We’ve all been there: Relaxed, feet up, with Netflix playing on the big screen. It’s that pivotal moment in LOST where Jack plays out his dramatic “we live together or die alone” speech. Then it happens – that annoying black screen pops up —“BUFFERING” —. Whether you let loose with a few choice words, or simply sit back and patiently wait for Jack to return, it’s Frustrating with a capitol F. At some point, you check your connections and maybe even reboot your hardware in an attempt to fix the problem. All the while thinking, “My internet is soooo slow! I’ve checked everything – it’s got to be my internet provider’s problem.” — Sound familiar?
Now, I’ve been married to an Internet Technician for 15 years, so I’m not what you’d consider “green” when it comes to the internet. I can upload, stream, and ping with the best of them. So, when Jack got interrupted on my big screen, I did what anyone with my background knowledge would do: threw my hands in the air, and yelled at my husband to come fix the dang internet.
As my patient husband logged into our router, I could see a list of devices that are connected to my internet. Mind you, I don’t have a huge family, but each of my four kids have been accused of being “data junkies” by their grandparents.
So, here’s what I saw when I looked over the list of devices connected to my internet: There’s the home PC (of course), my husband’s laptop (duh), the X-Box (a.k.a. my son’s best friend), the TiVo recording a show in the family room, the blue-ray player, my daughter’s Kindle, my other daughter’s IPOD, three cell phones, and my four year old on the family tablet. Do the math – that’s ELEVEN devices connected to my internet all at the same time. WOWZA. Talk about a “Light-bulb” moment.
In today’s world it seems like every device on the market has Wi-Fi capabilities. And whether you realize it or not, many of those devices are always connected, or are set to automatically connect whenever they are turned on. And here’s the bottom line: all of those devices share your internet speed. Think of it this way, if you’re like me, you’ve got to split your favorite apple pie into ELEVEN pieces. That makes for pretty small slices – and in most cases someone is going to go without. When there’s not enough pie to go around, Netflix buffers and Jack’s dramatic speech gets interrupted.
So how do you watch that LOST episode on Netflix without buffering? Well, you’ve got two options. Don’t share your pie (kick all the other family members off their devices and deal with the aftermath), or buy a bigger pie (up your internet speed so there is enough speed to share). Remember, Netflix recommends a minimum download speed of 5Mb for HD quality video https://help.netflix.com/en/node/306.
Being the super-mom I am, I opted for getting a bigger pie. I now have enough bandwidth for all my family members to share, which means I’m now watching Jack without any buffering (YAY!). Plus, my kids are happy because they still get their pie in the evenings too. It’s a good thing I can tell my router to disconnect all my kid’s devices at bedtime – so they don’t turn into “data junkies” after all. But learning to use your router’s Parental Controls? That’s a story for another day.