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Why might streaming music play only with starts and stops?

I’m running Windows XP and Explorer 8 but when I go to Pandora to play
music, the sound keeps cutting in and out. Do you know possibly what my problem
could be? Please advise if you would.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #100
I look at a computer that is experiencing a lot of starts
and stops while playing online music.

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Music starts and stops

It’s interesting. Normally we get this kind of a question with respect to
video because video requires a fair amount of data. It requires a lot of data
to be transferred, from the source to your computer, for the video to be
displayed smoothly.

In a case like this, audio, especially with today’s connections, typically
doesn’t take that much bandwidth. It doesn’t really require a whole lot of
internet speed in order for the audio to play smoothly.

Check your internet connection

So I’ll definitely have you check to make sure that the bandwidth that
you’re using is better than a dial-up modem, for example. But if you’re using
any form of cable or DSL or whatnot, the internet connection should be fast
enough.

Now, what does come into play are things like – who else is using that
connection? For example, check and see if you’ve got another machine that
shares that internet connection. See if it’s doing a large download or doing
some kind of really heavy internet activity.

If you have multiple machines doing internet activity of some sort, the net
result is that by sharing a single internet connection, the amount of speed,
the amount of bandwidth, the amount of actual data transfer rate that’s left
over for each computer, ends up being very small. And it’s possible that the
amount that’s leftover is not enough to stream an audio music station, like
Pandora, continuously.

Check computer resources

The other thing to look at (and this is probably, actually, the most likely
scenario) is that you’ve got other software running on your machine – and that
software is hogging one or more of the resources on your machine.

The resources that I would care about (if not the internet itself and your
network connection) are things like the CPU and the hard disk.

Another application that is using the CPU 100%, for example, while you’re
trying to stream music can absolutely cause that music streaming to be
interrupted from time to time.

The same thing, believe it or not, can happen with the hard disk. The music
streaming may not actually require the hard disk but it can cause your system
to behave in such a way that it still gets impacted by all of this
activity.

And finally, even memory can come to play here. It’s not as common. If for
example your system is so low on memory that it’s now swapping a lot to disk –
the whole disk thing comes into play again – regardless of whether or not the
streaming application is trying to use the disk or not.

So, what I would have you do is look at a couple of articles on my site:
Who’s
hogging all my CPU?
” is one. I’ve got another article that relates to the
same concept with respect to
disk activity
.

Take a look at those articles and see if there isn’t something going on on
your machine that is hogging your machine’s performance; something that is
actually causing the machine to become so slow or so preoccupied doing
something else that it doesn’t have time leftover to play your music.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

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