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Online video choppy

Posted on 2009-04-18
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I frequently have problems with online video, either using quicktime videos or flash (YouTube like).  I have a very fast machine and internet (Quad Core, 8GB Ram, Vista 64, Velociraptor Drives, Nvidia 285, 15mbit fios), so you can have some understanding why I have zero tolerance for this.

Overall the video works fine, but if I am working in another window (Firefox for example) and switch around tabs I get a "hiccup", with quad core cpus and 8gbs of ram I don't know why it really has a problem.  I also have problems with YouTube frequently hiccuping throughout videos even when the image is fully loaded.  Quicktime tends to be the worst of all of them.  For the most part, video is very smooth and runs fine but the short stops and choppiness I get with audio often is driving me crazy.  No matter how fast I make my computer, it seems like I can rarely watch a video online without at least 1 click or stutter.  The only time it works fine is when I download the video to watch.  Sometimes it is very frequent (happening every 30-60 seconds).  For the amount of time and money I put into keeping my computer up to date, I get extremely frustrated to have even small stutters in videos (especially when I know it isn't related to downloading or internet speed).
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Question by:CharlieBeBop
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Author Comment

by:CharlieBeBop
ID: 24177964
I just want to clarify, during these periods, my CPU usage is typically less than 1-2% and I almost always have 2-4GB of ram free.  It seems to have nothing to do with the performance of my machine and more to do with FireFox, I am not a fan of using IE, and when I am watching a long video I will occasionally open a second firefox browser (although I typically only use one copy whenever possible).
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Expert Comment

by:torimar
ID: 24178309
For quite some time there have been known issues with x64 plugins and codecs. There are basically three moves you could make in order to help us isolate the core of the problem:

1.) Try another browser; I recommend Opera or Chrome.
2.) Install a 32bit version of your browser and plugins.
3.) Try another video player (you didn't comment on the one you use). I'd recommend one or all of these:
-- VLC: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/download-windows.html
-- Mplayer: http://www.mplayerhq.hu/design7/info.html
-- Media Player Classic: http://www.start64.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1376&Itemid=72
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Author Comment

by:CharlieBeBop
ID: 24178332
torimar

Thanks for your response.   I do not use 64 bit Firefox or plug-ins since they are not mainstream and not officially supported.   I do run Windows Vista 64 bit OS, but I had similar problems under XP 32 bit.  

I use FF 99% of the time, but I am going to try IE with some videos.  I cannot use Chrome or Opera as I require access to Roboform.

As for the media player, I have no problems watching the videos on the local PC, they play fine no matter what player I use it is when I am using online video I don't really have much of a choice in what player I use.  It is either calling quicktime or playing a flash player.

With the amount of hardware I have, my computer is pretty much idle doing 90% of the day to day tasks.
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by:torimar
ID: 24178366
I did not suggest you replace your browser by another one for good. It would be only for troubleshooting purposes; if, for instance, those videos should run fine in Opera, which uses the same Netscape plugins as Firefox, then we'd know it's a Firefox issue, if not even a bug.

Also, you do indeed have kind of choice concerning the player, because all three of the alternative free players I suggested are able to play Quicktime movies. And at least VLC and MP Classic also have browser plugins.
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Author Comment

by:CharlieBeBop
ID: 24178502
Philip, thanks for your response.

I am running the latest (and correct version) of Flash, I frequently download the latest version specifically to eliminate security, performance, and general quirky problems.

I read the three links you presented, I just tested it and cpu usage is 8-14% when running video.
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Expert Comment

by:Philip_Spark
ID: 24178647
Quicktime on windows as I understand has always been occasionally flaky, conspiracy theories abound. Likewise, when I run silverlight on a mac the experience can be less than thrilling. I don't know if quicktime when run through Safari on Windows would fair better, I guess it would come down to the installation some missing codec to cure glitches.
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Expert Comment

by:Hugh Fraser
ID: 24178669
Have you checked your network traffic? Streaming video can consume a lot of bandwidth, and contention or artificial caps like QOS policies might be limiting your connection. For instance, I have seen similar behaviour when using "light" offerings from ISPs that provide .5 to 1 Mb download speeds. Youtube videos can easily use up 1 Mb of download bandwidth.
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Author Comment

by:CharlieBeBop
ID: 24178901
I am on a 15mbit fios connection and typically download 1-2.8MB/s, it is not bandwidth on my end.  Although I can say I have stutters with YouTube even after a video has fully loaded (bar is on the far right side already).  So I really don't think it is as much related to bandwidth.
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Expert Comment

by:Gregg DesElms
ID: 24180439
CharlieBeBop,

This post covers a few things...

If you power down the machine, then start it back up again (and I don't mean restart Windows, but, rather a complete machine shut down and then turn it back on)... if you do that, does it play audio just fine for a while right after turning the machine on and logging in... like a half or whole day, maybe... or maybe even a day or two... before it starts stuttering audio?

Try this:  Play some audio and make sure it's stuttering (if what's happening in the preceding paragraph is your experience, then you'll have to wait for however long it takes to start stuttering).  When it finally does, and you start playing audio, does the stuttering appear to be in something of a repeating pattern... in other words, will it play kinda' smoothly for a second or two, then stutter for a second or two, then play smoothly for a second or two, then stutter... that sort of thing?

If so, then open Notepad (while the audio's still playing and stuttering).  Once it's open, hold down any character key and just, in effect, type continuous lines of that same repeating character... line after line.  Just hold the key down and let 'er rip.  Now, as it's doing that, pay attention.  Look really closely at the characters being repeated... notice the rate at which they're deposited onto the screen... their timing pattern.  At the same/precise moment that the audio stuttering happens, does there also appear to be even the tiniest momentary bit of slowdown or alteration of the repeated characters being typed in Notepad; and then for the second or so that the stuttering stops, does the character stream seem to kinda' smooth out?

If "yes" to all of the above...

What printer are you using?  And is it USB attached or LAN attached?  If it's an HP, are any HP printer-related utilities running down in the system tray... specifically, the "HP Digital Imaging Monitor"?

Download the SysInternals "Process Explorer" product...

     http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx

...which has no installer, so just download it and launch it (preferably "As Administrator").  Once it's open, click on the "CPU" column (probably twice, until the littler arrow therein is pointing downward) so that it will sort by CPU usage with whatever's using the most processes appearing topmost.

Processes or services which have been known to cause stuttering will often be jumping around and seen here.  Third-party network or port or device monitoring which utilizes SVCHOST will sometimes cause stuttering of audio if the machine's been running it a long time.  The HP system tray utilities are notorious for this.  They'll sit in the system tray, pretty as you please, and audio will work fine for a day or so; then, suddenly, it's as if something becomes "backed up" or something... as if too many accumulated processes or hooks in RAM or something.  The stuttering begins.  If one looks in Process Explorer, one sees the SVCHOST service associated with the stuttering flashing up near the top for the brief moment that the stuttering occurs.  And then if one goes and disables the offending process from starting with Windows, suddenly the stuttering is never seen again, no matter how long the machine runs.  It's weird... and frustrating.

Might you have something like that going on?

Also, if you have a wireless LAN card, some users have found that disabling the drivers for it which allow the wireless card to connect with "A" band (as opposed to "B" or "G" or "N" bands) wireless signals will sometimes stop the stutteriing.  Might you have something like that going on?
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Author Comment

by:CharlieBeBop
ID: 24180556
DesElms,

Thanks for your feedback.

I am using a wired 1Gbit nic, and while the video is going, it is taking up 8-14% total cpu out of my 4x 2.8Ghz.  I do not see any processes taking more than 0-1% typically unless I am specifically doing something else.  There seems to be no pattern, it just clips randomly, some sites are better than others, but some quicktime ones are really bad.  I know sometimes it is due to old versions of Camtasia players on the website I visit, but I can distinguish when that is the case.  The fact that preloading the video on YouTube (so it is completely downloaded) and I still hear stuttering disturbs me.  Especially since I have more than enough horse power to process video, I do a lot more demanding things on this computer than watch video and I have no problems.  My printer is attached on my LAN via 1GB connection.
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Expert Comment

by:torimar
ID: 24181016
There are a great number of imaginable causes of this issue. It might be related to:

- the browser
- the player software
- the plugin
- the codec
- the operating system / its TCP/IP settings
- the network
- some resident programme operating in the background
- none of the above

There is an extremely low probability for someone with a similar system like yours who experienced the exact same issue and then managed to solve it to appear in this thread and present his solution to you. And as long as we cannot reproduce the error ourselves, there is little else left to do than to try and circle in on the culprit by running tests with alternatives.

I suggested alternative browsers and plugins above, but we did not have a feedback with results from your side.

As to the OS and network, it would be of much help if you could run tests on other computers on the same network, computers with Vista and computers without.

As to the resident programmes, please check (via Msconfig, Process Explorer or Autoruns: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902.aspx) for tools that run scans or indexing services, and disable them while watching a video. I know that, theoretically, on a quad core system with high resources, a background process should have no impact on the application that holds the focus. But I'm not at all certain, that, with Vista, practice follows theory.
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Expert Comment

by:Hugh Fraser
ID: 24183807
Along with the above suggestions, you should do the standard checks for spyware, and run a full virus scan. Also check the even logs for anything happening during the stutters.
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CharlieBeBop earned 0 total points
ID: 25540484
still unresolved, nothing to do with my machine, happens across many machines and installations on the same machine.  Continues to be a problem with last 10 versions of firefox, numerous complaints online about same problem, yet to find a solution.  When watching longer videos I just use IE or Chrome to avoid the problem.
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