In some case, you may notice poor network performance in streaming multimedia files to Vista or Windows 7 client systems. Symptoms typically include video choppiness or annoying skips during playback. Long pauses upon initiating playback of files can also occur. If you encounter issues such as this, you could simply be a victim of some poor choices for default settings within the operating system.
If you experience this, it could be for any number of reasons depending on how you have your home network setup. Unfortunately, there are few ways to actually test if any of those reasons apply to you, but there are some physical aspects we can look at to narrow things down a little.
- If you’re on a wireless network, there’s probably little that can actually be done aside from positioning for a stronger signal. We are going to assume your home network is wired gigabit Ethernet.
- Streaming to other clients (networked media players, other OSes, etc,) work fine. Only problems to Vista/Windows 7 systems over the network encounter playback issues.
- Playback of the problematic files locally does not exhibit network playback behavior.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at the registry settings involved that could very well resolve your system’s network playback issues:
Editing the registry can drastically affect your system and potentially make it unusable. Do not perform these steps without a recent system backup and knowledge of how to restore your system state. You should also know how to undo any changes outlined here. You have been warned.
The first one we are going visit is bandwidth throttling. This was introduced in Vista and subsequently leaked over into Windows 7, continuing to cause many people grief. Open your registry editor by running regedit from the Start -> Search programs and files field. You should be an administrator of the system you are doing this on. We now want to browse to:
Once there, a new DWORD value needs to be created called DisableBandwidthThrottling. Create that value and double-click it to open it for editing. Change the Base radio button to Decimal then change the Value data entry to 1. Click OK to accept the new value.
Now, I recommend you go ahead and reboot at this point and once getting back to your Desktop, try streaming a file that has always been troublesome before. If you stream without choppiness, stutter or skipping, you’re problems are solved and you can end here. If you are still experiencing trouble, continue on and try the next registry change.
Next (re-open your registry editor if not already opened), let’s browse to:
and locate the NetworkThrottlingIndex DWORD entry. Double-click it to open and change the Base to Decimal. The default value for this DWORD is 10, but the valid range for it is 1 to 70. You can try lower values than 10, but I want to start off with totally disabling by using a value of 1 in the Value data field. Click OK to accept and reboot once more. Upon returning to your Desktop, try streaming a troublesome file once again to see if it plays back properly. If so, you should be good to go and can repeat this process on any other Vista/Windows 7 systems on your network that pose a problem.
If this doesn’t resolve your issues, you could also try disable Remote Differential Compression. Other than that, it may take some additional troubleshooting to find the root of your problem. Feel free to use the Q&A Forum if you need additional advice…I’ll be happy to try and help you get it resolved.