How to Fix YouTube Buffering Problems

We’ve all been there: you’re watching a YouTube video when all of a sudden it pauses and starts buffering, especially right when the video starts getting good. This problem isn’t uncommon and it happens to the best of us.

Sometimes the problem is on YouTube’s end, whether they experience a hiccup or servers go down, but usually it’s on the users end and videos and sputter if the their internet connection is spotty.

Luckily, there are things that you can try in order to make YouTube videos play better on your computer or mobile device before you throw it out the window. We’ll give you a few tips, but first it’s important to know the basics of video streaming and how YouTube videos get your computer.

How YouTube Videos Work

There’s a lot of confusing stuff that goes on behind the scenes of delivering a YouTube video from Google’s servers to your computer, but what you really only need to know is how viewing YouTube videos affects your internet connection. Video files take up storage space; you probably know this because after you’ve recorded so many videos on your smartphone, it starts to fill up and you eventually need to free up storage space.

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YouTube videos are no different, and while they are stored on YouTube’s servers, they still use up your internet bandwidth so that they can be delivered to your computer from YouTube’s servers. This essentially means that while you’re watching a YouTube video, YouTube will slowly send you the data needed to play the video (that way you don’t need to download it all first, and then watch it. This is called streaming).

If your internet connection can’t keep up with that, then the video that you’re watching tends to sputter and start to buffer, causing annoyances as you bang your hand against the side of your monitor in order to get it to magically work again.

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What You Can Do to Fix Buffering Problems

There are a few things you can try in order to alleviate most YouTube buffering problems, most of which are really easy to do and some may take a little extra effort on your part.

Check to see if anything else is hogging up bandwidth - If YouTube videos are sputtering, check to see if there’s anything else on your home network that might be hogging up bandwidth. You may not know it, but it’s possible that your kids or a roommate is already watching YouTube videos of their own, and many internet connections can only handle so much bandwidth.

If this is the case, politely ask them to stop so that you can watch your YouTube videos real quick, or you can be real evil and block their IP address from accessing the internet, although that takes a bit of networking finesse.

Plug into an ethernet connection if you’re on a laptop - A hard-wired connection is always faster and more reliable than a wireless connection, so if you’re having problems with YouTube videos playing nicely, plug your laptop into ethernet to get the best possible connection.

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Sit closer to the router - If you can’t connect to ethernet because you’re on a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet, the next best thing to do is sit closer to the router. The farther you are away from the router, the weaker your internet connection gets, especially if there are walls between you and the router.

Sitting closer to the router will improve your internet connection and could be the difference between buffering, sputtering videos and smooth-playing HD content.

Update your software - Usually we wouldn’t necessarily suggest users update their software in order to fix a buffering YouTube video, but it can work sometimes. Updating your web browser and other pieces of software that deal with video (such as Adobe Flash) could possibly fix issues that you’re having with unstable video, but more often than not, it’s usually just an internet connection problem.

When all else fails, restart everything - If none of the above seem to be working, simply restarting your router and/or your computer or mobile device can give everything a fresh start. Restarting a router is good to do every few weeks anyway, because it clears out any leftover internet crud that’s been building up (there’s obviously a more technical term for it).

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When you restart a router, it’s recommended that you do it the thorough way, which is to shut it off and unplug it from its power source for at least 30 seconds. Then plug it back in and turn it on. You’ll want to give it a couple of minutes to completely start back up, but once it’s up and running again, you should be greeted with a fresh internet connection where you don’t have to deal with sputtering YouTube videos anymore.

Comments

  1. Larry says

    It’s the cellular network or the app??? I’ve read many topics on this, or the phone itself?? My suspicion is the app and cellular networks both combined I’ve had the issue on iPhone and android I use iOS and OS and seen this on all networks, it’s voodoo lol lol

  2. cyberlunacy says

    no offense but had you had the buffering problems that so many people are complaining about you would know that this does NOTHING to fix it.
    the issue is 2 fold. The ISP’s and Youtube. and frankly most of it comes from youtube.

    the worst buffering is the B.O.D. (Buffering Of Death) in which buffering never ends, or rather youtube, be it the website or mobile app, says its buffering but checking your data stream shows little to no activity.

    restarting it usually results in it dieing at the same spot as i believe it is simply pulling form the cache files on your device. forwarding or rewinding of the video does nothing as it will not buffer (forward) and will just stop at the same spot again (rewind)

    this is why i believe the issue lies solely on youtubes.

    all this sit closer to your router stuff is baby talk and is side stepping the true issue that so many of us are dealing with.

    Youtube is broke, and watching videos on Youtube, mainly in the evenings (be it cellular or home internet) is troublesome to impossible.

    and there is nothing wrong with the ISP at the time because i can switch over and stream Netflix or Amazon prime video, at the highest bitrate, without a single issue.

    so maybe point the finger at the cause, instead of pulling the typical stuff by laying blame on the user.

    With articles like this that have no purpose but to blame the user, i suspect you moonlight for Google/Youtube

  3. Larry says

    To punk 21 you don’t know your d.ck from your thumb or your ass from a hole in the ground as for cyberlunacy you have a good point but it’s the app .. My opinion

  4. Dark Poet INC says

    I can’t seem to get anything through Century Link or Verizon the last 24 hrs. I went to a “Bright House” hotspot and was fine. I wonder if this has something to do with the whole “Net Neutrality” debate in Washington right now. Verizon and ComCast have been known to throttle the bandwith to NetFlix in the past and since YouTube joined up with NetFlix they might be getting treated the same.

    Welcome to the dirty tactics by the cable companies in order to get more money.

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