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Netflix is one of the most useful and convenient services on Apple TV. For a mere $8 a month, you can enjoy thousands of TV shows and movies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work smoothly. Sometimes, instead of watching a show, you are tortured by continual pauses due to network congestion, poor bandwidth, or problems in the Amazon data center (where Netflix is hosted). The following information will help you trouble-shoot and fix many problems with Netflix streaming on Apple TV.
Slow Internet Connection Causes Netflix to Pause
If you are having problems with too many buffering pauses or getting “An Error Occurred Loading This Content”, it could be that your Internet connection is too slow. Even if you have a fast Internet connection, it may slow down during peak hours. Typically, on weekdays from 5pm until 10pm, most Internet connections slow down. People come home from work and begin using their computers or watching streaming video.
My ISP admits this is a problem that users will just have to accept. They are unwilling to scale up their data center to handle peak hours. Beyond your ISP, the Internet could also be congested. Maybe some hot new TV show dropped on iTunes, or some new viral video is getting millions of hits. The Internet is just a huge network of computers. Your data hop from server to server to get from Netflix to your Apple TV. Any increase in overall Internet activity can affect your bandwidth. Whatever the case, Internet bandwidth is not constant for anyone. This problem could be beyond your ISP.
Denial of Service Attacks May Block Netflix Access
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack can dramatically affect Netflix streaming performance. Basically, this is a coordinated attack on websites and Internet Service Providers. DDoS attacks have been increasing in number and I have experienced a few that have rendered services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and iTunes unusable, sometimes for days. The DDoS attack might not be affecting Netflix, but may be aimed at your ISP or ISP’s Domain Name System (DNS) provider.
The telltale sign of a DDoS attack is that some web sites work, while others don’t. It isn’t a case of just Netflix not working, for example. As the attack progresses, you will find that more websites and media services are affected.
My ISP has had quite a few DDoS attacks, but when I test the Internet speed, there is nothing wrong. The Internet connection is working, it’s just that DNS servers are being attacked and overwhelmed. DNS servers allow browsers and media players to look up hosts by their host name. When they are subjected to a DDoS attack, your browser or media player cannot look up streaming services, such as Netflix.
It’s not easy to find out for sure if a DDoS attack is the problem. ISPs don’t always want to admit it. After all, they could lose customers. If you find that some sites work and others don’t, it is usually a DDoS attack. You can search Google News to find out if there is a rash of attacks going on. If so, it is likely to be the problem. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it. You have to wait until your ISP handles the issue, which can sometimes take a few days. Most DDoS attacks are the result of malware on mobile devices. They are becoming more common, however, ISPs are getting better at handling these attacks.
Test Your Internet Connection’s Speed and Configure Netflix Appropriately
You can check the speed of your Internet connection with Speedtest.net. Speedtest also has iOS and Android apps. Whenever you have problems with Netflix streaming, run a test of your Internet connection speed.
Netflix requires a minimum of 0.5 Mbps for streaming video. However, they recommend 1.5 Mbps. This will deliver the most basic picture quality. For DVD quality video, you need 3 Mbps. For HD quality you need 5 Mbps.
By testing your connection speed, you can configure the appropriate content quality. Many people don’t know this is configurable. Netflix for Apple TV does not automatically adjust to bandwidth changes gracefully. To set the bandwidth of your Netflix connection, login to your Netflix account. Then click “Your Account” on the top right corner of the web page. Click the “Playback settings” link on the left side of the “Your Account” page, in the “My Profile” section. Adjust your video quality appropriately. If your Speedtest.net results are below 3 Mbps, choose “Low” quality. If you get between 3Mpb and 5Mbps, choose “Medium” quality. For those getting over 5Mbps, choose “High”. After making the selection, remember to click the “save” button and wait for the “Your Account” page to load.
After making the adjustment, exit your program (press the menu button on your Apple TV remote) and start it again. You don’t need to exit Netflix. You should get the option to restart or resume your program. (continue…)
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