Why Apple TV keeps freezing or buffering constantly

As a subscriber, paying for Apple TV content is one thing –you’ll still need a good internet connection, or videos will keep buffering or freezing.

As dreadful as the experience can be on Apple TV, the real problem behind content freezing and buffering constantly in most cases is your internet connection.

But if the issue occurs solely on Apple TV and not on other streaming devices, then you have to troubleshoot Apple TV through the methods below.

Why Apple TV freezes or buffers constantly

From our research into this issue, we found that the problem can range from a particular video failing to load to the content freezing intermittently while watching.   The issues occur because:

  • You have a slow network connection
  • You do not have enough bandwidth to stream the content
  • An app on the device is not working or consuming too much memory
  • The device software is out-of-date

Ways to fix the buffering or freezing issue on Apple TV

Fix a freezing and buffering Apple TV through these methods:

1. Restart Apple TV

TV power button

Restarting your device is the simplest solution for fixing freezing and buffering issues. To restart Apple TV:

  • Go to Settings
  • Select System (Apple 4K TV or Apple TV HD) or General (Apple TV 3rd generation or earlier)
  • Select Restart

If you cannot restart by going to system settings because of freezing, power cycle the device by unplugging it from the power source, wait for 30 seconds and then plug it back in.

You can also use your Apple TV Remote or Siri Remote. Hold down the Home or Apple TV app button and Menu buttons. Next, let go of both buttons once you see a flashing light on the device.

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For the aluminum or white Apple remote, hold down the Down and Menu buttons and then let go immediately you see a flashing light.

If you don’t have a remote, here’s a guide for resetting Apple TV without a remote.

2. Hard reset your Apple TV

A hard reset will erase your device’s memory, restore it to factory settings, and remove any information you added to it.

This is recommended if your Apple TV is frozen on the home screen, especially when a simple restart does not fix the problem.

  • Go to Settings > System/General > Reset
  • After tapping on Reset, choose an option – Reset or Reset and Update (Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD) or Reset All Settings or Restore (Apple TV 3rd generation)
  • Choose Reset to return the device to factory settings without connecting to the internet
  • Select Reset and Update to return the device to factory settings and install the software updates
  • For 3rd generation devices, choose Reset All Settings to reset your settings, including configurations and accounts. Or, select Restore to return the device to factory settings and install the software updates

Throughout this process, ensure you have plugged the device into its power source. If the progress bar appears paused or stuck on the update, do not unplug or restart your Apple TV.

Give it time to finish the update. But if it continues for several hours, contact Apple Support.

3. Check your internet connection

If you are facing a problem with constant buffering, you need to troubleshoot your internet connection to find a fix.

  • If you are using a cellular connection, connect your device to a Wi-Fi network, and then try again.
  • If you have a router, ensure it is compatible with the 802.11a/g/n/ac network standards.
  • Run a speed test to ensure that you are streaming at 8mpbs or higher for HD content, 6mbps for 720p, and 2.5mbps for standard definition. For 4K, you need 25mbps.
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You can also monitor your bandwidth speed and consumption. When many devices use the same network for activities like streaming and gaming, it can slow down the internet speed.

If other people are downloading content on the same network, ask them to stop temporarily, and see whether it fixes the problem.

If it does, you need to increase your bandwidth. If this doesn’t work, consider getting a good router for streaming.

4. Turn Home Sharing OFF, then ON

Whenever you have Apple TV stuck on the home-sharing screen, the simplest solution is to turn OFF and ON home-sharing.

  • Launch iTunes
  • Go to the File section
  • Select Home Sharing
  • Turn the option OFF then ON
  • Sign in using your Apple ID account

The steps should fix the problem.

5. Switch to a different screen mode

Samsung HDMI cable

If your Apple TV shows a white screen, switch it to a different screen mode. To do this:

  • Unplug the HDMI cable from both ends and then plug them back again.
  • Turn off the TV and power cycle your device.
  • Go to the TV menu and select an HDMI input that matches the HDMI port connected to your Apple TV.

Whenever you perform each of the above steps, check whether it fixes the white screen. If it does not, contact Apple Support.

6. Switch from Wi-Fi to Ethernet

Router and ethernet cable

This method applies to those who have currently connected their Apple TVs to their routers through Wi-Fi.

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A poor Wi-Fi connection or one that uses the old standards will often lead to an unstable connection. This often causes Apple TV to buffer randomly.

A quick fix is to connect your Apple TV to your router using an Ethernet cable. Choose an RJ45 cable with high bandwidth and high-speed data transfer. You can easily get one with up to 40,000 Mbps and 2000 MHz speeds for about $10.

If you don’t have a specific cable in mind, we recommend Cat 8 cables from either Orbram or Ugreen.

7. Switch to a different HDMI Cable

Apple TV HDMI
Connecting an HDMI and Power cable to an Apple TV box. Image: Apple

An HDMI cable transfers data, both video and sound, from the Apple TV box to your TV screen.

If it isn’t working properly, you will not only notice an image lag but sometimes the video and sound may not match.

Try switching to a different HDMI cable or using the same cable to connect to another device other than your Apple TV box. If it works, then the cable isn’t the source of the problem.

However, if you notice a lag or a black screen, consider replacing the HDMI cable. Consider the iVanky High-Speed HDMI cable when shopping for a new one.

If your Apple TV keeps buffering or freezing, the easiest fix is to restart the device. You can also check your internet connection to ensure you have enough bandwidth.

For cases where you see a white screen or the device gets locked up, power cycle it or switch to a different screen mode. But if everything does not work, contact Apple Support.

15 thoughts on “Why Apple TV keeps freezing or buffering constantly”

  1. Apple TV is great when it works but more often than not, I get buffering all the time. Extremely frustrating and I’ve tried switching everything on and off a few hundred times. Spark internet supplier claim we have high speed fibre optic and have recently put the price up! Like many, I don’t know all this technical jargon such as bandwidth and different types of cable. Countries should have some sort of standards to protect the consumer.

    Reply
  2. When trying to watch a movie, my Apple TV 4K would constantly buffer, play for 30 seconds and buffer again, repeatedly. I changed the HDMI cable to a 4K-8K, a known good cable. Made no difference. I ran an ethernet cable from the router to the Apple TV box and problem solved! The router was only 8ft away and is a new fibre optic router supplied by my ISP. So obviously a poor wifi router.

    Reply
  3. Watching Apple TV through our smart TV, and it’s hideous. Freezing, buffering, delays – all problems we don’t experience watching Netflix, Prime, Disney+, iPlayer….
    Just tested at 75.8Mbps (download) 20.4Mbps (upload).
    Not great, and shan’t watch anything else (trying to enjoy Severence).

    Reply
  4. We have the same issue, though our internet speed is 950/35mbps. I’ve uninstalled the app, reset my wifi multiple times with no change. We really want to watch it, but this glitch is just too aggravating. I’ve reported this to Apple TV+

    Reply
  5. I too have been noticing the problems for over 3 months. I have 1gig, good signal strength. I have 4 other boxes from my cable provider with no issue. I have swapped my fiber jumper and the company gave me a new router. I also did a factory reset on the Apple box and upgraded the code. Nothing has worked

    Reply
  6. Cancelled Netflix to go to Apple TV but first movie was a nightmare. Stopped to reload, problem kept repeating. Will try the suggestions but so far NOT A HAPPY CAMPER !

    Reply
  7. I have a 202.1Mbps download and 202.9 fibre line. I can run speed test all day long and see almost no change to the speed. I stream Netflix, Prime Video, Showmax, DSTV with almost 0 issues. The moment I rent a movie or watch a series on my Apple TV service it buffers like crazy, constant interruptions with pauses / freezing for 20 or so seconds. This only started now in the past month or so. What the heck happened ?

    Reply
  8. I just got it with Xfinity Flex. It freezes every couple of minutes while streaming. Bandwidth is not a problem, and it is the only app that does it. It’s very frustrating. I’ve tried all these fixes and have concluded it’s Apple Plus TV. It’s 3 months for free, so after that I won’t be continuing. Too bad. Some good shows there but I cannot abide the freezing.

    Reply
  9. Totally Agree with John. This house has the latest, best most up-to-date everything. Apple+ is the ONLY programming that does this.

    Ready to cancel the service.

    Reply
  10. This is not a bandwidth issue, too many people are complaining about the same thing. Apple TV worked just fine for years and then it started to stop and start. When it hangs up we have to wait about 30 seconds and it will start working again. We have everything wired up to ethernet and we have 100Mb/s. Every time I do a network speed test it shows above 100Mb/s.

    We’ve put up with this behavior for about 2 months with no response from Apple so we are going to take the Apple TV 4K out of the loop. When we are looking at a movie or a sport there is no issue. The “freezing happens” only during navigation” e.g., entering a password to access applications (It’s a nightmare).

    Reply
    • Did u ever find a fix to this. AppleTv is the only streaming channel that does this. I deleted the channel then loaded it again. Still an issue. My subscription ends in October so I will probably not renew.

      Reply
  11. I have 100Mb/s service and my Apple TV has been working just fine for a number of years. Suddenly, for the past few weeks if we are watching a recorded show or sports events and we fast forward, the Apple TV will stop on the timeline and we have to wait for about 15-20 seconds for it to catch up before we can fast forward again as if it has run out of buffer space internally. I tested the Wi-Fi and the Internet bandwidth and there is nothing wrong with our bandwidth. I have to wonder if Apple has updated the Apple TV software and introduced a bug. Right now I’m looking for my Roku to confirm that the problem is related to the Apple TV.

    Reply
    • I should add that my Apple TV software is the latest level (14.6 – 18L569)and no updates are available. Also, when I’m streaming a movie on my Mac mini the above problem does not occur.

      Apple TV (535) model is A1842.

      Reply

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