How to Improve Video Performance on My PC

By Shea Laverty

There are many reasons that can make streaming videos on your PC stutter, freeze or drop in quality. Sometimes the problem relates to available resources on your computer, like CPU cycles or RAM memory. More often, however, the problem lies with your Internet connection and available bandwidth. In most cases you can easily improve video performance by making a few changes to your computer settings, viewing habits and the way you connect to the Internet.

Close Unnecessary Apps

Whether you're using an online streaming site or a desktop media player, watching videos ties up your computer's resources. Closing active apps -- **especially resource-intensive apps like video or image editing suites and games** -- can greatly lessen the strain on your computer's resources and help your media player or Web browser run more smoothly.Apps that require an Internet connection like instant messaging or cloud storage syncing are a double-threat, as they eat up your computer's resource and your network's available bandwidth. Whenever possible, close these apps before starting to watch online video.

Finish or Cancel Active Downloads

Depending on your download speeds, file downloads can use up a lot of your network's available bandwidth. Streaming video may begin to stutter, frequently buffer or stop running entirely until the download finishes and the strain on the bandwidth is lifted. Before you start watching streaming video, let your downloads finish. If a download will take too long to finish, canceling it so you can run your video and then re-starting it later is another option.

Avoid Network Congestion

Streaming video may also run poorly if a lot of people are using your network at the same time -- especially if they're using bandwidth-intensive apps or services like streaming video, online gaming or downloading large files. To maximize the amount of bandwidth available for your video stream, avoid watching streaming video when other people in your household are actively using the Internet.

Switch to Lower Resolution Video

Changing the resolution settings for the streaming video can greatly reduce the strain on your bandwidth and speed up the stream. Go for as low a resolution setting as you can tolerate -- standard-definition or 480p typically streams the fastest without sacrificing too much picture quality.

Switch to Wired Ethernet

While wireless connections are convenient, they rarely provide optimal connection speeds. Typically this is because a Wi-Fi signal weakens as it travels through your home, impeded by walls, furniture and interference from electronic equipment. If possible, connect directly to the modem or router using an Ethernet cable.

Turn Off Hardware Acceleration

Hardware acceleration refers to your computer's graphics card interpreting and rending the visual data from a video stream instead of your computer's software. While in most cases hardware acceleration actually improves performance, sometimes it doesn't work correctly and instead limits performance.To shut off hardware acceleration on your computer, press **Windows-X** and select **Control Panel** on Windows 8 computers, or click **Start** and select **Control Panel** on Windows 7. Select **Appearance and Personalization**, followed by **Display** and **Change Display Settings**. Click **Advanced Settings**, select the **Troubleshoot** tab, and then click the **Change Settings** button. Drag the slider all the way to the left, and then click **OK** to disable hardware acceleration.Flash-based players may also be using hardware acceleration. To disable it in the player, right-click the video player, select **Settings**, and then uncheck the **Enable hardware acceleration** check box if it's filled.