How to Fix Choppy Streaming Flash Videos

By Ray Dallas

Flash videos include any video presented in the FLV, F4V or SWF format and have a strong presence on the Internet due to their relatively small file size and high quality. Because Flash videos are formatted specifically for the Internet, they typically stream pretty well, so if you experience choppy or stop-and-go streaming, you may need to make a few adjustments to your computer or install more up-to-date Flash software.

Step 1

Install the most up-to-date Flash plug-in. A plug-in is simply an application that allows the computer to recognize certain file types. Adobe Flash Player, according to the Adobe Web site, has become the most widely installed Flash player since 2002, so it is safe to assume that downloading the most recent version of Adobe would be a good bet. An outdated version could account for the choppy playback.

Step 2

Pause the video before you attempt to watch it. Most video players allow you to build a buffer before playing the video. It could be that the video simply isn't streaming data at a fast enough rate to keep up with the player. If you press "Play" and then "Pause," some video players will let most of the video load during the paused phase. You can monitor the buffer by looking at the progress bar, generally a paler version for the player bar that shows where you are in the duration of the video. The speed of this bar will indicate the speed that the video is loading, relative to playback speed.

Step 3

Check your Internet connection speed. You can do this by double-clicking the "Network Connections" icon under the Control Panel on Windows operating systems. A menu will pop up showing the connection speed in megabits per second (Mbps) or kilobits per second (Kbps) if the speed is slower. Most Flash videos only need 28.8 Kbps to stream smoothly, according to Real Player.

Step 4

Disable and the re-enable your Internet connection to see if the speed improves. This process differs by operating system, so simply use the method you normally use to log onto and off of the Internet. If this does not work, there might be another problem with your connection.

Step 5

Cancel all other data transfers happening on the network. If you are streaming multiple videos at once or if you are downloading large files, this might be overusing the bandwidth. Also, if you share a connection with other users, they might be using up the bandwidth with their videos or downloads. If you are still below the minimum threshold after shutting down all other data transfers, it might be time to call your Internet service provider and upgrade your bandwidth.

Step 6

Shut down unnecessary programs running the player on your computer. There is a chance that the problem is not on the connection end but on the data processing end. This is especially true if you are using a downloaded player, such as RealPlayer, to stream the video. Each program uses RAM, the most easily accessible memory for a central processing unit (CPU). If other programs are using all or most of the RAM, the CPU will access the hard disk directly, which can slow down applications, including the video player. You can find which programs are running by accessing the Task Manager or Finder. From there, shut down the programs that are not necessary to maintain the proper function of the computer.

Step 7

Clear space on your hard drive. This is another processing issue. If the hard drive is close to full, it will slow down all applications, including video players.