Apple TV freezes or buffers constantly? Why and the fix!

Apple TV offers a wide range of options when it comes to streaming media. While it works flawlessly for the most part, sometimes the experience can be dreadful. Apple TV can freeze when or lag frequently, making it almost impossible to watch your favorite shows.

In other cases, the media platform freezes while trying to change a channel using the remote. If your Apple TV is frozen, you need to find a way of restarting it because it does not have a restart button.

Freezing and buffering are two annoying events. Whenever your Apple TV freezes, you cannot control the device. And when buffering occurs, you cannot continue to watch a video since Apple TV fails to load content.

You can fix both of these problems in various ways. But first, what causes them?

Why Apple TV freezes or buffers constantly

The problems 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  • The device software is out-of-date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

Luckily, you fix freezing and buffering on Apple TV in various ways:

1. Restart your device

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
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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.

For 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
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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 802.11a/g/n/ac network standard.
  • 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.

You can also monitor your bandwidth speed and consumption. When many devices are using 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.

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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
Photo: Amazon

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.

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 that 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.

4 thoughts on “Apple TV freezes or buffers constantly? Why and the fix!”

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

    • 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.


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