Running slow? Nonstop pausing? Random buffering right before the good part?
I know how that feels.
When your Chromebook keeps buffering randomly and it ruins your experience on Twitch, YouTube, or even when scrolling through your TikTok feed, it’s a problem.
Buffering is annoying, and it always seems like it happens when your favorite streamer is about to land that skillshot or when the video is just getting good.
Why is it like that?!?!
Thankfully, you can use the process of elimination to find out why it’s so laggy and resolve the technical glitch.
In this guide, we’ll go through a bunch of different steps to take to fix the video buffering. It flows logically from least to most work so you can get it fixed without wasting too much time.
Note that some of it may be obvious to you, but for others who are less technically inclined, it could be new information.
If you have questions, you can ask me by posting a comment at the end of the page.
Let’s fix that buffering!
Why is my Chromebook buffering so much?
First, it’s important to find out why your Chromebook is buffering. Identify the issue. Then resolve it.
This will help you fix it more efficiently rather than trying random things…randomly.
Is it your Chromebook or is it the WiFi?
Finding out if it’s your device that’s having some technical glitches or if it’s simply the WiFi connection itself is the first step.
Sometimes, it may seem like it’s your device that’s constantly buffering because it’s malfunctioning, but in reality, it’s the network.
There are some things you can do to test this and find out why your Chromebook buffers so often.
Does it buffer only on specific apps or programs?
If buffering frequently takes place only when you use specific apps or visit certain websites, it could be isolated to that scenario.
For example, does it buffer nonstop when you watch YouTube videos, but not when you’re browsing your Facebook feed?
It could be due to a technical issue on YouTube’s servers which will resolve temporarily. Or your YouTube video settings can be changed to accommodate your connection speed.
Yes, they exist. For example, if you have a slower WiFi or weak connection, you can change it to “low latency” mode. If you only get lag on a specific situation, then investigate it.
Find out why it is only that site or program. Find out if there are settings you can toggle to fix it. Contact their support team for assistance to fix it.
But if you get slowdown or buffering everywhere, no matter what you’re doing online, then it’s likely only your device.
It could be a hardware issue (damaged WiFi card, weak router) or software issue (too many tabs, Chrome extension interference, or overloading the RAM/CPU).
That makes it more difficult to find out the source of the buffering, but we can dive into it and fix it with some basic practices.
Does it happen during certain times of the day more than others?
If your connection is intermittent, it can be due to the constant flux of peak hour usage of bandwidth. Some data plans will slow down when lots of devices are connected at the same time.
If you’re sharing WiFi with other people in a building (dorm, apartment, hotel, etc.) or even with family or friends in the same house, it can slow down if everyone is using it simultaneously.
This can cause unexpected buffering on Chrome during periods of the day.
It’s not always going to be the same time, but it may be within a range of hours throughout the day. Weekends and weekdays also differ.
You can test this by using your phone’s hotspot or different router during those hours when bandwidth is limited. This can isolate the issue and pinpoint it.
Does it buffer when you’re at a specific location?
If you’re getting slow down when you’re at a specific place, it can be due to the weak WiFi connection there.
Fixing WiFi issues on a Chromebook is simple when ruling out possible causes of the slow Internet.
For example, if your Chromebook buffers when you’re at school or work, but doesn’t when you’re at home, then it can be due to slow WiFi, weak connection, or limited bandwidth.
This rules out the possibility that it’s your Chromebook that’s having buffering problems. It’s the network!
Have you tried connecting to different WiFi hotspots (public WiFi, phone hotspot, other networks, friend or neighbors)?
Lastly, if you take your device far away from the network that’s giving you issues by switching to another network, does it still persist?
Try using your friend or neighbor’s WiFi, or a rando public one to test the connection. Does it buffer? Or is it smooth playback? Try your phone’s hotspot or use LTE on your Chromebook if you have it.
If your device magically stops buffering when you connect to a different WiFi, then yeah, it’s likely an issue with the WiFi connection.
If it’s your home network that’s slow, call your provider and ask for troubleshooting.
Test the WiFi strength
You can test the WiFi connection of your Chromebook by running this diagnostic test:
It gives a bit more info compared to relying on the WiFi status panel. You can see exactly how strong the signal is at any point in time.
It may be helpful when trying to figure out if it’s a WiFi issue. Try combining it with the other techniques to stop the buffering.
My Chromebook is always buffering and it’s not the WiFi!
So you’ve ruled out that it’s not the WiFi that’s making your Chromebook buffer, but it’s the Chromebook itself.
You’ve tested different WiFi networks but the issue still persists.
If your Chromebook is the culprit, I have solutions for that too.
Here are likely scenarios for the lag and how to resolve them.
Too many Chrome Extensions
When you have a bunch of extensions installed on Chrome, it can seriously hinder your Chromebook’s performance.
There’s an extension for everything that can modify nearly anything on Chrome. Some extensions may take up a lot of resources (such as CPU or RAM), which can slow your Chromebook down to a halt.
When the hardware is being utilized, it can render video unplayable, which can lead to buffering. Buffering stems from both the source of the video (server it’s stored on) and your Chromebook’s ability to decode and play the video.
Even if the server is sending over the video data, the video won’t play if your device is overloaded. You never really know what requests those extensions put on your system and what resources they use.
So get rid of the ones you don’t need to significantly improve your Chromebook’s performance.
- Start by going to Chrome > Extensions (puzzle icon at the top right)
- Go through the list and remove all the ones you rarely use or don’t know why it’s there
- Check if the video still buffers
If it does, go back to the list of extensions. You should be left with only the ones you need. But even then, it could be one particular extension that’s hogging all the resources. Disable them all. Then play a video
If it plays without buffering, then it’s because of some extension. Go back to your list of extensions. Enable them one by one.
Each time you enable one, test the video. Once you find which one causes the video to load, you found it. Uninstall it or find a substitute that doesn’t lag your Chromebook.
You’ll find that the fewer you have, the greater the performance overall. It affects everything from page loading to launching Chrome from the Launcher. Get rid of the junk extensions just like how you uninstall useless apps on your phone!
Low storage space remaining
Most Chromebooks only have 16, 32, or 64GB of storage. When you use most of it up, it can cause videos to buffer.
Some of the volume is used by the OS when under stress. So when you’re out of space, it has no extra SSD space to unload system processes such as video rendering.
This can cause temporary buffering that usually resolves itself within a few seconds, but then continues randomly throughout the course of the video.
Check your storage space by going to the Files app. If you have less than 20% storage remaining, I suggest freeing some of it up:
- Delete useless videos, pictures, or files you have saved locally on your drive
- Move media you want to keep to cloud storage (Drive is free and integrated with ChromeOS).
- Offload files or media onto external storage
- Archive large files
- Install Play Store apps you don’t use
You’ll notice slight to significant performance improvement on Chrome by getting rid of clutter that’s clogging up storage.
Too many tabs
Tabs are the resource drain that can easily be stopped but are often overlooked.
People generally leave tabs open in the background because they think they’ll need to refer back to it later or they’re using it for reference.
Whatever the case, you should close out tabs that you’re not actively using.
If you need to reference them later, save them to your reading list, or group them together as a bookmark. Tabs will drain the system resource on your Chromebook like nothing, especially the RAM.
This is why apps/extensions for Chrome such as The Great Suspender were created (not defunct).
Chrome also added its own tab suspender, which pauses tabs that are inactive to free up system resources from being hogged up.
It just goes to show you how much system resources are dedicated to tabs.
So close them out to speed up your system and possibly help get rid of video buffering!
Reduce CPU load
We all know that Chromebooks aren’t the most powerful laptops on the market. They’re designed to be affordable, entry-level devices that do the majority of everyday computing tasks.
This is why they’re so popular with school districts. Since they’re cheap, they’re not equipped with the most top-end hardware.
Because of this, you can easily max out the load on your Chromebook’s CPU, which will make it stutter, lag, or freeze.
Similar to having a ton of extensions overloading Chrome, having too many processes running simultaneously does the same thing.
When you have music playing in the background, Facebook and Instagram up, and Wordle up on the screen, you can hinder your Chromebook’s performance by a ton.
Depending on the system specs, you may be running your CPU at max load. If this happens, you’ll start to notice that it takes longer to launch programs, stuttering or lag between tabs, or even non-stop video buffering.
To remedy this, shut down any tabs or apps you don’t need at that moment. This can reduce the load on the processor and speed it up immediately. Or get a stronger Chromebook so you can play games like Among Us or Fortnite.
Check RAM load
The RAM is what lets you do multiple things at the same time.
The more RAM your Chromebook is equipped with, the more programs, tabs, apps, and games you can have running simultaneously. Most Chromebooks only have 2 or 4GB of RAM, which isn’t a whole lot.
When you max it out, your Chromebook will start lagging or stuttering, including buffering videos. Similar to CPU load, reduce the number of things you have open at the same time to help improve performance.
Additionally, restart your Chromebook once in a while. This will wipe the RAM cache which may collect lingering data in the background over time
You’ll probably notice immediate performance improvement by simply restarting your machine if you haven’t done so in a while.
Programs, Java, video, games
If you have a lot of things runnings, this will guarantee to slow down your system. Video buffering is just one of the symptoms of it.
Leaving too many programs running in the background is not only unnecessary, but it also makes your Chromebook work extra hard and generate heat.
This can kill the battery and reduce battery performance quickly. Close out of apps or programs that you’re not actively using, especially if they’re resource-demanding like games, videos, or java-based web apps.
Pending ChromeOS updates
Got updates pending? Do them! Not only do they fix vulnerabilities, but also integrate new features, and even fix bugs, they actually can improve performance!
Check for updates by launching Chrome and then going to the “About” menu. Install, then restart your system for the updates to complete.
Your Chromebook checks and installs updates on its own periodically, but requires a full restart to install them completely.
This means using the restart from the menu, not just hibernation or sleep mode by shutting the lid on your laptop, friend! This is good practice.
You should restart it regularly to get those updates in. It also clears the cache and fixes glitches that are stuck processes in the background.
Update then restart your Chromebook at least once every other week to keep it running smoothly.
If you’ve been using your computer for quite some time and it’s old, you should consider doing a Powerwash. This will restore it back to default settings and clean out all the files on it.
Of course, make a backup of your important data first. Once you do that, you can safely restore it which will remove all the clutter on it. This can make it fast again. Resetting is even possible without a password.
Since this is invasive, only Powerwash it as a last resort. Video buffering can often be fixed with other means rather than wiping your drive!
With these tips in mind, you should be able to reduce or completely stop your Chromebook from buffering.
Being that they’re self-repairing and built for efficiency, fixing lag should be straightforward unless there’s broken hardware or something.
Why is my Chromebook so slow all of a sudden?
Slow Chromebook? That’s not good.
Chromebooks are advertised to be anything but slow- they’re self-updating, self-repairing, and designed to be speedy. If you’ve ever seen a Chromebook ad, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
These laptops are supposed to be lightweight on resources.
Chromebooks generally don’t have much in terms of hardware power, so ChromeOS is designed to be efficient because it doesn’t have a lot of horsepower under the hood to work with.
Even then, Chromebooks can definitely slow down over time.
While this can usually be fixed in a few minutes, other issues like screen buffering can be persistent.
You know the feel- the screen pauses and it just shows the spinner/loading symbol.
Then maybe it fixes for 5 seconds only to buffer again. Chrome buffering is normal, but when it’s frequent, it’ll make you go crazy.
Choppy YouTube videos, laggy Twitch streams, or non-stop buffering on your social networks is no fun.
How can I make Chrome buffer faster?
Buffering “faster” isn’t really a thing.
It’s limited to your Chromebook’s processing speed, the data transmission speed from the server you’re watching on, and your connection to the Internet.
If you’ve already cleaned out your Chromebook (removing extensions, shutting down tabs, closing programs, etc.), then check your WiFi connection speed.
Check your speed online (speedtest), run a test, then examine the speed. To stream video smoothly, you should have at least 100Mbs at the minimum for high resolution on major sites.
If your WiFi is up and running, then it may be the web hosting service that’s having issues. Use something like Downdetector to check for issues, or try on a different device like your phone.
If it’s still slow, it’s likely the website that’s could be overloaded which can buffer randomly,
Something else to keep in mind: School Chromebooks are slow. They’re often loaded up with restrictive extensions pre-installed while locked down as part of the enrollment program.
You can’t do much to speed them up since school districts put limitations on the system which bog down resources.
Consider purchasing your own Chromebook so you can do things like get other browsers, run VLC, or even get Ubuntu?
Why is Twitch buffering so much?
Twitch may buffer for multiple reasons. I’ve had my share of stream buffering right a streamer I follow gets a pentakill in League.
If Twitch is buffering a lot, consider the following:
Twitch may be having high server loads or downtime
- Use downtime detector to see if it’s you or everyone
- Your Chromebook may be running to many things at once
- Restart your system then try again
- Run Twitch at a lower resolution
- Try low latency mode on Twitch
- Check your WiFi connection strength
- Try closing out other tabs and only just having Twitch open
There are many ways to watch Twitch on your Chromebook. But when your stream buffers, it can kill the mood.
Why is YouTube buffering all the time?
Similar to Twitch, other video streaming sites like YouTube can face similar slowdowns due to server issues.
Follow the same suggestions above- try low latency mode or try reducing the resolution (use 480 or 720P). If it suddenly fixes the buffering, you can be sure that it’s likely your connection speed.
If it still doesn’t fix, try restarting your device. This fixes a lot of common issues (RAM, CPU load, background processes, etc.).
Shut off apps you’re not using. Close out tabs you don’t need. You know- the basics we’ve discussed already in this guide.
Choppy video streams, pause and go, or low-quality resolution are all signs of a poor WiFi connection. Check your WiFi’s signal strength and start from there.
Why does my Chromebook have a weak WIFI signal?
ISP downtime, overloaded router, or even if you’re too far from the WAP, it can all make your WiFi connection poor.
Try moving closer to the router, rebooting it, checking for network issues, etc. You can often resolve WiFi issues like disconnections with basic steps.
Is it a virus or malware that makes it slow or buffer?
Not really. Chrome OS is designed to be secure and self-repairing.
Being that it’s built on Linux, it’s extremely safe by nature.
BUT that doesn’t mean it’s not vulnerable to Chrome extensions that are poorly coded or rogue. Or if you install random apps or games that can be compromised.
Other than that, you can’t really break these things. They’re not susceptible to those trojans or viruses.
You just need to be careful with what you install to Chrome from the Web Store or the apps you installed from the Play Store.
Sometimes, you may only be installing “safe” or reputable ones but since you installed so many, they slow down your Chromebook.
Did you fix the video buffering on your Chromebook?
Fixing the buffering is easy if you know where to look. It’s all about the process of elimination to find out what’s causing the buffering first, then resolve it.
Check your WiFi connection first. Then check if something’s wrong with the website. Then look to clean up your hardware by removing junk files, games, apps, programs, or extensions on Chrome.
If you’ve tried everything and you’re still getting buffering, then Powerwash it.
If you’ve done the suggestions outlined in this troubleshooting guide but you’re still getting buffering, just post your question in the comments.
If you found this guide useful, please let me know as well!
(I know it’s oversimplifying something that many of you know how to do, but some people don’t.)
Thanks for reading!