Unreliable SMB playback - how to optimize performance?


I’m experiencing very unreliable playback performance via SMB. I don’t have experience with personal media servers (Infuse, Plex, etc.) or network troubleshooting, so please bear with me.

Current Setup

All media are stored in a Western Digital My Book connected to my MacBook Pro 2018 via a USB-C hub; I use Infuse on my iPad, iPhone and the aforementioned MacBook Pro (alpha build).


While sometimes video playback on my iPad and iPhone are very smooth, other times videos will be stuck on the “Loading…” screen for minutes until a dialog pops up saying “An error occurred loading this content”.

Attempted Solutions

I tried all five options under Saved Shares > Advanced > SMB Version, namely Auto, SMB3, SMB2, SMB1, and Legacy. Speed Test of Average Speeds rarely exceeds 1 Mbps.


I would like to better understand the limiting factor of my streaming speed. How do I troubleshoot and optimize it? Is this a software issue (macOS / Infuse settings, SMB, etc.) or a hardware issue (USB-C hub, router, etc.)?

Thank you in advance!

How are things connected to the LAN? WiFi or Ethernet? Type of router?

Hello @NC_Bullseye, thanks for the swift reply! I’ve learned a lot from your posts in this forum :slight_smile:

All three devices are connected to the same WiFi network. The router is from TP-LINK but I don’t know its specs. Should I look up its model and / or certain specs?

That may help, initially it sounds like the drive or laptop may be sleeping or low power mode. Do you have the MacBooks MAC address entered in the advanced settings on the share in Infuse?

I feel like this is unlikely because even when I’m actively using the laptop, this issue doesn’t seem improved at all. Although I am almost always using it in clamshell mode with an external display, if that matters.

I just checked this setting and the MAC address was indeed empty. I copied the address from System Preferences > Network > WiFi > Advanced > Hardware and pasted it in, but the issue still persisted on both devices.

Maybe to rule out the drive going into low power or sleep you could create a small SMB share on the internal drive of the mac book and see it that reacts the same.

Could you explain in a bit more detail what’s happening? Is it starting to play and then goes to buffering or is it when you start the video it just spins and shows the error?

I don’t quite understand how to configure this. Am I supposed to create “a SMB share” for every directory? I was under the impression that I just needed to flip a switch to “turn on SMB” and other devices would be able to access all the files my laptop had access to, so I didn’t add any folder to the list of Shared Folders:

Anyways, I tested just now by attempting to stream a video stored in ~/Downloads in Infuse on my iPad. After I tapped on the file, it spinned for ~1min and started playing, but stuck at 0:02 and started spinning again.

When the issue occurs, the videos won’t play at all. After I hit the thumbnail, I’ll see a black loading screen:

If left untouched, it’ll keep spinning for ~3mins before this dialog pops up:

But when this issue temporarily resolves itself for no apparent reason, playback is buttery smooth. I watched a TV episode in Infuse on my iPad before sleep last night and the experience was flawless.