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3 handy Netflix tricks you'll use time and time again

I admit it. I binge-watched Netflix’s House of Cards and fell into the “just one more episode” rabbit hole. With a slew of new shows and movies hitting the service’s 81 million customers, here are three tips to remember the next time that you decide to take up residence on your couch for the weekend.

1. Check your speed
Nothing takes all the excitement out of streaming quite like buffering. When that happens, pull up Fast.com on your phone, tablet, computer or TV. It’s a new site powered by Netflix that shows you how fast (or slow) your connection is in real-time. Although it won’t stop the buffering from happening, it will help you pinpoint what might be causing it.

For starters, Netflix recommends minimum Internet connection speeds of three megabits per second for standard-definition video quality, five Mbps for HD, and 25 Mbps for Ultra HD content.

Like most things, your mileage may vary. Check your connection speed using Fast.com at various times throughout the day, and especially during evening 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. peak hours, to see if the results are consistently low. Slow Internet connection speeds will cause buffering.

A reboot may be all you need to regain speed. But you just can’t start pulling plugs out of the wall. Power down your router first and then, your modem. Wait a full 30-seconds. Then power up the modem first and then, the router. The lights will start blinking on each and in another 60 seconds you should be ready to try another speed test.

Failed again? Time to look at your Internet bill and find the connection speed you are paying for. Compare it to the Fast.com test results. If the numbers vary more than 10 percent, call your ISP and complain. If you want to double-check your Internet connection speed results, head over to Speedtest.net.

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