Streaming video stutter "buffering" despite sufficient lead indicated

Streaming video stutter "buffering" despite sufficient lead indicated by progress bar?

What causes online streaming video to "buffer" (spinning circle with percentage counter in the center of the screen) every other second even though there is plenty of downloaded progress well ahead of that point already? I find this happening on many different sites with flash or jwplayer and the video will pause and display a count up to 100% even if it starts at 98% or goes almost instantly up to 100% and this will repeat again as often as every other second or spoken word of dialogue during viewing. This will happen in Firefox and IE8 and even if the progress bar shows twice as much progress as the position in the video or even when it is shows as more than halfway alreay. Pausing the video and waiting doesn't seem to help, nor does going forward or back in the video, though sometimes it might go through the part where it already stopped, and sometimes not, it usually immediately will resume stutter-buffering again and I end up seeking the video on another site to watch wihich may or may not be better.

My connection speed is fine, speedtest results usually are 4.5mbps at the lowest down and 0.65mbps upstream on att elite dsl dryloop - ping usually 47ms. It happens when the browser is the only application running and my machine is the only one on in the house and it is a p4 3.2Ghz hyperthreading Northwood CPU and an ati radeon HD 3850 AGP GPU with 4gb PC3200 physical ram in dual channel configuration (though XP SP3 sees onln 3.25Gb). Flash has been uninstalled and reinstalled numerous times and is the most current version available. So what's the dealio? Often times if there are 10 sites where I might watch the same video, none or maybe 1 or two are actually watchable, and it is generally immediately apparent if that is going to be the case or not because it starts the buffer stutter within the first 30 seconds of a 22 minute video.

I would have though it was a site problem, but it happens across so many different ones that I am now unsure what is causing it.
Anyone else experience this or know if it is fixable?
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  1. Best answer
    EXACT same problem here! I noticed this a couple years back but alas couldn't find anyone noticing the same symptoms. I'd say it happens a lot more likely than people realize and they just don't putt two and two together.

    As you say, I have noticed it across many sites (bear in mind many sites use the same players and likely control mechanisms. For instance sockshare and putlocker have the same player). But I've noticed this in several. Again I have lightening fast speeds with zero issues when it comes to network connectivity (be it LAN or WAN). All I can figure is that the status bar at the bottom, though shaded, is an overall percentage, and not necessarily in the same order of front to back. So as with torrents, you download from multiple places. It's likely the sites with similar players, like sockshare and putlocker, are ultimately owned by the same company and host the same file in multiple locations as redundancy. As a result, packets are sent from both hosts and arrive in all mixed up orders. BUT instead of displaying portions of greyed out areas it simply crunches them all into, from left to right, configuration for ease of viewing, and of coarse, taking preference on sending lowered number packets (not smaller) in an attempt to provide fluidity.
    You may notice that utorrent now offers a "play" feature in their software and works very similar in playback as these web-hosted players do.

    This is the nearest I can figure and along those lines of thinking, that means the players are operating as they are expected and designed to. Not that there might not be a better method, but that there is no specific way to fix this issue.

    I can't confirm any of this as it's merely an educated guess, but the hypothesis seems explain what we have been seeing and even provides an example of how to replicate using a different program.

    I know it's not the answer you'd like to hear but never-the-less, I believe it to be the answer.

    -Jayce (Spoutinwyze)
  2. Best answer selected by voxleo.
  3. Hmm... that actually makes some sense. I never thought of if not being a linear consecutive download like the torrents- good call. At least its an explanation that fits the circumstances where I could find none before. So its just a matter of supply not meeting the demand load in terms of speed because the chunks are not necessarily all there in order - very reasonable theory anyway and enough to curb my curiosity and annoyance to have at least SOMETHING to make sense of it.

    Thanks for the update! And it is good to know I'm not the only one, since I had trouble finding anyone else too...
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