Roku Device Features, Settings & Updates

Help configuring Roku device settings, using Roku OS features such as screen mirroring, adjusting display type and audio settings, using Guest Mode, and assistance with software updates.
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Ronmio
Level 7

Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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There was an old, locked topic that touched on this but it isn't quite accurate or complete.  And a search using any of the terms in this topic's title comes up dry.  So I'm posting this new one topic in the hope that people will be able to find this helpful tip.

The Mbps required for uninterrupted streaming is dependent on the quality of the program.  One component of this is the bit rate.  There is a hidden Bit-Rate Override menu that allows you to change your Roku's bit rate from Automatic (stream at the highest possible quality) to a specific rate.  You can select from one of the following streaming speeds (Mbps) (which changes your Roku to a corresponding bit rate):  3.5, 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, 1.5, 1.2, 1.0, 0.6, and 0.3.

If you don't have a high-speed Internet connection, you may want to change from Automatic to a lower speed that is more compatible with your network.  By selecting a lower speed, you can reduce – or even eliminate –  the program interruptions that occur each time the buffer needs to be replenished.

To get to the hidden Bit-Rate Override menu, you need to enter the following key sequence on your Roku remote: 

    • press Home 5 times, then

 

    • press Rev Scan (<<) 3 times, and then

 

  • press Fwd Scan (>>) 2 times. 

On the screen that comes up, you can limit the speed (program quality) at which Roku will try to stream programs. 

You might find that, even at one of the lower speeds, the quality difference could be minimal but the buffering interruptions will be much more tolerable or completely eliminated.

At the bottom of Bit-Rate Override menu there is also an Enable Playback Debugging option.  The Enable Playback Debugging option which will display download information each time a program is streamed.  An example of the message displayed is "Playing 2.0 mbps stream on your 2.6 mbps network."  From this debugging window you can learn a lot about the programs you are trying to stream as well as the speed of your connection ... especially the connection side of the equation.  You will probably find that your network's mbps can vary widely and this will give you a clue as to what bit-rate (Mbps) setting should give you a tolerable number of interruptions.  Once you think you've determined a suitable speed, you can return to the menu and select a speed to try for a while.

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Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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I find the best solution is to have a router which can be used to set the max Mb/s for each device connected to it.  On my router it is called traffic manager.  I have the Roku set to 3.5 Mb/s, which allows for 720p content.  In order to find out which device was the roku, I shut the roku off, and checked the list of clients on my router.  I then turned the roku on, and saw which client was new.  Renamed it to roku on my router, and set the data cap. 

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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Thanks for the notes here. There are many factors that can contribute to buffering behavior while streaming. Available bandwidth from your ISP, your wireless network connection quality, the specific channel/service's content delivery systems or servers, peak usage times, etc. 

In general, we'd recommend starting here: https://support.roku.com/article/213122277-tips-for-improving-the-wireless-connection-to-your-roku-s...

Changing the wireless broadcast channel on your wireless router can often help improve your wireless connection and device performance by reducing wireless interference from nearby networks that may be using the same wireless broadcast channel. Channels 1, 6, and 11 are the most commonly selected by default. Contact your ISP or wireless router manufacturer for more help making this type of adjustment. 

Also, former internal development options that may have been available in 'secret screens' are not functions that have ever been supported by use for consumers, and were purely for developmental purposes. The bitrate option you're referring to did not apply to all channels or use-cases, and was intended as a diagnostic tool for very specific use cases. If you are looking to limit streaming quality, this would either need to be in done in any specific channel or service's own settings, such as Netflix offers, or on your router by limiting the amount of bandwidth that is supplied to your Roku device. Your ISP or wireless router manufacturer would need to assist you in making these types of adjustments. 

 

Thanks,

Tanner

Tanner D.
Roku Community Manager

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38 Replies
T_J
Level 7

Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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I have slow DSL $68/month no data cap (DSL + required landline I don't use), 1.27 Mbps), SD Netflix, Sling TV orange, Roku 4210R, Premiere Plus, and N1000. Ethernet only.

For the two newer Rokus, I leave Roku on Auto for SD Netflix subscription, picture looks great on my 2016 40" Sony.

For Sling TV orange, I leave Roku on Auto, and use the Sling TV - settings / connection / Max Bandwidth allowed (no limit, 2.8, 1.2, 0.8 ), 1.2 Mb/s setting works great for me. ESPN has had a big improvement from 6-months ago. Bassmaster LIVE on Watch ESPN this morning looked great with my slow DSL (3-hr live stream from bass boats on Toledo Bend Reservoir and from guys in their Little Rock office). I had free HBO one weekend and free Starz (?) another weekend, picture quality was great with my slow DSL with Sling TV max bandwidth set to 1.2. By default, Sling TV is set to 'no limit' which will cause problems for slow Mbps people. ESPN baseball and basketball picture quality is greatly improved from 6-months ago (for slow DSL people).
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RokuMarkn
Level 7

Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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It should be noted that the bit rate override screen does nothing for adaptive streams, such as the ones used by Netflix and Amazon.  And for non-adaptive streams, it normally doesn't matter if you set the bit rate override because the system will automatically play only streams that are below your measured network bandwidth.  There may be a few situations where the bit rate override improves buffering, but they shouldn't be common.  The screen is a debugging tool and was never intended for general purpose use.

--Mark
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Ronmio
Level 7

Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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That's true; it doesn't help for channels like Netflix and Amazon.  However, many private channels don't adapt and that's where you encounter a lot of buffering.  Those are the channels where changing the bit rate helps.  So, if you see that a channel is frequently interrupting the program to buffer, you will want to play with the target Mbps (bit rate).
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dfgsrzwer
Level 8

Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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I thibk what Mark means (and he should know, being a Roku employee and engineer), is that any improvement you see will be minor, rare, or coincidental.
Charter Spectrum 60; d-link dual band router
Roku 4210, 3710; Xbox One, 360; Samsung BD player
Samsung tablet; Windows Vista laptop; LG phone
Toshiba DVD-R; Sony AVR; Panasonic AR
1080p and 720p TVs
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RokuMarkn
Level 7

Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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(In fact, I implemented the bitrate override screen and the underlying functionality.)
If the channel provides multiple nonadaptive streams at different bitrates, the firmware should pick a stream that matches your network bandwidth.  If the channel only provides streams that are faster than your network, then changing the target bitrate isn't going to help anyway, since there's no stream that you can play.  The only time it will help is when your network bandwidth fluctuates significantly, so that the firmware doesn't have a good idea of your actual bandwidth at the time you start the stream.

--Mark
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Bitty1020
Level 8

Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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Ok i have changed my settings and i have even changed my screen resolution from 16:9 widescreen to 4:3 resolution or whatever thats called bc i have a oldschool tv n im talking this 42 in has the big bulky back and true glass on the screen n two ppl are needed to move it lol so hd settings make no differnce in picture. My friend allows me to use her wifi for my roku as long as i pay 20 on the bill and whatever i go o er on the data usage bc shes nvr home and truely doesnt use her internet. So i found i could change the bitrates bc i was paying 60.00 in overages every month which is ok but i have 4 kids and want to save some money my roku was set on the auto (im guessing that means around 1.5 bites or whatever u call it) and i chose to go all the way down to the 0.3 biterate option and now i barely have any buffering on movies or shows. Am i actually using less data or more my netflix setting is also on the lowest biterate settin n resolution i could find. Also as to whether or not im using more data now, about how many gbs am i using for a 16 hr day all day unless i leave and unplug my roku? Also as you can see im not a complete techi, if a computer or something crashes i can usually fix it through trial and error rather than knowing all of the language that comes with being a true techi lol
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SalKa
Level 7

Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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Hi,

I am having the same problem with intermittent streaming.  The picture and sound keep on going away, as if Roku 4 is turned off then they come back many times ever show I watch.  Some other times a stream goes on without a hitch but other times the trouble comes and goes.

Could this be because of the hdmi not sitting well in Roku, in addition to the bitrate.  I will try to change the bitrate and see what happens.

Any thoughts?
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Bitty1020
Level 8

Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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Im jusy now trying to understand all of this. Now i dont mess around with alot of the secrect menu settings on my roku, bc im not familiar with the terminology and thats probably alot of why i am confused. But i do know that since i have the oldschool tv i dont need to use anything close to that 1080p or even the one in the 700's but where she doesnt live right next door cranking my roku bitrate setting down to the 0.3mbps actually helped with the lag and buffering problems although i still have some just not as much and the quality of the piture didnt change one bit. Im more concerned with going over the data cap, and wondering if all my bit rate settings on roku and the apps that allow me to change the bit rate settings to the lowest either 460p or 0.3mbps if thats actually helping me save data. The first 2 months i had my roku express+ i cranked her bill up 40.00 each month bc i didnt realize how much data streaming actually used. And considering most companies have a 10.00 for ever 50mbs used i was at at crazy 200mbs overage plus the data that came with her plan. Anyways i think thats the right data thing. Im more into gbs than speed i think she has a "limit" of like 150gbs ofdata maybe 200gbs (plz feel free to correct me if im using the wrong terminology between the wireless speeds and data amounts because i do know that the faster the speed is the more data you eat up). So when i started researchin on how to calculate my data usage and how i can lower my data usage for my roku, i didnt find much bc i dont use anything else on her wifi except my roku, and it streams at most 16 hours per day bc at least one of 4 of my children are watching tv at all times and all the internet calculators in the world didnt help and neither did the speed tests bc i no longer run at hd speeds and most are either so high tech o had no vlue what to do or pretty much just an estimate using hd only or no way of putting in what speed you set your streamin device to. Although for some reason my streaming experience has improved by changing my bitrate settings i still want to know if i stream movies at the lowest posiible settings for roku and on netflix how much data will i be using in a month if im streaming videos and shows at 0.3mbps 16 hours per day? I also unplug roku now when i go to bed or leave the house save a lil more data but not much.


But as for you changing your bitrate to help with the buffering could possibly help bc your actual internet speed may not be running that fast. If you are changing your bitrate more for preventing what you are experiencing but you still want the HD experience try using the 1080p or even 740p (might be 760p) either way will help on saving data rather than the 4k because of the lower bit rates they are using. But like i said the first 2 months i had no clue what all this was until i started googling and found that you actually need to google ROKU SECRET MENUS/SCREENS. Or you could google how to save bandwidth when using roku.

But if u can find out exactly how much data im using in a month with 16 hour days and my streaming device is streaming at a 0.3mbps that would be amazing for me.
CV27
Level 7

Re: Reducing buffering by changing your Roku's bitrate

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"RokuMarkn" wrote:
(In fact, I implemented the bitrate override screen and the underlying functionality.)
If the channel provides multiple nonadaptive streams at different bitrates, the firmware should pick a stream that matches your network bandwidth.  If the channel only provides streams that are faster than your network, then changing the target bitrate isn't going to help anyway, since there's no stream that you can play.  The only time it will help is when your network bandwidth fluctuates significantly, so that the firmware doesn't have a good idea of your actual bandwidth at the time you start the stream.

--Mark

The bitrate override screen doesn't appear to work on the Premiere+.  Can you please confirm?
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