How to Troubleshoot Netflix Streaming

By Nathaniel Williams

Founded in 1997, Netflix has quickly grown from a niche DVD-by-mail service to the most popular way to watch movies online. For years, Netflix offered its online streaming service at minimal extra cost, but in 2011 Netflix introduced a new pricing system that compelled many subscribers to choose between the mail service or streaming movies. Some observers feel the move was designed to funnel most customers to the low-margin online viewing services. While Netflix is easily the largest online viewing service in the world, some viewers experience technical difficulties.

Step 1

Examine your account. If you are experiencing trouble with the Instant View option in Netflix, ensure that your account currently allows for this option. You or another person sharing your account may have inadvertently changed your account to mail-only. Netflix allows immediate change to your account status, which is reflected on your next bill.

Step 2

Check your Internet connection. Netflix streaming requires at least 1.5 megabyte per second download speed. Your Internet service may not be able to meet this connection speed or your connection may be temporarily slow or disconnected. To troubleshoot your Internet service, contact your provider.

Step 3

Update your software. To stream Netflix movies your browser and operating system should be up to date. Popular browsers include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Each offers free updates. Similarly, whether you are using a Windows or Mac computer, you should be able to update your operating system without cost. Older computers may not be able to run the modern software required for Netflix streaming.

Step 4

Reboot your computer when in doubt. A remarkably high percentage of common software issues are resolved by a soft reboot of your computer. Simply select restart in Windows or Mac OS, or press the reboot button on the CPU.

Step 5

Determine if a title is available. Not all Netflix titles are available as an Instant View. While Netflix is adding more titles every day, a majority of its titles are still only available as discs. A title available for streaming will have a blue "Play" option below it. Those only available as a disc will have a red "Add" button.

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