If videos taking forever to buffer when you watch them on Kodi, there are two main root causes that you should investigate first. The biggest reason for video loading problems is Kodi’s default cache settings. If you optimize your cache settings and you’re still having issues, then Internet Service Provider (ISP) throttling may be to blame.
Recently, the FCC fined T-Mobile for illegally throttling customers that stream videos. Experts believe that smaller ISPs could also be targeting video streamers and slowing down their connections.
Want to learn how to stop Kodi buffering problems? If so, read on to discover the two best ways for improving video performance on Kodi and fixing Kodi issues that cause buffering.
Fix #1: Adjust your cache settings and clear your temp files
When you stream videos with Kodi, a few seconds of the video are saved either to your device’s hard drive or to its RAM. If something happens to your internet connection, your video cache allows Kodi to keep playing the video while your device tries to reconnect to the stream.
How does cache affect Kodi video performance?
The way that Kodi stores and manages cache files can have a big impact on streaming video quality and performance. If you have a small cache file and an unstable internet connection, you’ll definitely run into buffering issues when you try to watch streaming video.
On the other hand, an overly big cache file can also cause issues and result in Kodi not working properly. If your cache file grows too large for your device to handle, you’ll experience sudden crashes and other erratic problems.
By default, Kodi only stores 60MB of cache. If you have system resources to spare, you can drastically improve video performance by increasing your cache file size.
How to adjust your video cache settings on Kodi
The Ares Wizard–a free Kodi addon designed by Project Ares–contains an advanced settings menu that provides the best and easiest way to change Kodi’s default video cache settings. The wizard automatically detects how much memory your system has available and recommends settings that’ll allow you to maximize video performance when you stream.
Here’s how to install Ares Wizard and get to its advanced settings menu: (Or use this tutorial to Install Ares Wizard on Amazon Fire TV/Stick)
- Download the latest Ares Wizard zip file to your desktop.
- From Kodi’s main menu, navigate to system → settings → addons → install from zip file → desktop.
- Select the Ares Wizard zip file, then wait for the installation success popup to appear in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
- Open Ares Wizard from the main menu under programs, then click the tweaks button.
Now you should be at a screen that looks like this:
If you click next and then click generate settings, Ares Wizard will automatically generate the optimal cache settings for your device.
The most important setting here is the first one from the top: video cache size. I’m using Kodi on a Mac with a decent amount of free RAM, so Ares Wizard automatically ramped up my video cache from 60MB to 1987MB.
The second most important setting on this page is the one that’s located above the “apply these settings” button: buffer mode. Four different buffer modes are available.
- Mode 1. In mode 1, Kodi buffers all internet streams including FTP streams and other rare video sources.
- Mode 2. In mode 2, Kodi buffers absolutely everything– even local files.
- Mode 3. In mode 3, Kodi only buffers streams from websites.
- Mode 4. Mode 4 disables buffering altogether.
If you’re using a device that has lots of memory, it makes sense to ramp up your video buffer and use mode 2– aka “buffer everything” mode. A large buffer file allows you to preload a big section of the video stream, allowing for smoother playback and fewer interruptions.
If you’re experiencing sudden crashes when you use Kodi, you may be running out of disk space.
If you’re using Kodi with Amazon Fire TV, its 8 GB of hard drive space can fill up fast– especially if you have downloaded lots of addons. Also, low hard drive space can be a problem for those using Kodi on Raspberry Pi.
To clear your temp files, click Ares Wizard’s maintenance button. You should see a screen that looks like this:
Just click delete thumbnails and delete packages to finish the job.
Ares Wizard is not the only maintenance wizard around. You can also use some of the following wizard tools, all of which are found in the SuperRepo Repository, to perform the same functions:
- SIMTECH Wizard
- Mucky Duck’s Wizard
- Wolfpack Wizard
Like Ares Wizard, all of these Wizards contain quick tools to delete your cache and downloaded files that may the source of Kodi buffering issues.
Fix #2: Use a VPN to prevent your ISP from Throttling You
When you connect to a VPN, your identity not only becomes anonymized, the nature of the data you’re sending and receiving also becomes obscured. This means that a VPN will prevent your ISP from seeing what you’re doing, beyond how much data is being sent and received.
For those streaming video, this is incredibly important. Many ISPs are now automatically throttling those who spend a lot of time watching video online through different sites. Video data is clear to identify in unmasked data streams, so your ISP can see that you’re streaming a large amount of video and throttle your speeds as a result.
The problem with ISP bandwidth throttling is growing increasingly more common as well, although it is still currently illegal thanks to net neutrality rules.
Particularly in the US, “net neutrality”, or its loss, is a major concern. The concept of “net neutrality” hinges on the idea that all internet traffic must be treated the same way. This is what prevents ISPs from throttling data for video, for example. Many ISPs would rather discriminate against different types of data streams and throttle bandwidth than spending the money to invest in new and better infrastructure.
Instead of forking up the money to upgrade their infrastructure, some ISPs have resorted to cheap tactics to avoid network slowdowns. In October of 2016, the FCC forced T-Mobile to pay a 48 million dollar fine for throttling customers who bought the so-called “unlimited” plan.
The T-Mobile customers that that were most affected by illegal throttling were the ones that used the internet a lot–video streamers, torrenters, and gamers. Many Kodi users on T-Mobile likely found Kodi not working properly due to that throttling.
Unfortunately, T-Mobile is not the only–or the biggest–company on the block looking to throttle internet speeds. Verizon was recently caught with its pants down, so to speak, as it tried to throttle video streaming speeds. The company, however, claims that it was just a test. Nevertheless, it is clear that Verizon and other companies are gearing up for when net neutrality is not around.
The tides have changed a bit in the US, and the new leadership at the FCC appears to be attempting to roll back net neutrality rules. If that happens (and it increasingly looks like it will), VPNs will be all the more important to help Kodi users avoid getting their data
If you suspect that your ISP is penalizing you with slowdowns for using Kodi, you can prevent them from monitoring you by logging on to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) before you use the web.