The last thing you want is for your Fire TV Stick to start buffering while you enjoy your favorite movie or series. Imagine starting to watch the Mandalorian on Disney+ only for your TV to start buffering after every 5 minutes. That’s just unbearable. Luckily, there are several ways of fixing buffering issues and improving the streaming quality on the Fire Stick.
Now troubleshooting slow internet speeds on your Fire TV is a game of elimination. You will have to find the issue by testing and verifying a combination of possible causes. One or two of them might be actual cause of buffering on your Fire TV. So we shall go through a number of possibilities.
Keep in mind that if you are watching a 1080p Full HD movie or series, you need at least 5Mbps internet speeds and a 4K movie will require at least 25Mbps. So you have to know the internet plan that you are subscribed to from your Internet Service Provider(ISP) if it’s an unlimited internet package. If you are using Mobile internet from your Smartphone/Tablet or MiFi, then you’ll need to do a speed test from either fast.com or speedtest.net to find out how fast your Network Provider’s 4G LTE network is.
You can use the analiti app from the Amazon app store to perform a speed test directly from your Fire TV. Alternatively, you can visit speedtest.net directly from the Silk browser pre-installed on the Fire TV to perform a speed test. So here are some possible reasons why your Fire TV Stick is buffering.
Internet Service Provider(ISP) Throttling
Even though your ISP promises certain speeds according to your plan, they sometimes can throttle your connection when they detect too much streaming activity. You want to read the fine print (read: Terms & Conditions) of your subscription plan to rule that possibilities that your ISP throttles or slows down your internet speeds after detecting certain browsing activities.
We made a video on how to fix buffering on your Amazon Firestick. You can watch it below;
ISPs tend to slow you down if you torrent or stream a lot. This is usually mentioned in their so-called Fair Usage Policy (FUP) which aims to avail equal network resource sharing among subscribers. A quick way to verify this is to simply perform a quick internet speed test with any of the internet speed testing services if you suspect throttling from your ISP. Compare the results of your speed tests against your subscription plan. If there’s a mismatch, give them a call.
Check on your WiFi signal or router settings
Another suspect of slow internet connections on your Fire TV could be your WiFi router or MiFi. The location of your WiFi router in relation to your Fire TV Stick is very important. If the router is a bit distant or the two are separated by thick walls or floors, then the WiFi signals and ultimately your internet connection speeds are going to be affected. Make sure your WiFi router is at the very least in the same room as your Fire TV. You can check the WiFi signal strength from your Fire TV by going to Settings > Network. Select the WiFi network you’re connected to and check on signal strength.
Also, check on your router model and verify if it supports the 2.4Ghz band or both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. Most Fire TV devices support dual-band WiFi on both 2.4 and 5GHz bands through the WiFi 5(802.11ac) standard. The 2.4Ghz band is capable of penetrating through walls better than the 5Ghz counterpart, but is slow and is more susceptible to interference. So if you own a WiFi 5 router, then you can connect your Fire TV through the much faster, less busy 5Ghz band for a better streaming experience. You can get the TP-Link AC1750 (Archer A7) Dual-Band Gigabit Wireless Internet WiFi Router for just $54 on Amazon.
Change to a less congested Wireless channel
Another way to fix buffering is to change to a less congested wireless channel. Whether you use the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequency bands, select non-overlapping Wireless WiFi channels. You can think of the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency bands as two highways. The WiFi channels are like lanes on those highways. If you wanted to pick the fastest lanes on either highway, you naturally would want to choose the ones that are less crowded.
On the 5 GHz band, there are 24 non-overlapping channels while for the 2.4 GHz band, channels 1, 6, and 11 are the best choices because they don’t overlap with each other. You can set your WiFi router to use any of these channels in the settings.
You can use the WiFi Analyzer App on your Smartphone to check for Wireless channels in your area. This should guide you in choosing the one that’s less congested.
Use an Ethernet wired connection
While WiFi is much more convenient and flexible, it’s still prone to interference from thick walls and busy wireless neighborhoods. But connecting your Fire TV to a wired network guarantees absolutely stable fast connection to your router. Unfortunately, the Fire TV stick doesn’t have an Ethernet port. So you need an Ethernet adapter that essentially provides an Ethernet interface to your Fire TV. Luckily, they are quite inexpensive. You can get the $14 Amazon Ethernet Adapter for Amazon Fire TV Devices for this purpose. It works with Fire TV Stick Lite, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen), Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Stick 4K Max, Fire TV Cube, and Amazon Fire TV (3rd Gen).
Turn off or check your VPN Speeds
Another tip to fix buffering is to connect to a VPN or Virtual Private Network. A VPN can either enhance or hinder your streaming experience, so it’s important to use it with caution.
If you believe your internet provider is limiting access to certain streaming services, using a VPN can actually improve your streaming experience by hiding your browsing activity from your internet provider.
However, it’s important to note that using any VPN service, even a paid one, will reduce your internet connection. The extent of the slowdown will depend on the quality of the VPN service provider. The best VPN providers will only reduce your connection speeds by 10-20%, while poor-quality VPNs can result in a reduction of more than 50%.
- Top 10 Free and Paid VPNs for Fire TV
- Before you use a VPN on Netflix, here’s what you should know
- Using VPN on your Smart TV: Here are different ways of setting it up
So to know if your VPN is the culprit, test your internet speeds with the VPN turned on and then when it’s off, then compare the results. If your current VPN severely affects your internet speeds, consider subscribing to a fast one. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Internet Private Access, IPVanish and Proton VPN have great ratings online. Stay a way from Free VPNs as they can seriously slow down your internet speeds.
In my experience, I use ExpressVPN or Surfshark and have noticed a 15% reduction in my internet speed from what my ISP promised. This is still a reasonable decrease for the added privacy and security benefits of a VPN.
Manage storage, Clear cache and background apps
This is a very unlikely reason for buffering on your Fire TV. However, if your device is generally slow, then it’s time to check on your storage usage or any background apps that could be running. If your device storage is almost used up, then streaming Apps won’t have enough space to cache data which often improves on the streaming quality. So either clear cache of most apps or expand on your storage space with an external USB flash disk or portable hard drive.
You can also reclaim some RAM by closing on background apps. The Fire TV Stick comes with just 1GB of RAM for the base models. If you have opened several streaming apps and don’t close them, they’ll stay running in the background using up your device’s system memory. If you’ve a lot of them running in the background, then will slow down on the device and ultimately cause it to buffer.
If Still can’t connect to the internet
Alright if your Firestick still can’t connect to the internet at all, try any of these options;
- Verify your Internet is working – Just because your Firestick is connected to the WiFi doesn’t mean there’s an internet connection. So check if other devices are able to connect to the internet. If not, it’s possible your internet service provider is having an outage, so you may need to contact them for support.
- Restart your WiFi router – Even if other devices are able to connect, sometimes a simple restart of your router can solve the problem.
- Restart your Firestick – Clearing the device’s memory may help resolve the issue. Go to “Settings” > “My Fire TV” > “Restart” to restart your Firestick.
- Factory reset your Firestick – If all else fails, resetting your device to its factory defaults may solve the problem. Go to “Settings” > “My Fire TV” > “Reset to Factory Defaults” to do this. You can follow our Firestick setup video for guidance.
- Update your Fire TV to the latest version.
- Select a lower video resolution such as 720p, 480p if your streaming app supports this feature.
- Keep your Fire TV Stick from overheating
What else can you do to improve on your internet connectivity and streaming quality on fire TV?