Can I stop YouTube and iPlayer from buffering?

I live in the countryside with a slow internet connection – it is mostly below 1Mbit/sec. As a result, when I try to watch YouTube or BBC iPlayer, the videos stop and start as data trickles down my slow connection. Is there software that stops this problem or a method I can use to get ahead of the download speed? It does not look like my broadband speed is likely to increase.

There are numerous ways to deal with this kind of problem. With YouTube, one way to eliminate the buffering problem is simply to pause video playback for a while. This will allow the video stream to continue downloading ahead of the point where you paused.

How long to pause depends on the video length and the download performance but use the buffer progress bar (a grey line below the playback window) as a guide. Let the grey bar get a fair way ahead of the timeline marker (a white circle) and then resume playback.

This technique will not work with the web-based iPlayer because the BBC does not allow the buffer to build up in the same way as YouTube. So if your download speed is not up to snuff – the BBC recommends at least 2Mbits/sec for standard broadcasts, and 3.5Mbits/ sec for high definition (HD) – then you can expect regular playback jitters.

It is possible to download iPlayer shows for offline playback and store them in your personnel file folders, meaning no internet connection is required – that means no jitters. For this, install the iPlayer application on either a Windows or Linux PC, Apple Mac computer, iPhone or iPad (the Android version does not yet offer downloads).

Visit the iPlayer website and click the Download options link below a programme listing and then choose For iPlayer Desktop. In the latest version of iPlayer for iPhone or iPad, click the Download button.

You will then have up to 30 days to watch a show before it is automatically deleted. There are also options to download shows for Windows Media Player or ‘Portable Devices’ but we find it is better to use the desktop or smartphone/tablet version of iPlayer.

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