VLC Lags Over the Network

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One of the many tools available to VLC users is the ability to stream videos over your home network -- an easier alternative to transferring all your video files and taking up hard drive space on multiple computers. When a video file lags and skips while streaming between computers on your network, it can easily be fixed by making some simple changes to your network or your VLC settings.

Increasing Cache Limit

  • The easiest fix when facing this problem is to increase the number of seconds that VLC buffers; the default over Windows is set to 6 seconds, while individual files are set to 3 seconds. Either value can be too short, especially on a wireless network. Turning it up to 10 seconds will kill any buffer-related lag issues, and wireless networks could even stand to use up to 20 seconds, as Wi-Fi speeds tend to be slower than wired Ethernet speeds. To do this in VLC, go to the Tools menu, and select "Preferences." In the bottom left corner select "All." Click "Input/Codecs" to reveal "Access Modules;" click that, and select "SMB." Change the caching value in milliseconds, e.g. "600" is 6 seconds, and "10000" would be 10 seconds. Repeat this step under "File," also located beneath Access Modules. Click "Save" when you're done and restart VLC.

Reduce Bandwidth Use on the Network

  • Another reason you might be seeing lags over your network is if you have several computers running bandwidth-heavy activities at the same time. Playing games online, streaming video and downloading large files all use up bandwidth, and every connection has a limited amount to go around. Trying turning off other non-essential Internet tasks and see if that helps your video stop stuttering.

Change Output Module

  • Another method for reducing skips in a streaming video is to change the video output module, the mechanism that plays the actual video of the file. VLC chooses the output module for your video based on the video file itself, but choosing a different one may be less taxing to the system streaming the video. Choose the right module can take some time, as there are nearly a dozen of them, and requires a reset after each one. These settings are available in the Preferences menu, underneath "Video" and within "Output Module."

Update VLC

  • If nothing else is working, it may simply be that you need to update to the most recent version of VLC. Every time VLC is updated the performance is improved and any bugs that might cause malfunction. Newer versions may also require fewer system resources, which will help the program run faster overall. Check your version of VLC for your operating system.

References

  • Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images
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