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I have had an odd problem that arose while I was watching Netflix one day. I'm operating on an older laptop which had been fine until just recently (aside from being old and slow... but that's another topic! lol). So the symptoms of the issue are that while watching a 45-minute episode on Neflix it'll fairly frequently play only a few minutes at a time then stop. When this happens it generally takes 2-3 minutes for Netflix to recalibrate which isn't normal. However sometimes it'll play just fine with no issues. I'm generally pretty good about deducing what an issue is and fixing is but this one has me stumped. Here's why:

Initially I thought this was the result of the wireless adapter going bad but I ruled this out because the other day I plugged the laptop directly into the router but I had the same results. I highly doubt both the ethernet and wireless are going bad at the same time.

The other thing I have ruled out is an internet/network issue. The reason I ruled this out is that I have 3 other devices including one pc (wired) and on laptop (wireless) that have no issues at all. I doubt its a general hardware issue because it theoretically wouldn't have been fine for several months then suddenly not.

Other pertinent information: Laptop is running Windows 7 which was installed about a year ago (long before I even had netflix). My internet connection via the wireless adapter does on occasion seem to cut out and reconnect both at home and away. Internet connection was recently upgraded from 1.5 Mbps to 5 Mbps on DSL.

At this point I'm leaning towards it being a software issue but I'm not even sure where to look... Thanks for the help!

EDIT: To clarify what I meant when I said I didn't think it was an overall hardware issue... I meant that it wasn't because the hardware was old and not capable of processing the video feed. I know hardware can fail at any time so I wasn't indicating that it couldn't be a hardware issue just not a lack of capability hardware issue.

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You said it theoretically couldn't be a hardware issue because it was fine until now. Unfortunately, that couldn't be further from the truth. Hardware goes bad, and doubly so in laptops which are very susceptible to heat damage.

Off the top of my head: It could be the OS pausing while it is waiting on an ailing hard drive to access swap or some other file. Memory is a possibility, too. It could also be just heat causing intermittent but non-permanent errors.

I'd run a hard drive diagnostic from whoever manufactures your drive, a memory test like MemTest86, and possibly look into some sort of temperature monitoring application like SpeedFan or Core Temp.

If that's not the case, I'd probably give up and reinstall the OS as the next troubleshooting step, just to eliminate the pain of trying to dig out a software error if that's what it is.

But, that's just me.

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Do you think it would still be likely that its a hard drive or ram issue with the knowledge that both are under a year old? I upgraded the ram from a gig to 2 and put in a much larger western digital hard drive. –  Kenneth Mar 17 '11 at 3:32
    
Also I'm not sure if I follow on the heat suggestion... I did have heating issues right after upgrading to windows 7 but solved this by upgrading the BIOS (boy that was scary with the laptop not staying on for more than a few minutes! lol). Can you explain why a heat issue might be causing the problem? –  Kenneth Mar 17 '11 at 3:34
    
I further explained in an edit what I meant when I said I didn't think it was an overall hardware issue. –  Kenneth Mar 17 '11 at 3:37
    
Well, I've had hard drives and RAM die in less than a month. It couldn't hurt to check, just in case. The reason that heat is such a problem is because it reduces the life of electronics significantly. –  Hyppy Mar 17 '11 at 3:44
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