Do It Yourself Streaming Series: When Should I Update My Streaming Software?

Written by

Jacob Braunstein

Published on

January 5, 2021

When Should I Update My Streaming Software?

Everyone experiences this all the time – we log onto our computers to find the “update software” pop-up on the screen. When is the best time to pull the trigger? Are the new features worth it? Updates can cause major compatibility issues and can annoyingly come up right before your planned live stream.

The best rule of thumb is to avoid updating your software within 48 hours of your event. This will give you plenty of time to roll back the update or troubleshoot the issue.

Let’s discuss the main software that prompts updating: Paid, Free, Operating Software (Windows/Mac).

 

Paid Software: vMix, Wirecast, TriCaster, Livestream Studio, ProPresenter, etc…

Paid software should be trusted the most. The idea here being that the engineers and company behind the software thoroughly test and beta test before releasing anything. There is too much at risk for a for-profit company to release software and have a major release error.

Always check the release notes. Read them carefully and see if any of the talked about components or configurations relate to your setup. For example, if you’re using NDI protocol to ingest video signals and vMix says “Make sure you upgrade NDI tools on your computer beforehand…” you’re going to want to make sure that’s updated first. Another common release note example can be with certain versions of CPUs and GPUs, along with Windows OS versions.

Questions? Concerns? Hesitant? You paid for software, call the company who released it and go over your setup to 100% confirm.

 

Free Software: OBS, VLC, etc…

We’re going to assume here that free software has less resources to double & triple check for errors. Some software like OBS (Open Broadcast Studio) is crowdsourced, meaning that it relies on open-source code to receive it’s updates. This generally means that you’ll receive more frequent updates that will contain more bugs as different testers will have different use cases and equipment.

I’m going to focus on OBS for a moment, because this is the most common broadcasting software currently available. The format for their updates are xx.yy.zz. At the time of writing this article, the update is at 26.0.2. The last digit (2) represents a minor update, with mostly bug issues. The middle digit (0), is used for minor feature releases. The first digit (26), represents a major overhaul, often including new UI and major updates.

Never update OBS when the last digit is 0, meaning it’s a new update. For ultimate compatibility with your setup and the least number of bugs, wait until the last digit in the software update is at least 1, preferably 2. This means the bugs have been crowdsourced and fixed.


Operating Software: Windows & Mac

Windows computers are notorious in the live streaming market for their price, components, and compatibility. However, the downfall with Windows are the forced updates when restarting. I highly recommend disabling Windows updates permanently through the kernel process to make sure you are not surprised with a mandatory update right before you plan to go live. 

Mac computers are generally better at forcing updates. They are simply prompted and then recommended to update, but usually won’t require a force update.

Takeaways:
  • Paid software will likely have less bugs in their update
  • Before updating free software, check forums to make sure your setup will be compatible.
  • Never update to a new release or beta.
  • Disable automatic updates on Windows to make sure you are not forced to update right before you plan to live stream.

At LiveControl, our team of engineers and technical streaming specialists continuously check and recheck code for dependability. We will never push an update that will contain bugs. This is part of the reason why our reliability is so high. Streaming software can be rather complicated,  LiveControl’s goal is to make it easy. We handle everything from equipment, software, operation, and even distribution… all under one roof.

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