Why won't YouTube videos buffer and play?
April 17, 2013 7:15 PM   Subscribe

About 2 weeks ago, very suddenly, YouTube videos stopped buffering and playing normally on my laptop. This appears to be an intermittent problem. Sometimes a video will buffer and play. And sometimes the same video will not. When it doesn't, it will usually buffer and play for maybe 20 seconds, but then it freezes. And then maybe a minute later, a few more seconds will buffer and play. I have a fast broadband internet connection, Windows 7, 64 bit. The videos that won't buffer and play normally now are videos that I have watched just a few weeks ago with no issues. Again, this NEVER happened prior to a few weeks ago with any video. Something has changed and it is driving me crazy. I tried uninstalling Adobe Flash (using their uninstall program) and then reinstalling the most recent version compatible with my browser (Firefox). But that didn't change anything. I tried clearing cookies and cache. No change. Any suggestions?
posted by Seymour Zamboni to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, i've posted this one about 3 times recently... but try switching your DNS settings to point to Google Public DNS.

If the problem persists after that, i'd be surprised. Usually what causes it is just your ISPs local DNS server caching a few youtube servers for too long, and them getting overloaded. Using googles DNS you always get routed to the ones with the lowest load.
posted by emptythought at 7:19 PM on April 17, 2013

I've found that it does it when I don't move the mouse around, I have a routine where I hover over the various options on the bar at the bottom of the video. I've had videos where the progress bar was barely keeping up, so I paused, but the video never loaded any more (I left it an hour).
posted by 445supermag at 7:25 PM on April 17, 2013

I am having the same problem, so I'm interested in hearing the fix.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:44 PM on April 17, 2013

I have had some very strange problems like this with Firefox. My workaround was to just use internet explorer until Firefox magically fixed itself on the next update.

Also, youtube can be weird. Their network acts really stupid sometimes. I can be watching videos all over the place, and then one particular one just quits.

It could also be something with your ISP's connection to youtube.
posted by gjc at 7:46 PM on April 17, 2013

I've been having the same problem (OSX; all browsers) and I use Google's Public DNS.
posted by nightwood at 7:48 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not an answer but I have this issue sometimes on my iPad, in the YouTube app. I don't use google dns, but none of the other computers in my house have this issue. I assumed my iPad was subtly broken in some way.

So based on the other comments in this thread, it seems maybe that YouTube itself is the only thing in common?
posted by Joh at 7:53 PM on April 17, 2013

nightwood: "I've been having the same problem (OSX; all browsers) and I use Google's Public DNS."

Ditto, except that everything seems to play fine on my Android devices.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:59 PM on April 17, 2013

I've had this problem for a while now on OSX (all browsers; Google DNS) and my Nexus 10. Time Warner ISP too. Not sure if other ISPs have the same problem.
posted by fishmasta at 8:22 PM on April 17, 2013

Do you have other browsers on your laptop? Does it happen when you use them? I had this problem a while ago, and it turned out that when I reinstalled flash it reinstalled for one browser but another still had the old version.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:34 PM on April 17, 2013

Maybe you can try the Youtube html5 trial as a hack/workaround.
posted by htid at 8:44 PM on April 17, 2013

It does happen when I use Chrome and IE as well. It doesn't seem to browser dependent.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:45 PM on April 17, 2013

Google does this to save money. Many people click on a link to a 1 hour video, watch the first minute and stop. Now, they'll only have to upload 1 minute instead of the whole hour. I imagine this saves them tremendous amounts of bandwidth, disk reads and power.

Here are some workarounds
posted by uncreative at 9:33 PM on April 17, 2013

I've been having this problem, too (Firefox 20.0, OS 10.6.8), and it started just as suddenly for me. I've also been having an issue where the audio for things will play just fine, but the video just gives freeze frames and/or freezes up entirely. That seems to be triggered by looking away--either clicking on another tab while a video is playing, or even scrolling down to read comments. Re-loading fixes it, but I still don't know what the cause is.
posted by looli at 11:28 PM on April 17, 2013

I had this problem. Clearing my cache (just for YouTube) is what seemed to fix it for me. I also tried the html5 workaround described above, but the cache was what seemed to fix it. Mine wasn't browser dependent, either (that is, it happened in both Chrome and Firefox), and I tested solutions once at a time for each browser.

Good luck. This was a hugely frustrating problem for me for a long time.
posted by k8lin at 12:52 AM on April 18, 2013

I've been fighting this on my Ubuntu desktop. The only thing that seems to to work is reloading the page several times until I see that the video is loading quickly in the background. Occasionally it will stall close to the end but it seems if I can get it to load past 50% it very rarely stalls after that.
posted by COD at 5:01 AM on April 18, 2013

Is your laptop using WiFi? I had a similar problem and it turned out my wireless router was starting to fail.
posted by mikepop at 5:07 AM on April 18, 2013

I've had better luck getting YouTube videos to play since I've installed YousableTubeFix
posted by exogenous at 10:11 AM on April 18, 2013

this worked, like a charm, for me.

Essentially, ISPs use a CDN to cache youtube videos. The CDN can suck, so this method tells your computer not to use them.
posted by maulik at 11:15 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone. I will explore some of these options as a fix. I did find this add-on for Firefox and I installed it. It has helped a lot so far.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:33 PM on April 18, 2013

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