How to troubleshoot Chromecast network problems

If your Chromecast experience is beset with stuttering, buffering or other connection issues, our handy guide will put you right.

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Google's Chromecast is the little streamer that could. It's a deceptively simple device that has proven to be the go-to dongle for streaming movies, TV, music and more, all in the comfort of your lounge room.

The new Ultra, released earlier this year, even adds support for streaming in 4K Ultra HD with HDR – something that will make a big difference for many homes.

If you want to watch something, you want it to work. Here are some simple fixes if you're having network issues with any one of the Chromecast family.

Reboot your modem and/or router

It's a cliché, but it's always surprising what you can solve with a simple power cycle. Switch it off, give it a second, switch it back on, wait a few minutes and try again. Make this your first port of call.

Change the Chromecast power source

The Chromecast may be tiny, but it still needs a steady supply of power to run properly. In an ideal world, you could just plug it into your TV's USB port but not all television USB ports are created equal. If your TV has a dedicated USB port for powering devices, make sure it's plugged in there. Better yet, use the wall socket adaptor that came with the Chromecast.

Move it, move it

Casting video to Chromecast takes a fair bit of bandwidth, so it's important that the Chromecast has a solid connection to your Wi-Fi network. The TV itself can be an impressive signal blocker, so use the HDMI extender cable that came with your Chromecast to adjust the position of the device.

You can also try it the other way around and shuffle that router so it's a bit closer to the TV to see if that makes a difference.

Boost it

Is your router in a completely different part of the house to the Chromecast? It might to time to grab a range extender. These are networking devices that grab your Wi-Fi signal and give it a boost, helping it make it to the other end of the house where it's needed.

Change bands

Most modern routers will let you use two network bands, 2.4GHz and 5GHz. While the very first Chromecast was 2.4GHz only, it's been 5-by-5 for a while, so make sure you're connecting to the 5GHz band. This helps avoid interference with other wireless devices and generally delivers a stronger and more reliable connection.

What else is eating your bandwidth?

Wirelessly transmitting video requires a decent chunk of dedicated bandwidth, and if other devices on your network are trying to send or receive data at the same time, that can lead to poor performance for the Chromecast. If possible, pause any downloads or other heavy Internet activities on your devices while using the Chromecast.

Quality of Service check

In your router's admin settings (and it'll be different for each one), you'll find a way of adjusting the Quality of Service or QoS. This is basically how your router chooses to prioritise bandwidth availability for different services. Make sure it's set to favour media streaming to ensure casting goes as smoothly as possible.

What about the cables?

The Chromecast Ultra has support for a wired Ethernet connection which can render all of these Wi-Fi issues completely moot. Still, you might have troubles with the Ethernet adaptor occasionally. To fix them, follow these directions:

  1. Reboot! Unplug the Chromecast Ultra from the power socket and leave it for one minute. Then try again.
  2. Unplug the Ethernet cable and leave it for a minute before trying again. This is basic stuff, but it's worth trying.
  3. Check that the other end of the Ethernet cable is in the right place. It should be plugged into an active port on your router.
  4. Check the connections. Give everything a jiggle around and make sure that it's all connected the way it's supposed to be. Loose cables can gum up anyone's day.

Still having troubles?

If none of the above steps have resolved your Chromecast issues, it might be time to consider throwing money at the problem. If you suspect your Chromecast itself has given up the ghost, take a look at our round-up of streaming hardware for other casting options. If your Wi-Fi router looks to be the source of your woes, check out our comparison of 26 top NBN routers for a worthwhile replacement option.

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