Are you fed up with constant buffering and lag when trying to watch movies or shows on your Firestick or Fire TV? I feel your pain. Few things are more frustrating than waiting 5 minutes for a video to load, only for it to freeze after 10 seconds.
But here‘s the good news – you can fix Firestick and Fire TV buffering for smooth, uninterrupted streaming again. This step-by-step guide will walk you through over 15 proven methods to eliminate buffering issues.
I‘ll also explain exactly what causes Firestick and Fire TV boxes to buffer in the first place, so you can get to the root of the problem.
Let‘s get started!
What Causes Buffering on Firestick and Fire TV?
Before we jump into the solutions, it helps to understand what‘s behind Firestick and Fire TV buffering. Knowing the cause makes it easier to pinpoint the right fix.
Here are the most common reasons you may see lag and constant buffering:
Slow Internet Speeds
The #1 cause of buffering is slow internet bandwidth from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Streaming high quality 4K or 1080p video requires a lot of data transfer. If your bandwidth can‘t keep up, the player has to stop and buffer more of the video before continuing.
According to Netflix, you need at least 15 Mbps download speed for smooth 4K streaming. For 1080p, 5-10 Mbps is recommended.
But in reality, I suggest even faster speeds:
- 4K streaming: Minimum 25 Mbps
- 1080p streaming: Minimum 15 Mbps
Wireless internet is prone to interference and signal drops. This can interrupt the steady data flow needed for streaming.
Physical obstructions, competing devices, and distance from your router all affect WiFi performance. Given the choice, a wired ethernet connection is far more reliable.
Old or Underpowered Hardware
The Firestick and Fire TV run on relatively low power mobile hardware to remain affordable. But with heavy streaming usage, an older or cheaper model may start to struggle.
Upgrading to a newer generation device with a faster processor and more RAM can help streaming. For example, the 2022 Fire TV Stick 4K Max has 30% more power than the previous Firestick 4K.
Too Many Background Apps
The Firestick and Fire TV have limited RAM. Running lots of apps in the background eats up memory needed for smooth video playback.
Try closing unused apps to free up resources using Task Killer or directly in the "Apps" settings.
Failing to update your Firestick or Fire TV means you miss out on bug fixes and performance improvements in newer firmware versions.
Older Fire OS releases are more prone to random glitches and lag during streaming.
Problems on the host server side can also interrupt your video stream. This is especially common when using free streaming sources and addons versus paid services like Netflix.
Server outages and downtime are hard to predict or fix. Using a debrid service like Real-Debrid can help find more stable streams.
Some internet providers deliberately throttle your connection speeds when detecting streaming activity. This is because they want to push their own cable TV services.
A good VPN will encrypt your traffic to avoid ISP throttling. More details below!
Now let‘s go through each method to stop buffering on the Firestick and Fire TV…
15 Fixes to Stop Buffering on Firestick and Fire TV
I‘ve arranged these solutions in order from easiest and most effective to more advanced. Try working through them one-by-one until your buffering problems are solved:
1. Check Your Internet Speeds
First, test your internet speeds to confirm your ISP plan is fast enough for streaming.
The best speed test app for Firestick and Fire TV is [Analiti](https://analit Speed Test.com). Here‘s how to use it:
- Install Analiti Speed Test from the Amazon Appstore
- Run a Quick Speed Test
- Note your Download and Upload speeds
Based on the results, determine if your internet plan needs an upgrade. As mentioned above, you should aim for:
- 25+ Mbps download for 4K
- 15+ Mbps for 1080p
Upgrading to faster internet is the ultimate solution if speeds are under the thresholds above. Contact your ISP to explore your plan options.
2. Use a Wired Ethernet Connection
WiFi provides convenience but an Ethernet cable is far more stable for streaming.
The #1 Firestick and Fire TV accessory I recommend is an Ethernet Adapter. It plugs into your device‘s USB port and connects to your modem/router via Ethernet cable.
Benefits of going wired:
- Faster top speeds – up to 1000 Mbps versus ~150 Mbps for WiFi
- No signal interference or drops
- More consistent bandwidth for smoother streaming
This simple upgrade makes a huge difference if you want to stop buffering.
3. Connect a Fast, Reliable VPN
A VPN encrypts your streaming traffic through remote servers, hiding your IP address. This prevents ISP throttling which can slow speeds.
I recommend Surfshark VPN – it‘s blazing fast, affordable, and works great on Firestick/Fire TV:
- Speeds up to 10 Gbps with 800+ servers
- Unlimited devices and connections
- Live chat support 24/7
Follow my Surfshark installation guide and connect to a local server. Use the Wireguard or OpenVPN UDP protocols for best performance.
Their 30 day money back guarantee lets you test drive the improvement risk-free!
4. Enable Real-Debrid for Premium Streaming Links
Real-Debrid unlocks higher quality, dedicated streaming links so you‘re not competing for bandwidth with free users.
Apps like Kodi integrate with Real-Debrid seamlessly. Simply enable it in Kodi‘s settings to find better streams that buffer less.
- Far less buffering versus free sources
- Higher quality 1080p and 4K streams
- Unlimited fast downloads
Try Real-Debrid risk-free for smooth streaming on any Firestick/Fire TV app.
5. Tweak Your VPN Connection Settings
If you use a VPN, adjusting settings like the connection protocol and server location can improve speeds.
Try different protocols like WireGuard or OpenVPN UDP for better performance. Connect to VPN servers closest to your location.
Learn more VPN speed tips in my complete VPN protocol guide.
6. Switch to an External Video Player
The built-in video players in many Firestick/Fire TV apps are basic and prone to buffering.
Using a powerful third party player app can boost performance. My top pick is MX Player – it‘s fast, smooth, and feature-rich.
Follow my MX Player installation guide to set it as your default player in any app.
7. Restart Your Firestick or Fire TV
A simple restart closes all running processes and clears any memory issues causing lag or buffering.
To quickly restart, hold down the Select button on your remote for 10 seconds.
This forces a reboot and fresh start, potentially fixing random glitches.
8. Reset Your Device to Factory Settings
If a basic restart doesn‘t help, the nuclear option is a full factory reset. This erases any problematic software causing trouble.
Note: A reset removes all your apps and settings, so backup anything important first.
On the Home screen, go to Settings > My Fire TV > Reset to Factory Defaults. Follow the prompts to confirm and reset.
Once finished, reinstall apps and setup your device again. This feels like getting a brand new Firestick/Fire TV!
9. Force Stop Unused Background Apps
Too many apps running in the background eats up RAM needed for smooth video playback. Stopping these unused processes frees up memory.
The Task Killer app quickly force stops all non-essential apps. Or manually close them under Settings > Applications > Manage Installed Applications.
With apps closed, your Firestick/Fire TV has more resources for streaming without constant buffering.
10. Put Your Device to Sleep When Not in Use
Putting your Firestick or Fire TV into sleep mode shuts down background processes for snappier performance when awake.
To put to sleep, hold the Home button for 3 seconds and select Sleep. This closes all apps and conserves memory.
Learn how in my Firestick sleep guide.
11. Install the Latest Fire OS Update
Updating to the newest Fire OS version fixes bugs in older firmware leading to buffering.
Amazon rolls out updates every few months with performance improvements. Stay on top of them for the best experience.
Check for updates under Settings > My Fire TV > About > Check for Updates. Read my update guide for step-by-step instructions.
12. Reboot Your Network Router
Router glitches can negatively impact wireless streaming to your device.
Rebooting your router and modem clears any bad configurations or connections causing buffering.
Unplug them from power, wait 60 seconds, then plug back in. Repeat as needed until streaming stabilizes.
13. Clear App Cache and Data
Cached data and cookies in apps can slow things down over time. Wiping this data gives the app a fresh start.
Under Settings > Applications > Manage Installed Applications, clear cache + data for any problematic apps.
14. Add External Storage
The Firestick and Fire TV have limited internal storage. A full drive can bog things down leading to choppy video.
Adding external storage via a USB drive or microSD card (Fire tablets only) expands the capacity so your device can breathe.
15. Upgrade Your Hardware
If your Firestick/Fire TV model is over 2 years old, upgrading to a newer, faster generation device can really help.
For example, the 2021 Firestick 4K Max is 30% more powerful than the previous Firestick 4K.
The NVIDIA Shield TV is another top-tier streaming box option if budget allows.
Check out my streaming device reviews to consider an upgrade.
Firestick & Fire TV Buffering Troubleshooting FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about buffering on Firestick and Fire TV:
What causes buffering on Firestick and Fire TV?
The most common causes are slow internet speeds, WiFi interference, outdated hardware/software, too many background apps, server issues, and ISP throttling.
How can I stop buffering on my Firestick or Fire TV?
Fixes include using Ethernet, a faster VPN, upgrading hardware, resetting your device, closing background apps, and following the 15 tips in this guide.
What is ISP throttling and how does a VPN help?
ISP throttling is when your internet provider deliberately slows down speeds for streaming media and video sites. A VPN encrypts your traffic to avoid throttling.
Does video quality impact buffering?
Yes, higher resolution video like 4K and 1080p requires much more bandwidth versus 720p or 480p. Lower quality streams will buffer less on slow connections.
What‘s the difference between clearing cache vs. data on Firestick?
Clearing cache removes temporary app files. Clearing data erases all app information including settings, logins, and documents.
How much internet speed do I need for 4K streaming?
For smooth 4K streaming with minimal buffering, aim for internet download speeds of at least 25 Mbps. 10-15 Mbps should work for 1080p HD streaming.
I hope this detailed troubleshooting guide helps you squash annoying Firestick and Fire TV buffering issues for good!
The steps above cover a wide range of solutions from easy software tweaks to upgrading hardware. Let me know if you have any other questions – I‘m always happy to help out fellow cord cutters! Here‘s to smooth streaming.