Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby Gilgamesh » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:29 pm

What happens on devices other than Roku means NOTHING as far as Roku's ability to stream from Netflix. Different devices probably use different streams from potentially wildly different locations.

Most probably there is something slowing down your connection the the CDN (Content delivery Network) that Netflix is using to your location.

If the connection to Netflix was generally overloaded then there would be a LOT more posts here as has happened in the past when Netflix had service issues. The simplest answer is that there is something in your setup or your route to Netflix that is the problem and in the vast majority of cases the simplest answer is the one that is true.
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby trekkeriii » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:36 pm

popicon wrote:I started experiencing this problem around the same time this has posted. I am in San Antonio, TX with a Roku 2 XD hardwired to a Buffalo router connected by ethernet to the cable router in the other room. Only Netflix causes me issues., which is a problem since it makes up the majority of our viewing. There is a time component (almost always in the evenings between 7-10 PM central) and Netflix on Roku is virtually unwatchable on Saturday evenings, now. Two dots, if we're lucky, but it's getting worse where it will drop to a single dot and then sit there. It seems to be a Roku issue, and nothing to do with anything I can change on my end.

DNS has been changed and everything is optimized. This is not a Netflix problem. Netflix works great from every PC and Macbook I have in the house, even over wifi, except on the Roku. It's not a bandwidth problem. The good news is my network is screaming fast, and I can pull 8+ Mbps from anywhere in the lower 48, on average, even on Saturday nights, and a solid 6 Mbps average from Anchorage, AK (FWIW). IAll of the other Roku channels work without issue, even when Netflix on the Roku is. I'm 99.9999999 convinced this has nothing to do with me.

It's time to turn the tables. I think the Roku Netflix service is overloaded. Can anyone prove me wrong? I love the Roku, and am a promoter to my friends, coworkers, and family. But should this good thing come to an end? Who can I go to at Roku to do more advanced troubleshooting, from their end?


Roku doesn't control the Netflix Streams at all. In fact Roku hasn't done firmware changes for older generation models in a while. The Macbook and PC use totally different streams from Netflix than the Roku does, but Netflix is the one that controls those streams regardless of the device. The fact you are getting problems during peek times means that there is saturation someplace, just have to figure out where, could be beyond your control.
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby SteveRem » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:06 pm

Hi there,

I've recently run into the same problem and am hoping that a fix is discovered. I moved from Comast to Charter ISP and now when attempting to stream netflix it only streams at 0.5 or 1.0mbps (I've enabled debugging). (hardware is: Roku XD/S, AirportExpress router, and Cisco DPC3008 and a DPC3010) When I stream any other channel, it comes through at 2.5+ in HD with no problems. I've tested my internet connection speed (20mbps+), I've reset all devices, I've tried with the roku hardwired, I've gone through the troubleshooting with Charter, Netflix and Roku technical assistants (for what it's worth, they each keep pointing the fingers at one of the other two). I've removed and reinstalled the netflix channel. I've had the roku check for software updates, and I've checked that the modem and router have up to date firmware. I've tried every wireless channel, I've tried open DNS and Google DNS, I've set my netflix account to high quality, I've tried setting the roku to stream only at 3.5 (then netflix doesn't even load the video, just shows "retrieving for 20+min). I've factory reset each device (roku, AirportExpress, modem), I've had Charter reprovision the modem, I've tried a different modem. I've tried reloacting the modem and the router to different areas of the room and into different rooms. Still nothing.... netflix at 0.5mbps, yet Amazon, CNN, Hulu all stream at HD speeds (2.5mbps+).
If anyone has any other suggestions or has found a solution, I'm open to ideas. (If roku had an antenna I'd even go old school and attempt wearing tin foil on my head and holding the antenna out the window)

Thanks!
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby Gilgamesh » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:32 pm

Sounds like your system is choosing a less than optimum DNS server. Try changing it in your router.

Some DNS servers to try:
Google DNS ( 8.8.8.8 )
Google DNS secondary ( 8.8.4.4 )
OpenDNS ( 208.67.222.222 )
Open DNS secondary ( 208.67.220.220 )
Level3 DNS ( 4.2.2.2 )

You only need to change the first entry as Roku only uses that one.
If there is a box that says something like: "Get DNS from ISP" be sure it is not checked.
Make a note of what your current setting is so you can change it back if needed.
Also you can try NameBench to find some good DNS servers but any server returned must be tested for a time as Namebench only tests response time and not actual performance.
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby popicon » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:38 pm

trekkeriii wrote:
popicon wrote:I started experiencing this problem around the same time this has posted. I am in San Antonio, TX with a Roku 2 XD hardwired to a Buffalo router connected by ethernet to the cable router in the other room. Only Netflix causes me issues., which is a problem since it makes up the majority of our viewing. There is a time component (almost always in the evenings between 7-10 PM central) and Netflix on Roku is virtually unwatchable on Saturday evenings, now. Two dots, if we're lucky, but it's getting worse where it will drop to a single dot and then sit there. It seems to be a Roku issue, and nothing to do with anything I can change on my end.

DNS has been changed and everything is optimized. This is not a Netflix problem. Netflix works great from every PC and Macbook I have in the house, even over wifi, except on the Roku. It's not a bandwidth problem. The good news is my network is screaming fast, and I can pull 8+ Mbps from anywhere in the lower 48, on average, even on Saturday nights, and a solid 6 Mbps average from Anchorage, AK (FWIW). IAll of the other Roku channels work without issue, even when Netflix on the Roku is. I'm 99.9999999 convinced this has nothing to do with me.

It's time to turn the tables. I think the Roku Netflix service is overloaded. Can anyone prove me wrong? I love the Roku, and am a promoter to my friends, coworkers, and family. But should this good thing come to an end? Who can I go to at Roku to do more advanced troubleshooting, from their end?


Roku doesn't control the Netflix Streams at all. In fact Roku hasn't done firmware changes for older generation models in a while. The Macbook and PC use totally different streams from Netflix than the Roku does, but Netflix is the one that controls those streams regardless of the device. The fact you are getting problems during peek times means that there is saturation someplace, just have to figure out where, could be beyond your control.


Are you not experiencing this problem? I posted my city because I wonder if it's geographical in nature. Ultimately, the Roku is in control. There are no decent diagnostics, on the device itself, and Roku and Netflix point the finger at each other. This is helping neither of them, and fast. Spending the time to do packet sniffing on the network has about the same appeal as mowing my neighbors' lawns. According to a guy trying to hack a Roku on an .edu site, when you first connect the Roku device, it looks for Netflix. Then, after you authenticate with Netflix and you play a movie, it gives a url to a cdn. This is where I think the problem occurs. How does Roku determine which CDN to send you to? There have been some theories around this being defined by DNS, but if everyone uses Google DNS, doesn't that cause the same problem? How do you know the Roku process is different than the website? This process I can look at, and, after authentication, the web app calls the API, and it picks a CDN. How is that any different? Playback session(s) on devices are almost identical for browser-based sessions. The service uses HTTP and HTTPS session protocols (SSL-443) to netflix's CDN (https://moviecontrol.netflix.com) Netflix has only one API (http://developer.netflix.com/docs/REST_API_Conventions) Thus, the determining factor must be what information is passed through the Roku to the session, versus the website, and thus, the source of the problem, if not a sheer mystery at this point.

I know how to troubleshoot. I'm just not sure where to begin on a proprietary system with no real interface. There is an authentication process from the Roku to Netflix, and a CDN determination; I just don't know how frequently it occurs or how. The notion that it is not the Roku at the core is a bit dismissive without substantive backing. So, if you have some more Roku knowledge, please share!
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby SteveRem » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:46 pm

Yup, as mentioned I tried open and google DNSs and no change. I've tried all the others listed and still not improvement with netflix streaming speed. (Another round of talking with netflix tech support and they are still saying it must either be the ISP or Roku.) However, all other channels stream fine with HD quality speeds. :x
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby reddice » Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:02 pm

Many people forget that only OpenDNS has a third and forth address.
208.67.222.220
208.67.220.222
Since not many people use it should be faster.
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby popicon » Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:33 am

For the record, I wholly appreciate the assistance provided by this forum. For the last 3 months, I have been using the insistence of this forum to test every theory provided here, with no luck, all the while the problem gets worse.

From a DNS perspective, my Buffalo router, to which the Roku is wired, is in a DMZ from the ISP-provided router, and the Roku could only see the DNS provided by the Buffalo. I have tried every public DNS under the sun, including, but not limited to, all OpenDNS, Level 3, Google, Rackspace, and even used a friend's private DNS server -- just for fun. None of this changed anything for the behavior of the Netflix channel on the Roku, when the problem is occurring. I have run multiple DNS diagnostic tools, and now have blazing fast DNS on my home network. It's really quite nice for browsing, now, but Netflix is still a problem on the Roku.

This problem has a noticeable decline. It started end of May or early June and is getting progressively worse, and my tolerance is declining as well. If this were a DNS a problem, I could effectively change the DNS to something I know that sucks, and be able to see some difference, when the performance is good to make it bad. DNS has no significant effect on the Roku. Why? Because this is not a DNS problem -- it is clear it has to do with how Roku interfaces with the API. We need some fresh answers.

Netflix has only one API. They use it and share that API with other vendors. The question is, why is only the Roku affected?
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby reddice » Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:14 am

I agree which is why I am selling my Roku 3. Performance during peak hours is not great. DNS really did not make a difference. The Roku 3 Netflix channel has a small less than two minute buffer which means it drops quality because it can't keep up.

I even changed the DNS back to OpenDNS from Google DNS on my PS3 and now I think it is faster with OpenDNS again but it really is just a placibo effect. I think it ramps up faster but it really does not make any difference.
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby popicon » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:38 pm

Contacted Roku today and going to second base with their support. The optimist in me is hoping something comes out of it.
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby mikebdoss » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:48 pm

DNS isn't a magic bullet. It CAN change the route you take to a given CDN server, but it won't necessarily (ideally, if DNS is doing its job well, it'll always start with the "best" path).

The fact that a lot of people are only seeing this problem at peek times shows that this is very unlikely to be a Roku problem (especially since plenty of Roku users DON'T see slowdown/quality problems, even when the networks are busy). Combine that with the fact that you see identical reports on every product that streams Netflix, and you can get an idea of where this is going: The issue is with Netflix and their delivery network, or with a slow link between you and them.
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby fugee » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:19 pm

I'm not adding anything new here but just wanted to add more fuel to this fire in case someone from Roku is reading through this topic.

I started experiencing this same issue late July. I have a 20MB down and 10MB up connection from my ISP and have my Roku XD on a wired connected. I've tried everything suggested here, changing my DNS etc. I even suspected my ISP was throttling me, they said they don't, i tested by cloning my MAC address and found no issue. I can watch Netflix at a decent quality on my PC but from my Roku it's usually 2 dots. I set the device to debugging, while loading a movie Roku says my speed is 1MB and sometimes even 0.5MB!! The speeds on Amazon were somewhat better at over 2.5MB, which at least gave me 4 dots on Amazon. When i plug in my laptop and run speedtests over and over again i get a consistent ~20MB connection. Despite this Netflix still blames my ISP, however i do believe the issue is with Roku.

I thought my device was slowly dying but from what i've seen others are experiencing the same issue so I'll be contacting Roku support to at least lodge a complaint. If they can't fix whatever issue this is, then i'll have to find another way to watch Netflix on my TV. Such a pity i really love using my Roku :(
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby trekkeriii » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:06 pm

I am starting to wonder if Netflix is decommissioning their older streaming servers or made some changes to them. More and more people are complaining about the streaming quality being not so good on Generation 1 Roku. Wonder if anyone on other devices that use the same servers are having issues. I am guessing this is a regional problem, areas with higher populations have the issue. Roku as a company has no servers controlling these Netflix streams, Roku just provides the platform, Netflix controls the Channel and the servers you get the streams from.
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby joshhighley » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:32 pm

popicon wrote:I started experiencing this problem around the same time this has posted. I am in San Antonio, TX with a Roku 2 XD hardwired to a Buffalo router connected by ethernet to the cable router in the other room. Only Netflix causes me issues., which is a problem since it makes up the majority of our viewing. There is a time component (almost always in the evenings between 7-10 PM central) and Netflix on Roku is virtually unwatchable on Saturday evenings, now. Two dots, if we're lucky, but it's getting worse where it will drop to a single dot and then sit there. It seems to be a Roku issue, and nothing to do with anything I can change on my end.

DNS has been changed and everything is optimized. This is not a Netflix problem. Netflix works great from every PC and Macbook I have in the house, even over wifi, except on the Roku. It's not a bandwidth problem. The good news is my network is screaming fast, and I can pull 8+ Mbps from anywhere in the lower 48, on average, even on Saturday nights, and a solid 6 Mbps average from Anchorage, AK (FWIW). IAll of the other Roku channels work without issue, even when Netflix on the Roku is. I'm 99.9999999 convinced this has nothing to do with me.

It's time to turn the tables. I think the Roku Netflix service is overloaded. Can anyone prove me wrong? I love the Roku, and am a promoter to my friends, coworkers, and family. But should this good thing come to an end? Who can I go to at Roku to do more advanced troubleshooting, from their end?


I've been having these same issues and symptoms for the past couple of months -- worse lately. I'm in the Kansas City, MO area.

I have an original Roku N1000, with excellent wireless signal to an Asus RT-N66U, and 18M Uverse service. Speedtest.net results have always been good. Amazon Instant Video has been good. Netflix is nearing unwatchable in the evenings/nights. It's even been problematic during the day recently.

Before I moved a month ago, I was also having issues. I was wired between Roku and router, but still had 18M Uverse, and still had speed & quality issues with Netflix.

Lately, I can't maintain more than 0.7M - 1.1M network speed. It will sometime start faster, but then drop after a few minutes. Switching to Amazon Instant Video at the same time will have 4.2M - 5.6M speeds and _not_ drop quality during. Before getting Amazon Instant Video, I thought it was my ISP and their initial "speed boost". I don't think that's it, now, though.

I've tried changing DNS, rebooting the Roku...no improvement. Netflix _really_ needs to develop some tools or provide IPs for traceroutes so that these issues can be diagnosed and resolved.

Roku and/or Netflix need to get a handle on this issue.
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Re: Roku XD: Netflix quality / slow problems

Postby popicon » Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:03 am

Spoke with Level 2 at Roku, here are the theories and suggestions:

1. Trying to understand Netflix CDN, but it's shrouded in mystery. My guess is Netflix rolling out their new CDN, which uses the new adaptive streaming technology, is not friendly to older devices. The issue seems to be affecting 2100X and older devices running 3.1 at a much higher rate. The 2100X is the cut-off for Roku's newer features, including but not limited to upgrades for adaptive streaming capabilities. In discussing the issue at work, people with older streaming devices (blueray, xbox, etc) have also started having issue over the last 3 months streaming from Netflix. The engineer said he had not heard this CDN theory, but it was a possibility. When I asked if all devices left on 3.1 are end-of-support, he said no, but recommended upgrade to a new Roku unit.

2. MTU on my router should be less than 1500 and evenly divisible by 8. This was a new one for me, but apparently the Roku likes to be chatty. MTU defines the packet size the network uses. MTU theory, as it goes, says there is some efficiency gained by larger packets, but the negative is that, if there is some interference or other error-generating component somewhere in the network, the larger packet frames will amplify the problem. Default on nearly all routers is 1500, which is not evenly divisible by 8, which again the Roku apparently prefers. I started with an MTU of 1360 on the router and noticed degradation in performance of the PC and other devices, with no noticeable effect on the Roku performance. Eventually, I got to 1440 [1440/8=180] and the Roku seemed much happier. I tried 1448 and 1456, but 1440 seemed to work best for my network and the other devices. By 10PM central, HD was still elusive on Netflix, but 4 dots was sustainable. A major improvement for Netflix! We'll see how it works over the weekend.

3. Since Netflix web interface over my PC seems to work without issue, I'm looking to see if I can work this into my Plex media server, somehow. Stay tuned.

4. The engineer couldn't leave the conversation without having a DNS conversation with me. I get it, DNS is important for CDN. When I explained everything I had done, I asked if he thought I could do something else, and he had no other ideas. So, my suggestion to the engineer was that, if Roku is that sensitive to DNS, why not make a settings option on the Roku itself, that allows DNS settings? By default, it would grab DNS from the router, as it does today. But it seems totally simple to add a primary, secondary, tertiary field for DNS directly on the Roku so it doesn't waste extra cycles looking for DNS servers and may eliminate the need for gateways and extra routers in situations where DNS can't be changed. *COUGH*U-verse that's you*COUGH* All it has to do is grab and go, right there on the little box. He said he would send this to the developers.

If you like what you see in #4, let Roku know!
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