Thursday, August 25, 2011

Netflix Router Optimization Guide - How to Improve Netflix Performance on Home Networks By Using Quality of Service (QoS)

Unable to Connect to Netflix? Netflix fails will drive you crazy. This guide will show you how to optimize Netflix performance on your home router, without crippling network performance for other connected devices.

Netflix is a bandwidth-intensive application. Most home networks contain a LOT of devices (PCs, gaming consoles, network-connected media players, iPhones, etc.), and this can cause major network congestion - causing Netflix stuttering, decreased image quality and disconnects. 

Conversely, some Netflix-connected devices (particularly the Playstation 3), will use all your bandwidth, overwhelming your network and choking / crippling Internet traffic to other devices on the network.

Most home routers have a feature called a Quality of Service (QoS) Engine (sometimes known as Traffic Shaping) which allows you to customize how your router handles network traffic. Before I implemented QoS rules, if a PS3 on the network was streaming Netflix, other devices connected to the network would often experience very slow Internet access, or get disconnected from the network altogether. Since implementing these rules, issues have been rare. Obviously - your mileage may vary.

Things to Consider:

1. It's not possible to detail the specific steps for every kind of router - there are simply too many.  If you are clueless about how to set up wireless routers, there's no shame in that. Consider using a reference guide.

2. Some routers do not have QoS options; some do but offer less customization than others. Your mileage may vary. 

3. Some routers also have features listed under QoS such as "Automatic Classification" and "Dynamic Fragmentation". Leave these enabled unless you have good reason to disable them.

4. If your Internet bandwidth is too low, you're going to run into problems no matter what QoS rules you implement. Streaming video is bandwidth intensive; streaming HD video is very bandwidth intensive.


1. Make a list of all your network-connected devices and their IP addresses. Place them in order of desired bandwidth priority. If you haven't already, you'll have to reserve static IP addresses for each connected device, to ensure the device IP is always the same. For example, your list might look like:

  • 1 - PS3 in living room - IP address (netflix player)
  • 2 - PC in office - IP address
  • 3 - PC in kid's room - IP address
  • 4 - iPad - IP address
  • 5 - iPod Touch - IP address

2. Access your router's settings interface. If you don't know how, try one of the following links:

If you don't know your password, consult this page, which has default router login/passwords for pretty much every router. As a general rule, the default is login: admin, password: admin (of course, if that's your password - CHANGE IT).

3. Find the Quality of Service (QoS) Engine settings (sometimes called Traffic Shaping).On D-Link routers, this is usually found on the Advanced tab. On Linksys routers, this is usually found on the Applications & Gaming tab. Your router may differ; consult the manual if you cannot find it - or google your router make & model + "quality of service".

4. Assign the desired priority to each device on your network. For example, if you want to give top priority to your Netflix device(s), assign these devices a priority of 1. If you want to give top priority to connected PCs to ensure Internet traffic is not slowed or interrupted, assign the PCs a priority of 1. (See D-Link example below).

5. Save settings and reboot the router. Ultimately, you will want to experiment with different configurations. Personally, I like to assign top priority to my PCs, so that web-browsing / email etc. is not slowed or interrupted if another device is streaming Netflix. Every network will be different based on the needs of the user(s). If you want to really optimize your router, consider installing the DD-WRT Firmware.

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