My Apple TV kept buffering and freezing the other day. It always seems like I face this issue when there’s more than one person using the Internet.
Sometimes it buffers so much it’s almost impossible to watch anything. In other cases, Apple TV freezes when I’m trying to change the channel while using the remote. If your Apple TV keeps freezing, I have a couple of troubleshooting methods that seem to work.
If your Apple TV buffers or freezes, the most common issue is related to your Internet connection. You will have to check to ensure your Internet is operating properly and may even need to reboot your router. Other times, it’s an issue with the actual Apple TV service and you will have to simply wait it out while they fix the problem on their end.
We’ve used several troubleshooting techniques and are happy to share them with you below.
Why Apple TV Freezes or Buffers Constantly
Buffering is a common issue we face every day while we’re surfing the Internet, watching our favorite TV show, or scrolling through our phones. Apple TV is no stranger to buffering or freezing issues.
Some of the most common reasons why your Apple TV is buffering or freezing constantly is due to the following:
- Your network connection is slow or unstable
- You don’t have enough bandwidth to stream
- An app on the device is not working or is using too much energy
- The software is out of date
We found that most of the time, it’s the Internet causing our buffering issue. Generally, you need about 3 Mbps of download speed to stream on an Apple TV.
Most broadband provides about 11 Mbps, so if your Apple TV keeps freezing and you’re sure you have enough Internet speed, there may be somebody or something else in your home downloading or streaming something at the same time as you.
If your Internet is below 3 Mbps, your Apple TV is sure to freeze or buffer a lot. It may not even run at all.
Another reason your Internet speed could be slower on your Apple TV is because the TV is too far from your WiFi router or it’s not in a place where the WiFi can reach the TV easily. Not all routers are strong enough to carry WiFi through walls or other structures.
If your Apple TV is close to your router and your other devices are lagging as well, there may be an issue with your Internet service provider and they may have to help you figure out why your Internet speeds aren’t up to par.
Troubleshooting Apple TV
1. Check Your Internet Connection
The first thing you want to do if your Apple TV just won’t cooperate is to check your Internet connection. If you’re using a cellular connection, try connecting your device to WiFi and then try again.
2. Check For Patchy Coverage of WiFi or Mobile Data
If you’re using a router, ensure it’s compatible with an 802.11a/g/n/ac network standard. If the router is compatible, then you should then try running a speed test.
This speed test will ensure that you’re streaming at 8Mbps or higher for HD content, 6Mbps for 720p, and 2.5 Mbps for standaard definition. For 4K televisions, you’ll need 25Mbps.
If the speed test reassures you that you have adequate bandwidth, then you should now look for other devices that may be clogging the Internet highway in your home.
If other people are downloading content on the same network at the same time as you, then you need to ask them to stop for a little while so you can see if it fixes the problem. If it does, then you need to increase your bandwidth. If this doesn’t work, consider a router meant more for streaming than casual use.
If you’re using mobile data, you’ll need to make sure you have good enough service or WiFi to run the app. If you don’t have good service, it’s going to make your Apple TV app buffer and freeze while it waits for data it needs to run.
Additionally, if you’re connected to the WiFi on your mobile device, you should check to make sure the WiFi isn’t being clogged by other devices.
3. Restart Your Router
Restarting your router can solve a lot of issues when it comes to how well your Internet is working.
This is one of the first things a tech support agent is going to ask you to do if you call them. They’ll tell you to unplug your router and modem and everything connected to it. You’ll have to wait about 2 minutes and then you’ll want to plug it back in.
Wait until all of the lights come on and try to use the Apple TV again. If it stops buffering, your WiFi just needed a little refresher. If it doesn’t solve the issue, it’s time to try some other troubleshooting steps.
4. Turn Home Sharing Off Then On Again
Whenever your Apple TV gets stuck on the home-sharing screen, the simple thing to do is turn it off and then on again. This is how you can do this:
- Launch iTunes
- Go to the File section
- Select Home Sharing
- Turn the option Off then On
- Sign into your Apple ID account
This should certainly fix your issue if home sharing is the culprit. Home sharing is where you can stream music, movies, TV shows, photos, and other content from various iOS devices.
Both the device and Apple ID have to be signed into the device to allow home sharing to work. If you recently changed your password and were signed out of everything, this could be why your home sharing isn’t working.
5. Restart Your Device
Restarting your device is one of the simplest solutions for fixing issues with buffering and freezing.
By Using Your Remote
As long as your screen isn’t completely frozen, you can perform the reset through the remote. Here’s how to do it:
- Hold down the Home or Apple TV app button and Menu buttons
- Let go of both buttons once you see a flashing light on the device
For aluminum or white Apple remotes, hold the Down and Menu buttons and let go immediately. You will see a flashing light.
By Unplugging Your Apple TV
If your device is frozen, you’ll have to power cycle the Apple TV. All you have to do is unplug it, wait for 30 seconds, then plug it back in. This will simply soft reset the TV and you should now be able to use it.
This is especially useful if you’ve had a power outage recently. There could be some static charge within the device that’s making it run terribly. Unplugging everything from the box and letting all power drain from can be an effective solution.
6. Perform Hard Reset Of Apple TV
A hard reset is a last resort option before you contact customer care. Hard resetting your Apple TV will erase your device’s memory and restore it to factory settings. It will also remove any information you have added to it. This is only recommended if your Apple TV is frozen on the home screen, especially if the soft reset doesn’t work. Here’s how it’s done:
- Navigate to Settings>System/General>Reset
- After clicking on Reset, choose an option >Reset or Reset and Update (Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD) or Reset All Settings or Restore (Apple TV 3rd Generation)
- Choose Reset to return the device to factory settings and install the software updates
- For the 3rd generation devices, you will want to choose Reset All Settings to reset all settings including configurations and accounts
- You could also select Restore to return the device to factory settings and install software updates if necessary
During this process, you have to make sure that the device is always connected to a power source. If the progress bar seems to be stuck on the update, don’t unplug or restart the Apple TV. Give it enough time to finish the update. If it continues for several hours, then you can contact Apple support.
7. Update Apple TV Software
Sometimes all your TV needs is a simple software update. Just like with iPhones and iPads, the lack of software updates can make your device run sluggish or not at all. Here’s how to perform the update:
- Open Settings on your Apple TV
- Navigate to System>Software Updates
- If there is a software update available, a message will appear
- Select Download and Install to begin the process
- Don’t unplug the Apple TV during the update process. You may see a status light flash slowly during the update
It’s really as simple as that. The software update may not solve the issue if you have a poor Internet connection though. It’s simply to ensure your device has all the proper firmware to allow it to run efficiently.
8. Reduce Resolution to 720P
Using any Apple TV can result in an excess amount of data usage to multiple features that may be enabled by default. This can include the weekly download of high-resolution screensavers and system/app updates.
One way to cut down on this is to lower the video resolution of your Apple TV by following these steps:
- Navigate to Video and Audio
- Set video format by selecting Format
- Choose Resolution and select 720P
- You can also change the frame rate and dynamic settings for video playback if you want
Contact Apple Support
The last thing you can do if your TV isn’t working is to contact Apple support. They can provide you with comprehensive support information through phone or live chat options.
Their support includes software updates and utilities, technical support, and product information. You can reach out to them at 1-800-APLCARE or through their website’s support section.
When you contact them, they’re going to ask you to verify your Apple ID, name, and other personal information.
They may also ask you to perform all the steps we’ve provided for you above. If you’ve done all of them, you can tell them that and they will advise you what to do next, which may include a replacement device or repair at one of their locations.
Did you know that most smart TVs can work without an Internet connection? You can use your smartphone data plan to stream to your TV.
While it’s not ideal, it can work if you don’t have an Internet service plan or if your connection is down!