Something to consider if having problems playing large files


I’ve said before (and hopefully I’ll say it again) that my setup works just fine with the live (with the exception of the shared folders thumbnails).  I use it exclusively with network shares, and all my files are MKV containers ripped from blu-ray and standard dvds with Handbrake.

Today, for the first time, I had consistent problems with playing any file larger than 8GB or so – pretty unusual with my rips but there ARE a handful (like The African Queen, and Black Hawk Down) that are 10GB or more.  The problem was a stuttering of the video about a minute in, and then it froze up completely.  I tested other files and confirmed it was only a problem with the larger files – all files 8GB and under played fine.

After making sure there wasn’t any network issue (no heavy loads, nothing running out of the ordinary) I looked at all the services of my machine and disabled all that I could tell weren’t necessary.  I rebotted my server, reconnected to shares.  Still no joy.  I was hesitant to reset or otherwise change the Live since it was apparent that nothing had changed with it.

Finally I examined what might have changed on my server since I last played some of these large files (I always test my new rips at least three or four minutes in, so I knew these were working at some point).  In installing another product which I was fairly sure wasn’t an issue I noted it also installed the Microsoft Text to Speech engine.

Since that was the only thing that had really changed in my machine I tried uninstalling it and… everything starting working just fine again. 

Now, I’m not saying it was the culprit (because there is always the possibility of the cause and effect fallacy) but it’s certainly a strong candidate, particularly since that engine DOES try and intercept things and runs services all the time.  I’m also not saying that those of you who have network share issues should uninstall this program (although it never hurts to try).  The main reason I wrote all this is to show a general troubleshooting process that might be helpful.  If things are working and then stop working you need to examine what has changed in your system.  And you need to examine ALL aspects of your system, as well as all aspects of the problem.  If some files play and some don’t it’s worth trying to figure out what the difference is.  And for goodness sake don’t change more than one thing at a time or you’ll never figure out what exactly “fixes” the issue (assuming you can fix it).

Good luck to all (I’m a happy camper again).