Attacking Those Pluralsight Buffer Problems

(Edit 26th July, 2015 — Added iPad Air 2 experience)
(Edit: 9th March, 2015 — Added iOS app update).

I’ve only recently signed up for Pluralsight and so far, I am a fan.

However, during the trial period I had lots of problems with buffering which at times made me want to open a dead-tree book! From searching the internet, it seems I wasn’t alone and like me, other people’s video streaming content and internet usage was fine during this. In my case, I then figured it was either connected to my browser (I used Chrome) or to do with Pluralsight’s website.

One other issue I had (as a result of the buffering) was that in trying to kickstart the videos into downloading better, I would re-click on a module. I figured they wouldn’t charge me twice (in terms of minutes) for something I have already viewed. Don’t do that! They will! They aren’t kidding when they say that you should just watch videos and leave the player alone, or it will eat up all of your 200 minutes. In my case, I managed to watch about 4/5 of the A Beginner’s Guide to the Microsoft Web Platform by Michael Palermo before suddenly it informed me I was not authorised to watch the content. That’s a shame because I had 3 hours and 20 minutes of trial and the series is about 1 hour and 40 minutes! What is even more frustrating is that it doesn’t tell you how many minutes are left, although I know that it is a requested feature by the community 🙁

Anyway…getting to the point 🙂

In an attempt to share my experience, this is what I have done to almost eradicate the buffering (touch plastic keyboard):

  1. Switch to Internet Explorer (yes, really!) — I have version 11.0.16.
  2. Change the playback settings to Silverlight and low quality.
Pluralsight Video Options

Settings to choose for playback.

You can always increase the quality as needed or until the dreaded buffering returns.

Still Not Working?

Drat! OK, there are two other things that I do that seem to make a difference.

The first is that I click on the bar along the top (just under the title of the course) and re-select the particular module I am working on. That can *sometimes* work.

If that fails, and I notice it might be because I have paused for a good while, then I refresh the whole page and THEN reload my module using the bar. It seems to forget where I am at times.

But I’m Using the iOS App!

This is a whole other story. When it works, it works really well, but I often find that it will suddenly stop on the transition between episodes. The way I recognise that I might have a problem is when it says buffering for more than a few seconds once an episode ends (note: I have a fast internet connection). In that situation, what I have found works for me is that I do the following:

  • Press the home button twice, quickly. That’s the round button that can be pressed, on the front (at least on my iPad 2 — don’t feel too bad for me!)
  • It will then show all the apps that are running. I find the Pluralsight one and swipe up, ending the program.
  • I then restart that app, go to what I have been watching and re-click on the next episode.

Using an iPad Air 2

This section has been added after a brief (1 day) experience of using my new iPad Air 2 tablet, instead of my old iPad 2 (which is somewhere warm and quiet, entering blissful retirement).

In short, so far, I am having no problems with buffering at all. I realise this is certainly not much of a test period, but I wanted to say something now in case it helps. So, if you are lucky enough to have more than one device, try that, especially if it is pretty new.

Please read the comments below, especially in response to Tony’s, as I do feel there is still more to this buffering problem than speedy processors. Add a reply if you think you have something to add.

Hope that helps someone.

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Written by Stephen Moon
email: stephen at logicalmoon.com
www: https://www.logicalmoon.com


9 thoughts on “Attacking Those Pluralsight Buffer Problems

  1. Usually, changing the option from Html5 to Silverlight when problems arise works for me. It’s still a huge inconvenience though…

    I am a little bit salty about the whole thing because (1) I pay a premium for their services and (2) this is a well-known problem by now, yet there is no sound fix. This is especially frustrating because (3) their player is the only player I experience problems with. YouTube, Vimeo, Channel9, even private players like JW Player work fine on my internet.

    Thank you, Steve, this is a good article, but I would much prefer a solution from Pluralsight themselves, you know?

    • I agree and I have only recently started paying them!

      For a while, the Silverlight fix worked but as I have clocked up the hours, I have needed to find other tweaks, as above.

      It’s such a shame because the videos really are good and as you say, we are paying a fair bit for them.

  2. I got a Private VPN and I connect to that to access Pluralsight content. That proves that my ISP is throttling the connection, because going via the VPN and via the Netherlands (for example) from Australia is faster than going direct via Telstra. Most often I do not have problems with buffering at all when the VPN is on, but I almost always have problems without.

    • Tony,

      I’ve thought about this and wondered if there was some truth in it because using my iPad 2 at home gave me endless problems, but when connecting via my local library (using the same iPad), it is largely fine. That’s with similar times and amounts of content.

      What makes me doubt it (in my case) is that:

      a) Why don’t I have these issues when using Netflix or Amazon Prime? Sometimes, there are more than one of us using these services at home, and we have no problems. That’s using my iPad, my PC, another PC I have. All fine.
      b) Why would the ISP care? Surely things like the above services are much more of a drain on bandwidth? If anything were to be throttled, I’d start with those.

      Maybe the cause is more to do with coming from the Netherlands and how Pluralsight treats that? I mean, perhaps it’s not the ISP to blame, but instead, Pluralsight delivering their content?

      Whatever the cause, it’s added a bit more food for thought, so thank you for commenting.

  3. The way I addressed the issue is to start playing at the video you’re on and then click pause. Then slowly drag the video slider towards the end of the video which causes the video to download the rest of the stream. And then drag the slider back to the beginning of the video and click play.

    • That sounds like a good idea but not something I have tried. Thanks for commenting – hopefully it will help someone else.

      Steve

  4. I was experimenting with the problem and came to the same conclusion as Tony. A VPN through some sites seems to eliminate the problem.
    A further investigation led me to realize that using Google DNS also solves the problem.
    The problem is with pluralsight CDN cachefly, it seems that if we are in a some countries they redirect to some server that is not the fastest (in my case: 204.93.142.142). Using google dns makes sure that vid.pluralsight.com resolves to a faster server (205.234.175.175)

    • You could be right, Alex. All my issues have gone now, despite PluralSight, but hopefully your comment helps someone else. On another note, apparently, they are trialling a beta of the app so that might address the issue too, in the future.

      Thanks for commenting.

  5. Hi

    Incognito mode of google chrome works well. Make sure you clear browsing history and cached storage in advance.

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