.

  • I keep having issues on exudos where i search for movies, it says it is working then goes away and nothing happens, when i do get a list off movies majority that i ick on will so say working then nothing happens. Iam running kodi on a Nexbox.

  • I have the tx95….it has 2 g of Ram ….i do the the Ares wizard and it only gives me max of 80 mb’s….can way to increase this to avoid buffering….i have 65 mbps download speed not sure why it buffers in Kodi….thanks in advance

    • i have a amazon tv box using spmc with an iptv supply, in the daytime it does not buffer but at night it buffers a lot, i check my internet speed and it never goes below 8 megs, i am also hard wired into the router, any advice

  • I have 200 mb/sec nternet package and A IPVanish account and Im still having buffering issues any Ideas would be great. Thank you and fantastic job.

  • When adding source, it keeps saying that I don’t have a network connection but my Android Box is connected to the internet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.