YouTube videos keep buffering? Here’s the fix

By , Oct 21, 2016

youtube

I’m a big time YouTube user, and even though I have zippy fiber optic internet, it seems like there are still times when YouTube videos get stuck buffering instead of playing when I want to enjoy HD video streaming.

If you can relate, then you should take a few minutes to read this piece, because we’ll be talking about some common remedies for the annoying buffering problem.

Why does this happen?

One thing I’ve learned over the years in IT is that even though you may have the fastest internet in the world, it doesn’t mean the servers you’re trying to communicate with do.

Granted we’re talking about Google here, a top contender in the internet industry who probably very well does have some of the best internet connections in the world, that doesn’t mean hiccups can’t occur from heavy traffic.

Basically, when a ton of people go to use YouTube at once, the servers work very hard to keep up with everybody. Sometimes they have their good days, and on others, they have their bad days.

For the most part, Google’s limitless funds have made it possible to implement really powerful servers that can handle large requests for just about anything, but on occasion, I still see things like this:

YouTube Slow Error

Notice the buffering wheel in the center of the video and the blue “Experiencing interruptions?” banner at the bottom. Have you ever seen this before? You’re not alone.

More often than not, this is going to be a problem on the user’s end rather than YouTube’s end, but we won’t count anything out. Below, we’ll discuss some ways you might be able to fix this buffering issue while watching videos on YouTube through troubleshooting.

Putting an end to the buffering

Google offers a number of possible solutions for stopping the buffering wheel of death on YouTube. Here are just a few:

Close some of your web browser tabs

If you have too many tabs open in your web browser, then your computer might not be able to handle all the processing power required to play the video and handle those tabs simultaneously. If this is the case, then you probably just need to close some browser tabs.

This is more common when trying to use 4K video playback or 60 FPS settings because they require a lot more processing power from your computer to render. Also, if you have more than one YouTube video running at a time, then you might be using all of your own internet bandwidth and the multiple videos are competing with one another to play.

Restart your web browser

It could be that your web browser is going through a hiccup, so go ahead and close and relaunch the web browser and then try reloading the video on YouTube again.

With a little luck, maybe things will perform better this time around.

Restart your router

Most internet problems occur at the source where it enters your home, and for most people that’s at the router, whether it’s wired or wireless.

Give it a good 30-second reboot so it can reinitialize. This may fix your slow internet problems, ending your YouTube buffering once and for all.

Restart your computer

A problem with your computer, such as a glitch in its video card, could potentially cause problems with video playback on YouTube. These are rare, but they happen from time to time, typically on lower-end computers.

If you believe this to be the case, restart your computer so your video card drivers can be reinitialized.

Update your web browser and plugins

If you’re running an outdated web browser or outdated media plugin, then it’s possible that there is a compatibility issue. By keeping your web browser and its media plugins updated, you ensure that you have the latest possible software for handling your media and help keep this from being the problem.

Although YouTube can operate without Flash now thanks to HTML5, there was once a time when YouTube videos were completely Flash-based, and not having the Flash plugin would keep you from being able to watch anything.

Although this is less common nowadays, using an outdated web browser where certain features are disable for security reasons can have similar effects, so always make sure you’re up to date.

Use Google Chrome

I’m personally a Firefox fan, so I cringe at this one, but Google recommends using Chrome for your YouTube needs.

Can you blame them? I mean Google made Chrome and they also own YouTube, so it would only make sense that they optimize everything for the best performance possible.

Try it. Who knows, maybe it’ll work better for you.

Other possible solutions

In addition to Google’s suggestions, we have a few for you also that we’d like to add. Try the following:

Make sure you have a good internet signal

If you have a bad internet signal on your laptop or iOS device, then it may have trouble communicating with YouTube and this may lead to poorer video quality or buffering issues.

This is especially a problem when you only have one bar because you’re mooching off of your neighbor’s Wi-Fi and you move too far away from it.

Change the video quality

It’s ridiculous that you should have to downgrade your video quality when you have high-speed internet, but if YouTube is having problems on their end, reducing the video quality to 480p or another non-HD quality will improve streaming speed and help mitigate buffering issues.

Change your DNS server

If you have a DNS server that’s blocking certain domains, then you’ll be unable to play videos. In some cases, the website may load, but the video will not play, giving a similar result to the buffering problem.

The Google DNS server (8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4) is probably one of the most reliable ones out there. There are two ways to use it: 1) from the Wi-Fi settings on your device, or 2) via your router‘s internal settings.

Use a VPN

It’s possible that the wireless network you’re connected tois blocking YouTube from loading or videos from playing. Using a VPN might skirt you around any possible blocks that would otherwise keep you from having a successful connection.

We have a detailed analysis of why and how to use an VPN on your computers or mobile devices that goes in depth. We recommend Private Internet Access, which is simply awesome.

Try another machine

If nothing works, try using another machine. Maybe the one you’re using is just too slow, or another machine may have a better internet signal than the one you’re using.

Contact your ISP

Are you promised a certain internet speed? Make sure you’re getting it. I’ve seen situations where people who where promised 15 megabits per second were only getting 5. With multiple people on the same network, this problem really chokes YouTube performance for everyone.

Use Speedtest.net to verify that you’re getting the speeds you are promised, and if not, contact your ISP to find out why you’re not getting what you pay for or to upgrade to a faster internet package.

Did it work for you?

YouTube buffering problems are frustrating. I understand, because I’ve been there and done that. Fortunately, fiber optic internet like the service I’m paying for now is a relatively reliable internet solution, so I can’t complain too much.

Were you able to solve your buffering problems with any of these steps? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • Favna

    Another tip to add is to have people disable DASH playback with an extension such as Youtube Center so the video can pre load entirely when paused rather than in segments.

  • Scott Curry

    Came here looking for help with buffering YouTube videos. Instead found a whole bunch of copypasted tips for slow Internet.

    Sure you don’t want to add ‘ask your ISP if they provide any faster data packages’?