Lagging video from your webcam can ruin a call and make it very difficult to communicate with your contacts. Several different factors can affect the quality and speed of the streaming video feed, so you'll need to troubleshoot them one by one to find a resolution -- issues with your Internet connection, with the webcam device itself, or with third-party programs installed on your system can all cause lagging. Changing the USB port your webcam is plugged into and unplugging other USB devices may also improve the responsiveness of the webcam.
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Check the stability and speed of your Internet connection using an online testing service such as Speedtest.net. If your connection seems slow or unreliable, try closing down other programs or devices using the Web, reboot your router, or switch to a wired Ethernet connection rather than connecting over Wi-Fi.
Download and install the latest drivers for your webcam device. These should be available from the download or support section of the manufacturer's website. Run the setup file and follow the instructions on screen to complete the installation. Updating the driver software ensures the latest bug fixes and compatibility updates are applied, as well as replacing any files that may have been erased or damaged.
Shut down any unnecessary programs or open browser tabs running on your computer. This process frees up system memory and processor time which can be used by your webcam and video streaming software. If you are using an external webcam, make sure it is firmly plugged into a port on your computer or laptop itself rather than a hub, and that you are using the fastest available ports (USB 2.0 or USB 3.0).
Ensure you are using the latest version of your chosen video chat software. Updates can be obtained from the developer's website or through an auto-update function within the program itself. In addition make sure the latest updates for your operating system are installed. This ensures maximum compatibility with the hardware and software running on your system, and applies the latest bug fixes.
Check the settings within your anti-virus and firewall programs to make sure your webcam and its associated software are allowed to operate and access the Web freely. For more detailed instructions, consult the documentation supplied with your security software. Shut down any programs that may be causing a conflict with the webcam, such as alternative video chat clients or video management software.
Change the video quality setting of your webcam through the provided software or through your video chat client, if the option is available. Reducing the quality of the video you're trying to stream improves performance on slower connections.
Tips and warnings
- Even if the lag problem is occuring from your end (your contact sees choppy footage), the problem may be on the other user's computer, particularly if you are only experiencing issues with one specific contact. Once you've run through the troubleshooting steps on your own hardware and software, ask your contact to do the same.
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