Kodi is like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and even more combined under one roof. That much streaming firepower promises a virtually endless amount of content, all without putting in a disk or leaving your seat.
While all that might sound like a dream, it’s a dream that easily turns to frustration when you encounter buffering issues. The endlessly spinning icon can put a Game of Thrones binge session on hold indefinitely as you wait for what seems like an eternity for your content to load.
We’re here to help alleviate those Kodi buffering woes with some quick tips to get your video lag down or even eliminate completely. If you’d like to know everything there is to know about Kodi besides, we also have a full Kodi guide for your reading pleasure.
Test Your Internet Speed
The first place to start is with your Internet speed. Many Kodi setups use WiFi and run from devices like ChromeCast or Amazon FireStick that don’t even have Ethernet ports. Without a direct connection to your modem as an option, you’re going to have to work with what you’ve got.
To begin troubleshooting your device, head to speedtest.net to check your connection quality. This is a third-party website, so you don’t have to worry about ISPs skewing the numbers.
When running the test, try to eliminate as many background processes as possible that are connected to your network. In my case, I turned off WiFi on my phone and paused my backup software to get an accurate look at my speeds. If there’s a large discrepancy between speeds without those processes turned on, you may want to just keep them off when streaming.
As a general rule, full HD 1080p content needs at least a 10Mbps download speed to stream smoothly. If you’re sitting under that, then your Internet may be the cause of concern.
If you find your speedtest.net results are lower than what you’d expected, perform a hard reset on your router. This is where you unplug the power for at least 60 seconds and then plug it back in. If you’re still experiencing issues, contact your ISP to see if there are any issues in your area. If your problems persist, continue on to the next step.
Improve Your Internet Speed
If your connection speed is slow near your streaming box but fast near your router, you’re going to need to move some things around. Move your box closer to the access point and see if speeds improve. If you happen to have a dual band router and have multiple devices connected, switching to the 5GHz band instead can free up some bandwidth.
Moving isn’t a permanent solution, so you may want to consider upgrading to a router with better range if you’re using an older unit. For Kodi, your best bet is to purchase a VPN router. We’ve compiled a list of the best VPN routers to help narrow the search, many of which offer excellent range and are dual band.
The best solution would be a hardwired connection. If you’re using a streaming box with an Ethernet port but are using WiFi, you may want to reconsider. Long network cables are pretty cheap, so pick one up and run it if you haven’t already.
If you’re confident the Internet is not the source of the problem, then continue on to a more hands-on approach below.
Raise Kodi’s Video Cache
You may need to raise the amount of video cache available to Kodi. Cache is temporary storage that helps load websites (or in this case videos) faster. Cache stores information about places you’ve visited or videos you’ve viewed so that those things load faster when you go back to them.
It takes memory, though. With devices like ChromeCast, there doesn’t tend to be much memory allocated for caching by default, so you may be running short. To increase the video cache memory limit for Kodi, there are two methods. One is easier than the other, but we’ll walk you through both.
The Easy Way: Ares Wizard
The more user-friendly of the two options requires that you install an unofficial Kodi add-on called the Ares Project. If you use unofficial add-ons, there’s a lot of good stuff in this repository so you should probably install it anyway.
Here’s how to get it:
From the Kodi home screen, click on the settings icon. It looks like a cog.
From the icons, select “file manager.” It’s the last option of the bottom row.
Click on “add source” from the left column. It’s the bottom option.
Double-click on “<none>.”
In the address bar that appears, enter this URL exactly how it appears here:
Click “OK” and give the source a name like “AresWizard”.
Get back to the home screen and click on “add-ons”. On the next screen, select “download” from the bottom of the sidebar.
From there, click on “install from zip file.
Navigate to the folder you named before (in our case “Ares Wizard”) and select the only zip file inside (repository.aresproject.zip). Wait for an add-on installed notification.
After the notification, select “install from repository” now. Inside, click on “Ares Project.”
Then follow the path Program add-ons > Ares Wizard and click on “install.”
Wait for the add-on installed notification, and you’re good to go. Now we need to increase the video cache. Go back to the main menu and follow the path Add-ons > Program add-ons > Ares Wizard. Give it a few seconds to install files for the first-time setup.
Now inside Ares Wizard, follow the path Tweaks > Advanced Settings Wizard > Next. Inside there, you’ll see the available RAM on whatever device you’re using. Note it because we’ll need it later.
Click on “generate settings.” Inside, increase the video cache size to half of your available RAM. Don’t mess with anything else in there.
Click on “apply settings” and restart Kodi.
Congratulations, you’ve now increased the video cache limit.
The Hard Way: XML file
Proceed at your own risk. You’re going to have to mess with some code here and, while it’s fairly basic, you shouldn’t do it if you aren’t comfortable. We’re essentially doing the same thing we did with Ares Wizard, so there’s no reason to try and do both.
Copy these lines into a notepad file:
<buffermode> 1 </buffermode>
<readbufferfactor> 1.5 </readbufferfactor>
<cachemembuffersize> 104857600 </cachemembuffersize>
After you’ve done that, save the file as “advancedsettings.xml.” Obviously, don’t save it with quotation marks. We need to get this file to the Kodi “userdata” file location, which will vary depending on OS:
- Android: Android/data/org.xbmc.kodi/files/.kodi/userdata/
- iOS /private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/Kodi/userdata/
- Linux: ~/.kodi/userdata/
- Mac: /Users/<your_user_name>/Library/Application Support/Kodi/userdata/
- Windows: Search “%APPDATA%\kodi\userdata” and hit enter
After you move the file to its spot, your video cache memory should be increased.
Use Smaller Files
After all of that, you may still be experiencing issues if the files that you’re attempting to stream are too large. This can be fixed with a faster Internet connection, but that’s not an immediate solution.
What is an immediate solution is HEVC Video Club. This add-on can be found in a number of repositories and uses the H.256 codec to stream HD videos. Most videos use H.264, a codec that allows HD streaming with relatively small files sizes.
H.256 (or HEVC) is even more efficient, with an average HD movie coming in at only around 300mb. You’re limited to what is available within HEVC Video Club, but there’s quite a lot to tide you over until you can speed that Internet connection up.
Find a Faster VPN
If you’re using Kodi, you’re likely using a VPN. If not, you should start as a VPN will keep your information private and protect you against any legal issues.
Best VPN Services of 2017
VPN stands for virtual private network. Essentially, a VPN won’t show the originating IP address, and instead return the IP address of the VPN providers through one of their gateways. You can learn more about what VPNs are here.
The cause of buffering issues could be your VPN. If you’re using a free VPN service, then chances are you’re competing for resources with many other users. That creates bottlenecks. Subscription services tend to have more servers and fewer users per server — not to mention better security measures and a stronger commitment to user privacy.
Buffering is the worst part of streaming, but hopefully, this quick guide helped you. If you’ve done everything and there are still issues, you seriously need to consider your Internet connection and router.
If you want more content to stream, check out our favorite unofficial Kodi add-ons. If you’re just looking for ways to make Kodi your own, check our top official Kodi add-ons. You can also check out our Kodi archive for more guides and reviews built around the Kodi ecosystem.