The most common Roku problems and how to fix them

Have you always wanted to run Netflix and Hulu on your old-school HDTV? Most first-wave TV sets featured little in the way of smart TV features. This is where streaming devices come in handy. One of the most popular device options is the Roku. With hardware at many different price points, from the basic get-it-down Streaming Stick to the cutting-edge Roku Streambar, there’s a model for every streamer.

But like all things tech, Roku devices are wont to run into bugs and other troubles now and then. Whether it’s a glitch with the remote, the Roku device itself, or a sneaky hidden gotcha like an app compatibility issue, Roku problems can be frustrating when they pop up. The good news is that 99% of the time, there’s an easy fix. Here’s a list of the most common Roku problems and how to fix them.

How to fix Roku problems at a glance:

How to restart, update, and reset your Roku

Most Roku problems can be quickly solved by a restart, a software update, or in worst-case scenarios, a factory reset. Before moving on to any other troubleshooting steps, try these first.

How to restart your Roku

  • Press the Home button on your Roku remote.
  • Scroll up or down and select Settings.
  • Select System.
  • Select System Restart.
  • Use the remote’s directional pad to highlight the Restart button and press OK.
  • Your Roku device will now restart.

Sometimes, Roku devices will simply freeze up, and the remote appears to be completely unresponsive. When this happens, you can often restart the device without needing the on-screen menus. To do this, follow this button-press sequence on your Roku remote precisely:

  • Press the Home button five times.
  • Press the Up arrow one time.
  • Press the Rewind button two times.
  • Press the Fast Forward button two times.
  • After a few seconds of completing this sequence, your Roku should restart.

How to update Roku software

If a restart doesn’t help, your software may be the problem. Roku software updates usually happen automatically in the background, without any need for you to take action. But now and then, this process doesn’t work. If you’re experiencing problems, it’s always a good idea to check the status of your Roku software before moving on.

  • Press the Home button on your Roku remote.
  • Scroll up or down and select Settings.
  • Select System.
  • Select System Update.
    • This screen will show you the current software and build version, and the date and time it was added to your Roku.
  • Select Check Now to manually check for updates.
  • If an update for your software or your installed channels is available, it will be downloaded and installed automatically and your Roku will reboot. It’s very important that this process is allowed to complete without interruption.

How to factory reset your Roku

A factory reset is a thermonuclear option for fixing problems. As the name suggests, it returns your Roku to the same state it was in when you pulled it out of the box. This means that all of your settings including downloaded channels and network preferences will be wiped out. As such, we suggest keeping this one in your back pocket for when everything else fails.

  • Press the Home button on your Roku remote.
  • Scroll up or down and select Settings.
  • Select System.
  • Select Advanced system settings.
  • Select Factory reset.
  • Select Factory reset everything and then follow the on-screen instructions.

The above steps assume your Roku is still responsive and gives you the option of using the on-screen menus. If it doesn’t, switch to plan B by using the physical reset button on your device.

On some Roku products, like the Roku Streaming Stick and Streaming Stick+, the reset button can be pushed with your finger. On set-top devices like the Roku Ultra, it’s usually a recessed button that requires a paperclip or other small, pointed object to press.

Once you’ve found it, make sure your Roku device is powered on, then press and hold the reset button firmly for about ten seconds. The indicator light will blink rapidly on most Roku devices when the factory reset is complete.

Roku remote control problems

Roku devices come with two different kinds of remote controls. One kind is an infrared (IR) remote and the other is an enhanced “point-anywhere” remote. Before you try to fix problems with your Roku remote, you should figure out which one you have.

Remove the battery cover from the back of the remote. Just below where the batteries sit, you may find a small button. If you do, you’ve got an enhanced “point-anywhere” remote. If you don’t, yours is an IR remote.

For IR remotes

IR remotes need to be able to “see” the Roku device they control. Almost all problems with IR remotes stem from the remote not having a direct line-of-sight to your Roku device. Most of the time, IR signals can bounce off walls and ceilings to reach their target, but even then, if your Roku device is stuck behind another object, those IR signals won’t make it.

When seated wherever you normally watch TV, if you can see the entire front side of your Roku device, you should be fine. If you can’t, move the Roku until you can. Never place a Roku device that uses an IR remote behind your TV or inside a cabinet.

The remote’s batteries can also be a problem. If the remote works well sometimes, but not all the time, try pulling the batteries out and replacing them. That might fix a problem with a poor connection.

Weak IR signals can be another problem. Think of an IR remote as a flashlight that shines a light that you can’t see. If the batteries are old, that light will be too weak. If the batteries are really depleted, the remote might not respond to button presses at all. Try replacing the batteries with new ones.

For enhanced “point-anywhere” remotes

These remotes are a bit more sophisticated, so there are several ways to troubleshoot their operation. The first step is to try the same battery tricks as above — remove and replace them, or simply install new ones.

If this doesn’t help, the next step is to restart both the Roku device and the remote:

  • Remove the power cable from the Roku device.
  • Remove the batteries from the remote.
  • Plug the Roku device back in, and wait for it to finish booting up — you should see the home screen.
  • Reinsert the batteries into the remote and wait about 30 seconds. The remote should now respond to button presses.

If the restart procedure doesn’t fix your problem, you may need to re-pair the remote to your Roku:

  • Remove the power cable from the Roku device.
  • Remove the batteries from the remote.
  • Plug the Roku device back in, and wait for it to finish booting up — you should see the home screen.
  • Reinsert the batteries into the remote, but don’t replace the battery cover yet.
  • Press and hold the pairing button inside the battery compartment of the remote for three seconds or until you see the pairing light on the remote begin to flash. Depending on your remote, the pairing light might be beside the pairing button, or on the top surface of the remote, near the bottom end. If the light does not flash, try again. If the light still does not flash, try replacing the batteries.
  • Wait for 30 seconds while the remote establishes a connection with your Roku device.
  • You should then see the remote pairing dialog on your TV screen.

In rare instances, wireless signal interference can cause problems with enhanced remotes. If you own a Roku Streaming Stick or Streaming Stick+ and they’re plugged into an HDMI port on the rear panel of your TV, an HDMI extender cable could help move the Stick away from the main body of the TV, thereby reducing any interference the TV could be causing. If you own a Roku Streaming Stick, Roku will send you one of these cables for free.

It’s also possible that there’s simply too much congestion on the 2.4GHz frequency used by the remote to communicate with the Roku. One way to solve that problem is to switch your Wi-Fi router to a different wireless channel. Another solution is to switch your Roku to your router’s 5GHz network if it has one.

Roku Wi-Fi problems

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If you’re experiencing degraded video or audio quality, overall slowness of your Roku when responding to commands, or you see “not connected” in the top right corner of your home screen, you’re probably dealing with Wi-Fi issues. Checking Wi-Fi signal strength is the best place to start. Check the status of your Wi-Fi signal strength by going to Settings > Network. Assuming you’re actually connected to Wi-Fi, the signal strength will be listed as Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor. If it’s Fair or Poor, you should try to improve i

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