Network - Wireless & Wired Connections

Help & troubleshooting for network issues, including connecting your device to your home Wi-Fi network, connecting to public networks, troubleshooting wireless issues & ethernet connections, and optimizing streaming performance.
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ming666
Level 7

Streaming from plex sever buffering issues

I have the Roku stick + with an excellent signal strength connection to an AC enabled router (clear line of sight about 20 feet away).
My plex media server (laptop with external hard drive) is wired directly into this router.
It won't play high bit rate files (12mbps) without pausing to buffer all the time.

If I do a LAN speed test to the hard drive where the files are stored from a different wireless device (where I can run an objective speed test) I'm reading from the drive at 37Mbps. How can this not be enough to stream to the Roku?

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9 Replies
atc98092
Level 13

Re: Streaming from plex sever buffering issues

Do you have different SSIDs for your different wireless bands? If you're only connecting to the 2.4 GHz radio, then you aren't getting .11ac speeds. I use different SSIDs to ensure I know which I'm connected to. I don't have the Stick+, and it's supposed to have improved wireless capabilities. But the one Roku that I do run wireless (Insignia TV) doesn't have any issues with wireless streaming. While I have Plex, I don't use it on my home network. It's mainly for connecting to my home media when I'm traveling. But I can stream HD video from my DLNA server, with bitstreams exceeding 30 Mbps, without a problem. I'm suspicious of either the Plex app/channel on the Stick, or the Plex server itself. Have you checked the settings in the Plex server to see what bitrate it's set to? Perhaps it's too low, forcing the computer to transcode and reducing performance. 
.
You are correct that 37 Mbps from the hard drive should be enough, although this seems a low transfer rate from the HD. Assuming you wrote that correctly, a USB 2.0 hard drive should be able to transfer data 30–42 MB/s, which is 240-340 Mbps. Note the capital "B", because it changes the actual speed tremendously. If you are only seeing 37 Mbps from the hard drive, that's really low. 
Dan
Nvidia Shield, Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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ming666
Level 7

Re: Streaming from plex sever buffering issues

Thanks for the reply. Yes it's connecting to the 5GHz which is a separate SSID

Typically 10 minutes after I posted I think I solved the problem. I had to turn on 'Force direct play' in the Roku Plex app settings. I thought I was going to have to do it for each movie but there is a setting to apply it as a blanket setting. It would appear that it was trying to transcode everything even though they didn't need it, the bit rate was set to maximum so I don't know why it was doing it. it's running on a pretty old laptop (10 years old) so it couldn't cope with transcoding on the fly.

Regarding the speed. Not a typo it was reading from the remote hard drive at 37Mbps over wireless  using LAN Speed Test. (this was a 2.4ghz connection though since it was an old wireless adaptor I had kicking around and using to test it, so it's probably going faster to the Roku on 5Ghz)
It's a USB2 connection (Old Laptop!)
It only reads at 157Mbps directly from the laptop connected to it. Maybe a bottleneck somewhere.
Anyway, as long as it can do what I need it to do, which it appears to be able to now, all is good.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.
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atc98092
Level 13

Re: Streaming from plex sever buffering issues

Well, 157 Mbps is enough for my UHD ripped 4K movies, so you should be fine. They top out around 110 Mbps.  Smiley Very Happy
.
I suspected it was something related to the Plex server settings, but with computers you never know where a setting might be causing problems. Glad you located it. 
Dan
Nvidia Shield, Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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Smokindog
Level 8

Re: Streaming from plex sever buffering issues

I've reported this elsewhere...  I believe the ROKU Stick (3800) and to a lesser degree Stick+ (3810) have performance issues since the OS9 update.  Yes, separating your SSIDs will allow you to pick the frequency you connect with but that's about it.  It's not a "best practices" suggestion and can lead to worse reception.  Leave them the same and let the device pick on its own. And before anyone wants to start a debate over this, let me end it here, I won't engage......  See my list below.

On OS8 I would be able to "Force Direct Play" on the Stick and Stick+ to get an MPEG2 stream for LiveTV from PLEX without issue.  Now on the Stick I have to reduce the max bandwidth in the PLEX client on OS9 to force transcoding.  The irony is that ROKU is supposed to officially support MPEG2 as of OS 9 and not before Smiley Happy  PS - to get Direct Play MPEG2 in the newest PLEX Preview client without forcing everything you must set the bandwidth to ORIGINAL QUALITY (leave Direct Play on Auto).

******** PLEX IS ALSO HAVING PERFORMANCE and FUNCTIONALITY ISSUES on the ROKU since their December disaster as they migrate a lot of code.  Apparently they waited to the last minute on some APIs ROKU told them were being deprecated.  They were told almost 2 years ago.  There are multiple PLEX channels available, the PLEX client, the PLEX Preview, the PLEX Beta, and the PLEX retro (old APIs).  I use the PLEX Preview which right now is the most up to date (I think).  I'm also testing EMBY as a PLEX replacement.  I focus primarily on LiveTV/DVR with PLEX.

I opened a ticket with ROKU support and was promised a document to detail the officially supported MPEG2 devices but have received nothing although the CSR tech said my 3800, 3810, and 4660 devices do officially support MPEG2.  I'm a bit disappointed with the lack of follow up.


  1. If you haven't already, get the free HDMI extender.  You'll receive it in less than a week, or at lest I did, and you can get them for both the Stick and Stick+ (https://forums.roku.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=69020)

  2. The Stick+ does have some improved reception characteristics because it splits out the WiFi onto the USB cable.  The HDMI extender can still help by getting the whole mess further away from the TV but it'll have less of an impact.

  3. Get yourself a program like WiFi Analyzer for your Windows and/or Android device.  Make sure your host device supports 802.11AC.  Use it to test and/or improve your reception by your TVs.  I'll be happy to help via PM if need be.

  4. Use the WiFI "secret screen" on your ROKU (https://lifehacker.com/all-the-roku-sec ... 1779010902) to see if it's even a reception issue.  You can also see the channel the device is using and relate it back to the WiFi Analyzer results above.  I took some pictures but I don't see a way to post them on this forum.

  5. If you have multiple APs in your house as I do (I've got 4 to cover a long tall thin 2 story and about 2 acres outside), check each AP for the MAC address of the ROKU and you can see which AP is serving your ROKU.

  6. I highly recommend adding DHCP reservations in your DHCP server for each ROKU to make them easy to find in the data while trouble shooting.

  7. Forget the separate SSID thing, it doesn't buy you much of anything and complicates your network (IMO).  The 2.4GHz band may be better in some locations as the lower frequencies propagate better (like through walls, ...).  My Stick+ with 3 walls of separation currently homes in on the 2.4GHz channel and plays MPEG2 fine while two of my Sticks in the same room as the AP and 1 wall over home in on the 5GHz and they have issues.  Again, I believe it to be a performance issue with the Sticks and OS9 coupled with PLEX issues.
Brought to you from someplace in Texas!
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ming666
Level 7

Re: Streaming from plex sever buffering issues

Thanks for the lengthy reply
It’s not a throughput issue. It was simply a matter of turning on ‘force direct’ on the Plex app on the stick or it would just transcode everything, even if it didn’t need it and the laptop the media server is running on wasn’t up to transcoding on the fly
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Smokindog
Level 8

Re: Streaming from plex sever buffering issues

"ming666" wrote:
Thanks for the lengthy reply
It’s not a throughput issue. It was simply a matter of turning on ‘force direct’ on the Plex app on the stick or it would just transcode everything, even if it didn’t need it and the laptop the media server is running on wasn’t up to transcoding on the fly

Did you see my mention of the "new settings" to get direct play without using FORCE?
Brought to you from someplace in Texas!
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ming666
Level 7

Re: Streaming from plex sever buffering issues

Yes, but I don’t want anything to transcode and forcing direct is doing the same thing anyway.
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PSUHammer
Level 7

Re: Streaming from plex sever buffering issues

Smokingdog, thanks for the lengthy writeup with your research.

I am having a similar yet slightly different issue.  I currently have a TCL Roku TV 6 series.  My Plex server is on my local LAN and is pretty beefy.  I just started moving UHD movies from disk to MKV containers on my Plex server to stream them easily.  I am creating these with uncompressed video/audio files.  Trying to stream these to the TCL has shown limitations on throughput to the TV.  I was using the Ethernet port but some of these UHD films will top 100 Mbps and cause buffering and disconnects from the Plex server.

I decided to look at wireless as I have a Netgear Orbi system that is more than capable of topping 100Mbps.  Using my phone (Galaxy S8+) and standing next to the TV, I was able to connect to the 5GHz band on my network and clock throughput of 270Mbps.  So, no problem, right?  Wrong!!!   I moved the Orbi base router right next to the TV and connected to the SSID (I did not split them at this point) and I found performance to be worse than Ethernet 10/100.  Opening the Roku secret wireless screen shows that I do not have a reception issue.  Signal Strength is in the high 30s with all green bars.

I then tried splitting the 2.4GHz and 5GHz SSIDs per recommendations on the Netgear forums.  I did this with the understanding that 802.11ac is only achievable via 5GHz band connections.  The Roku TV was defaulting to 2.4GHz based off the channel it was connecting to and from looking at Orbi portal.  Once I split the SSIDs and manually connected to the 5GHz band on the set, I verified that reception was still strong in the secret wireless screen and crossed my fingers.

Here is where it gets weird.  I started UHD version of Infinity War and watched the streaming throughput on the Plex Server.  The movie immediately buffered and stopped with a max rate of around 48 Mbps.  This is obviously awful throughput.

With no other way to test the TV, I am at a loss.  Is this Roku?  Netgear?  Or is it an issue with Plex?  I am pulling my hair out.
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hanst
Level 7

Re: Streaming from plex sever buffering issues

For what it's worth: My TCL Roku TVs (a series 4 and series 6) frequently could not stream many of my .mp4 videos -- stopping at "33%" before even beginning playback, and then quitting.  Both through Plex and via Roku media server.  Logs evidenced client disconnects.

(Same videos played fine via Plex web viewer.)  (My Plex server is on a Synology Diskstation.)

It turns out the problem was perhaps too much network throughput:  I believe the Roku TV could not keep up. 
Ways to cap the playback speed for individual videos:
1. In plex, "optimize" the video to slow down playback speed.  However you might need to manually choose the new version of the video each time you play it.  Smiley Sad
2. For batch processing, ffmpeg can cap playback speed with a command like
      ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v copy -c:a copy -movflags faststart -maxrate 2M -bufsize 2M output.mp4
...and then destroy the input.mp4 so Plex won't find it.
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