We’ve all probably heard of buffering or seen the relentlessly spinning wheel when the network connection wasn’t good enough for streaming video data. But where does the term buffering come from, and what exactly happens when the video stops?
A buffer is a place where data that is loaded from the Internet is stored for a short time (generally in the computer’s memory = RAM). Video streaming usually works by loading the data in the form of small segments, which are played one after another. To make the stream as stable as possible, our video players often download a budget of these segments, so you don’t need to stream the segments in real-time. A part of the video is stored in advance so that the viewer can retrieve the data from the buffer. When your network connection gets stuck, the video won’t stop immediately. Instead, it has a little puffer in the form of the preloaded segments to bypass the time until the network connection is stable again.
Buffering describes the stopping of a video when there aren’t enough segments loaded. The network connection isn’t stable enough to provide you with more segments in relation to the time the video is playing. Then a typical sign often appears: A small rotating circle that resembles a wheel or a sun. This well-known buffering symbol occurs to tell you that your stream has just stopped, and there aren’t enough video segments loaded so far. When your connection gets better, the video continues, and you can see a small line, mostly in the under part of the player. There you can find your position in the video and often also the preloaded segments, represented through a small line.