One of my housemates hit me with a quirky question this weekend: Netflix, which had previously been working just fine on his TV, was no longer loading. Everything else about the TV worked fine, but Netflix just kept cycling through connection attempts, punctuated with endless “tvq-rnd-100″ errors.
There are a few tricks you can use to troubleshoot in instances like these, which should hopefully get you back to making your way through your queue or scheduling your next bingewatch.
Avoid scammy SEO sites that don’t give great advice
To start, resist the urge to dump the error code into a search engine and click on the first result. That sounds like the first step you should take, but hear me out. There are way, way too many websites that offer up generic, often-irrelevant advice targeted to specific error codes. You’ll probably click on one, as I did, because you’ll want answers and their SEO game is strong. And as you read their not-so-carefully crafted copy, you’ll start to feel like you’ve been scammed—or worse, you’ll try their advice and possibly go too far with your troubleshooting, creating more work for yourself to fix what you did.
You’ll be able to identify these sites by their generic, awkward copy and meh design. They’ll sound incredibly boilerplate in their descriptions, use generic images to illustrate your issue, and offer the same kind of canned advice you could probably come up with yourself: try logging out and logging back in, for example.
That’s not to say this is bad advice; it just might not be very specific to the error you’re seeing, and you’re better off spending your time digging a little deeper to see if there are some actual, verified steps others have taken to solve your problem.
Try some basic troubleshooting
Before you even consult the internet and jump down the rabbit-hole of advice, you should try a few techniques to see if you can get Netflix up and running on your own. First, confirm—as I did—that your TV’s connection works fine. Can you load other apps? Stream from other services? If so, you’re probably not experiencing an issue with your wifi or ethernet connection.
Start with the simple trick of restarting whatever media streaming device you’re using to access Netflix. If that doesn’t work, try restarting your home network via your router (just in case). After that, check for device updates and app updates. Is there anything new you can install that might fix this issue? Is a pending install messing up your connection somehow?
You can try logging out of Netflix and logging back in, but I don’t think that would normally fix a connection error. Instead, jump into the app’s settings and, if your media streaming device allows it, clear the app’s data and cache. This will, of course, log you out, so make sure you have your login and password on standby (especially if the Netflix account you’re using isn’t yours, wink wink).
Wipe and restore the Netflix app—but not your media streaming device
What ultimately worked for me to get Netflix working on my housemate’s TV was to uninstall the Netflix app, wait a minute or so, and reinstall it. Once I logged back in again, streaming worked without a hitch. It’s the classic “hit the reset” button of fixes, and a technique I’m considering moving up higher on my “typical troubleshooting techniques” list. My only hesitation in doing so is that I hate typing login info—especially complicated passwords—using a TV remote.
That said, I’d recommend you do not factory reset your media streaming device or smart TV until you’ve exhausted all other options. It’s should be considered a last resort, which brings me back to my initial point: Generic troubleshooting sites that game SEO to serve you advertising will invariably have “factory reset” as one of the options on their list. And since they’re giving you generic advice, you might be tempted to perform this step before you’ve exhausted other options. Don’t. It’s a pain in the ass to set up your entire media streaming device again—including redownloading all of your apps—and it might not even fix the problem if the error is quirky enough or, say, specific to a recent app update.
Learn from others who have encountered the same issue
Say what you will about Reddit, Twitter or any of the other sprawling communities where people hang out and
complain help each other solve their various tech problems. Online forums and social media services are incredibly valuable for troubleshooting, because odds are good that you can find someone (or lots of people) who have had the same issue as you.
You can learn a ton from reading through other peoples’ experiences with your issue, including troubleshooting tips that did or definitely did not work. I wouldn’t rule the latter out completely; just lower their priority on your list. Similarly, don’t get upset if something that worked for one person doesn’t end up working for you. That’s why it’s called “troubleshooting.”
I can’t count the number of times someone with lots of experience dealing with a tech issue has found a quirky setting or wouldn’t-have-considered-it fix that saves the day. I trust a community of users more than I trust a service’s official customer support channels; consult your fellow geeks as one of your earlier troubleshooting techniques, and it’ll serve you well.
You can also turn to social media and web forums to figure out if the error you’re experiencing is widespread or something that’s only affecting you, which can help you decide if you even need to troubleshoot anything in the first place. If Netflix is throwing up an error code for a lot of people, or a lot of owners of the same streaming media device as you, there might not be anything you can do to fix it right now.
The trouble with troubleshooting
Whenever you encounter a technical problem that you can’t quite solve, you might start trying a bunch of random fixes to see what sticks to the wall—up to and including nuking your device and setting it up from scratch. You might even be tempted to toss your device, if it’s old enough, and replace it with something newer.
Instead, breathe. Take a moment. Assess. Start moving through your troubleshooting techniques from easiest to most difficult/annoying to do. And while you’re doing that, research.
That’s how I tend to approach most tech problems, and it always amazes me just how many people don’t know how to start troubleshooting. They just sigh, give up and wait for a fix to reveal itself—as if their device knows something is wrong and has sent a silent message to the technology gods for assistance. Sure, that works in some instances—but most of the time, the fixin’ is on you. Avoid the bad answers, try the basics and then reach out to see what has or hasn’t worked for everyone else. Odds are good you’ll find the solution that at first eluded you.