How to Change the Buffer on VLC

The VLC media player includes file cache and stream buffer options to enable fine-grained control over video playback on machines with limited system resources. If you use VLC to stream network video, you can set the buffer size on a per-stream or permanent basis. For local file playback, you can raise or lower the file cache size to limit the amount of memory VLC uses or the frequency with which it accesses the disk. For systems with low memory, a low cache setting makes more resources available to the operating system.

Young woman watching a video
Experiment with the muxer cache size to find the right buffer setting.
credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Permanently Change the Streaming Buffer

Step

Click “Tools” and select “Preferences.” In the lower left of the Preferences dialog, select the “All” button under "Show Settings" to display the advanced settings.

Step

Select “Stream Output” from the sidebar menu. The setting that affects buffer size is labeled “Stream Output Muxer Caching.”

Step

Enter a new amount in milliseconds in the Muxer Caching field. Since this setting requires a value in milliseconds, the amount of memory it uses varies with the streaming video's quality. If you have ample RAM but a slow network connection, a high setting such as 2,000 ms to 3,000 ms is safe. You may need to experiment to find the right setting for your machine.

Change the Buffer for Individual Streams

Step

Press “Ctrl-N” to open a new network stream, then enter a URL in the address field. VLC supports HTTP, FTP, MMS, UDP and RTSP protocols, and you must enter the full URL in the address field.

Step

Select “Show More Options” to display advanced settings for the current network stream. The Caching option controls the streaming buffer size.

Step

Enter an amount in milliseconds in the Caching field, then click “Play.” Depending on the cache setting, the video may take a few seconds to start streaming.

Change the Buffer for Local Files

Step

Click “Tools” and select “Preferences.” In the lower left of the Preferences dialog, select the “All” button under "Show Settings" to display the advanced settings.

Step

Select “Input / Codecs” from the sidebar menu, then scroll to the Advanced section in the Input / Codecs panel.

Step

Enter a new amount in the File Caching field. The default setting is 300 ms, which results in VLC accessing your disk three times per second. If video playback stutters on your machine, increasing this setting can make it smoother. However, depending on your RAM and CPU resources, you may need to experiment to find the right setting.