Dropped frames/disconnecting/lag? Read this first!

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Town drunk
NOTE: This thread contains EVERY piece of dropped frames / disconnect / network related advice we can give. If you really truly honestly super duper actually 100% tried everything in this thread (including replacing hardware), and you STILL have issues then the problem is somewhere along the route between you and whichever server you are trying to stream to. In this case, there will not be anything you can do to resolve the issue as an end user.

"Dropped frames" means that your connection to the service you are streaming to is not stable, or can't keep up with your set bitrate. Because of this, OBS was forced to drop some of the video frames in order to compensate. If you drop too many frames, you may be disconnected from the streaming server. You may also have connection problems such as random disconnections due to firewall / anti-virus / security software, routers, etc. Here are common solutions to these issues:

Try changing servers
If you think the issue is not with your connection speed, the first thing you should do when trying to diagnose a dropped frames/disconnection issue is to try other ingest servers to see if you can get a stable connection. Sometimes the server you are trying to stream to is having an off day or is overloaded when you are trying to stream. Switching another server will resolve many dropped frames/connection issues. Just because the server you have selected is the "closest" to you, or pings the best to you, does not mean it will give you the best connection. In fact, there have been times where Europeans have found US servers most reliable to stream though. So give a wide variety of servers a try, and make sure you try several servers, not just one or two before you give up.

Streaming to Twitch? Use TwitchTest to find the server that you have the best bandwidth to, and the max bit rate you can stream to that server at.

Try lowering bitrate
The next thing to try is lowering your bitrate until the dropped frames stop. Network conditions aren't always the same from day to day, and what worked yesterday isn't guaranteed to work today. Sometimes there's just not much else you can do except lower bitrate to compensate for the poor connection at a given time.

Don't stream over wireless
In many cases, wireless connections can cause issues because of their unstable nature. Streaming really requires a stable connection. Often wireless connections are fine, but if you have problems, then we are going to be very unlikely to be able to help you diagnose it if you're on a wireless just because it adds yet another variable. We recommend streaming on wired connections. If you must use Wi-Fi, try to set up your device and router to operate on 5 GHz as the 2.4 GHz frequency is much more susceptible to interference and drops, even though the signal may appear stronger.

Try another streaming service (Just as a test)
It can be helpful to try a different streaming service just to make sure the issue isn't just with the provider you're trying to use. For example, if you are having connection problems with Twitch, try streaming on Facebook or YouTube to see if you have the same issues. If the issues disappear, the problem might be with the streaming service. If the problem remains, then the issue is more likely with your connection in general. Check the service status via social media, for example Twitch often posts about outages on the TwitchSupport twitter.

Check your hardware (router / modem)
Many routers or modems supplied by ISPs are low quality and can cause issues when subjected to heavy demands. Make sure you have the latest firmware installed on any router you are using. It's generally recommended to use your own router, and ask your ISP to set theirs into "bridge mode" so you have a direct connection to your own router. Turn off any bogus security features on the router such as "DoS protection" or "Anti Malware" - these can slow down your traffic. If possible, test bypassing a router by connecting your PC directly to the modem or media converter provided by your ISP (if it's a separate device). If you can stream successfully with a direct connection then try a different router.

If you're unable to stream at all, check your router doesn't have a restrictive outbound firewall. Streaming via RTMP requires TCP port 1935 outbound and RTMPS / HLS requires port 443 outbound. Note that the majority of firewalls do not restrict outbound traffic. "Opening ports" or "port forwarding" are not required for streaming and should not be done as this may cause problems.

Check 3rd party software
3rd party anti-virus or firewall / security software can sometimes cause issues when it tries to inspect the traffic OBS is sending. You can usually temporarily disable it or add an exception for obs64.exe to check to see whether it's the problem. If disabling it works, simply add an exception for obs64.exe to your antivirus and then re-enable it. The process for adding an exception will vary, you will have to find out from the vendor's website or Google on how to do so. Some anti-virus products continue inspecting network traffic even when temporarily disabled and uninstalling it is the only way to test properly.

In some cases, software / drivers / programs claiming to "optimize" or "enhance" your network connection can cause problems. Try uninstalling any extra software / drivers related to your network card other than the core driver that needs to be installed for Windows. Avoid using any "network optimization" or "TCP tweak" programs. Some problematic software like ASUS ROG GameFirst may automatically install as part of your motherboard's UEFI drivers and must be manually uninstalled. Lenovo Vantage / Legion Edge pre-installed on some Lenovo PCs also creates problems with the "Network Boost" feature - this needs to be disabled when using OBS or you will experience severe network issues.

Speed tests are a very rough estimate - they mean very little with regards to streaming
Just because a speed test says you have 5Mb/s upload doesn't mean you can upload to anything at a stable 5Mb/s. That's just not how the internet works unfortunately. You're never guaranteed to be able to maintain a stable connection to a server if the server or routing points to the server are unstable. Your "stable" bitrate is more likely about 70-75% of your "estimated" speed test upload (and that's only if you're not being throttled). If anything, a speed test will tell you the theoretical maximum speed that you could stream at under perfectly ideal conditions, but conditions are never perfect.

Update Network Adapter Driver
In some rare cases, dropped frames can be caused by an old network adapter driver doing a poor job of handing the high speeds being consumed. It's not a bad idea to just check to see if there are any new drivers for your network adapter, just to be sure. If you have a PC that uses a Killer Networking NIC, you may want to try the Killer Uninstaller and use the basic driver instead as old versions of the Killer driver are known to cause problems. If you're using 2.5GB Ethernet, check with the manufacturer of motherboard or network card for updated firmware as early versions of 2.5GB Ethernet NICs have various performance problems.

Bad router or bad networking hardware
Faulty hardware is usually quite rare, but if you suspect your hardware is malfunctioning, plug in to your modem directly, bypassing the router, so you can check to see if that's the issue. You can also try a different port on the router in case the contacts are damaged. If you have another network card available (including the one in a laptop or other PC you might have lying around) try that plugged into the modem to check for network card problems on your streaming PC. Try using different Ethernet cables too as bad cables are surprisingly common. Don't forget about cables between other devices such as your router and modem.

Blame the Internet
The internet has hundreds of thousands of routes which tell it how to move data from point A to point B. At any given moment, these routes are constantly updating to account for overloaded links, broken cables, financial deals between ISPs, etc. Sometimes an ISP may route your traffic through an overloaded or unstable link which causes connection issues and dropped frames. As routes update in real-time, you may be able to stream perfectly fine one day and have major issues the next day. Unfortunately if this is happening, there's nothing you can do about this until the ISP responsible for the routing changes the route.
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