YouTube? Sucks?
April 10, 2011 12:26 AM   Subscribe

Why does YouTube suck so much?

It's Saturday night I'm trying to catch up on any Lady Gaga videos I've missed in the last year. So, I'm not trying to grab content that's too high in demand, right? Why is it all so slow? I'll see ten seconds of video then ten seconds of lag then ten seconds of video. It's infuriating... Is this just a Saturday night YouTube thing? Is there somewhere else to catch up on current videos? I know YouTube is the central repository though so I wonder why they're sooooo slloooooowwwwwww.
posted by bendy to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I hate to say this, but it might be your Internet provider.

Time to visit

Visit the site at different times of the day, on different days to see if there's a huge spread.
posted by veryblue1 at 12:30 AM on April 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Youtube has some kind of caching for popular content so less popular content can actually be slower.
posted by tallus at 12:35 AM on April 10, 2011

Is it just YouTube or any streamed video?
posted by synchronia at 12:37 AM on April 10, 2011

Tallus has it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 AM on April 10, 2011

Hm, it looks like it's my ISP. I've been using this great local line-of-sight provider who is great during off-peak times (15+Mbps up and down) but now, not so much: speedtest.
posted by bendy at 2:06 AM on April 10, 2011

Also, previous speedtest.
posted by bendy at 2:09 AM on April 10, 2011

In addition to your ISP, the channel you're viewing might make a speed difference. For instance, a lot of musicians have VEVO channels that take foreeeever to load. I've just learned to avoid watching those videos.
posted by estlin at 5:59 AM on April 10, 2011

You may have noticed on the bottom right of every video there is a button that can be set to the resolution whether it 240p, 360p, 480p, or 720p. If the videos are loading slowly or stopping then try a lower setting like 240p. My ISP - AT&T DSL sucks so I can't watch anything at 720p. I tend to watch videos at 360p which typically doesn't stop.
posted by JJ86 at 7:06 AM on April 10, 2011

Lady Gaga has an official Vimeo page. Only 3 videos, but if any are the ones you’re looking for, it will almost certainly be faster and better video quality.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:15 AM on April 10, 2011

It sounds like it is your ISP, but its also worth noting that using a 3rd party DNS server (open DNS 4.2.2.*, etc) can lead to you being connected to a sub-optimal content distribution point.
posted by Good Brain at 10:06 AM on April 10, 2011

saw a report that a lot of isps here in the states as well as the pacific rim and england were/are having some pretty serious internet backbone issues last night...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:24 AM on April 10, 2011

So, checking my Verizon Optimum Online cable modem service by going to the speedtest site, my download speed is 0.95 Mb/s, upload is 2.08 Mb/s and ping is 36 MS, -- hardly better than dialup speed. Also, Bendy's link goes, I think, to his personal results, which are much better.

I know that cable modem speed depends on the subscriber load, but this seems extreme. Should I make them give me a new cable modem, or is this normal? Anything I can do other than changing providers? I get my service through my cable box, and for another provider I'd have to get a new wire strung in. Much less convenient.
posted by KRS at 11:11 AM on April 10, 2011

Is your ISP throttling YouTube? You can test for traffic shaping.
posted by phil at 12:31 PM on April 10, 2011

Also check out We show you, your ISPs average, and other ISPs near you. If your speed shows much lower than your ISP, you probably want to see if your line is OK. If your ISP just sucks well the answer is obvious.

By the way, the popular/less popular thing does have an effect, but not usually anywhere near this strong. The internal difference between front and back of cache is nowhere near as big as the effect you describe.

For your ISP, 1Mbps should be fine for 480p or less, 2Mbps for 720p and 4Mbps for 1080p, although the higher the better.

So now the question it seems is whether the issue is specific to you or your ISP as a whole, which only they can answer (but my_speed might give you a clue).

.44Mbps would barely be enough for 360p, and thats if your connection was doing nothing but smoothly streaming. Your ping is huge which is causing even more issues.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:00 PM on April 10, 2011

Yeah, as Good Brain says, check your DNS. You want to be using either your provider's DNS or one you're running in your own network.

Youtube has installations all over the world; this is called 'geocaching'. When a DNS server does a lookup, Youtube's servers will reply with the address of a farm that's close to the DNS server, not necessarily close to you. So if you're using something like OpenDNS, which I think is in Austin, Youtube will give you a server that's close to Austin.

By using a local DNS, you'll get answers that are closer to you, network-wise, and that may improve performance substantially.

You may also just be bandwidth-impaired; your line may not be fast enough, your provider may suck, or you could potentially be taking most of your upstream bandwidth with something like bittorrent, which will absolutely KILL download speed on most providers. This is because ISPs use large memory caches on their equipment, and because of how TCP/IP works, large buffers defeat its ability to scale properly to your available bandwidth. If you're saturating your upstream link, the long latencies before replies get through (as they work their way through the large memory buffer) will completely bollix things up.

tl;dr version: use a local DNS, don't run bittorrent, make sure your upstream bandwidth is mostly clear. If it still sucks, you either need more bandwidth or a better ISP.
posted by Malor at 6:37 PM on April 10, 2011

FYI, if you're interested in a local ISP that has generally awesome quality, can't be beat.
posted by kdar at 6:56 AM on April 11, 2011

Wow, thanks all. I think it was pretty much all of these reasons... My ISP seemed to be having an off-night, I was looking at a Vimeo channel, was looking at something not particularly current and that my_speed page shows me as having a much lower YouTube speed compared with my neighbors. I wasn't torrenting anything at the time, though I was downloading some HD video from iTunes.

And thanks kdar for the recommendation - I'm moving to the peninsula in a few weeks and have been trying to figure out a non-Comcast high speed ISP.
posted by bendy at 7:11 PM on April 11, 2011

Er, not Vimeo channel, VEVO.
posted by bendy at 7:12 PM on April 11, 2011

I have the same problem. I can't smoothly play anything from YouTube and I have a 50Mb/sec FIOS. This is a fairly recent problem, cropping up oin the last month or so.
posted by bz at 5:47 PM on April 14, 2011

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