As I write this, over a hundred hours of content is being uploaded to YouTube. Every month, over a billion people from across the world – nearly half the worldwide internet population – will land on YouTube to watch film trailers, fail compilations and, of course, cat videos. Altogether, they’ll consume over 6 billion hours of video every month.
Which is to say, YouTube is a pretty big deal indeed.
Despite its popularity, YouTube does have its share of problems. Even though it is owned by Google, which definitely knows a thing or two about running insanely popular websites, it isn’t uncommon to run into video playback, sizing and display issues while watching a video on YouTube.
This article will try to find answers some of these problems. If you instead want to learn how to create amazing YouTube videos instead, you should check out this course on video production and marketing.
Problem 1: Specific Videos Won’t Play
This is a known issue where certain videos won’t play normally, even when other videos work completely fine. Some of the issues include:
- Video fails to load.
- Video takes a long time to load (even with a fast connection).
- Video stops playing after some time.
There is no single solution to all these problems. Most of the time, the culprit is either your browser, Adobe Flash, or specific browser settings. Follow the steps given below one by one to solve this problem:
Step 1: Refresh your web browser
The easiest way to solve this problem is to simply refresh the browser page. Most of the time, the video would play back fine after a refresh.
Step 2: Restart your browser
If refreshing the browser doesn’t help, try restarting it. Some problems arise due to background processes running in the browser. Restarting stops these processes and gives you a clean slate to run YouTube.
Step 3: Use a Different Browser
Sometimes, the problem may lie with the browser itself (especially if you’re using an older browser). Use a tool like WhatBrowser.org to figure out which browser you’re currently using and switch to an alternative browser. I highly recommend using either Chrome or Firefox.
If the video still doesn’t work, try out step no. 4.
Step 4: Clear cache and cookies
Cache refers to a repository of data that helps web browsers display web pages faster. For example, if you visit Google.com every day, the browser will store all page elements that don’t change very frequently – the CSS (a document that helps web designers control the page’s visual style), the logo, etc. – onto your hard drive. This way, instead of downloading these files from the web server, the browser can serve them from the hard drive itself, which is much faster.
Cookies are little pieces of code used to track your online behavior. Advertising companies use them to display the right ads, while companies like Google use them to ensure that you have a consistent experience across all their services (Gmail, YouTube, Google+, etc.). Contrary to popular belief, not all cookies are used for nefarious purposes; some cookies can actually improve your online experience.
Over time, both the cache and cookies can bloat over and affect browser performance. This is why it is recommended that you clear your cache and cookies regularly.
For the purpose of this example, we’ll learn how to clear cache and cookies on the Chrome browser.
1. Open Chrome. Click the menu bar in the top right corner and select Settings.
3. In the pop-up window, select Cookies and other site and plug-in data, and Cached images and files. It is also a good idea to select Hosted app data.
Click on the Clear browsing data button. It may take a few minutes to clear the cache/cookies.
If you’re using a different browser (use WhatBrowser.org to find out what browser you’re on), follow the instructions at the links below to clear the cache/cookies:
- How to clear cache/cookies on Firefox
- How to clear cache/cookies on Safari
- How to clear cache/cookies on Internet Explorer
Restart the browser and check if the video plays properly now. If it still fails to play, jump to step 5.
Want to become a YouTube expert? Check out this course on producing and marketing videos that attract tons of traffic!
Step 5: Update Adobe Flash Player
Flash is the technology powering a lot of interactive elements on web pages. It is also used to play videos on YouTube in most cases (although YouTube is gradually transitioning to HTML5 video format).
Flash is notoriously buggy, even prompting Steve Jobs to pen the now famous ‘Thoughts on Flash’ essay. Updating Flash player can often solve most common YouTube playback problems.
1. Go to the Adobe Flash player website and click on the ‘Check Now’ button. This will show your current Flash version and whether your browser is set to update Flash automatically.
2. In case your browser doesn’t update Flash automatically (common with older browsers), head over to the Adobe Flash player download page. Click the ‘Install Now’ button and follow the on-screen instructions.
Note: If you are using a browser like Chrome, you don’t need to worry about updating Flash; Chrome takes care of it automatically. In this case, you may see the following message on the Adobe Flash player download website:
Once Flash is installed, restart your browser and check if the problem persists. If it does, jump to step no. 6.
1. Click on the menu icon in the top right corner and select Settings.
2. Click on ‘Show advanced settings’. Scroll down to the ‘Privacy’ section and click on Content Settings
4. Click OK and restart the browser. If you’ve followed all the above six steps, you shouldn’t have any more problems.
Problem 2: Video is Slow/Video Buffers a Lot
This isn’t precisely a YouTube issue. It has more to do with your current internet connection speed, the number of devices concurrently using your connection, and whether you have any applications open in the background.
Change Video Resolution
The first step in solving this problem is to reduce the video resolution. YouTube sometimes ends up choosing a higher resolution than your connection can actually support, which leads to a lot of buffering and slow playback.
You can change this by manually selecting the resolution. Click on the gear icon in the bottom right corner of the video. You should see a dropdown menu for video quality.
Select a lower resolution from this menu and see if it solves the playback problem.
Want to maximize your views on YouTube? Learn how to create viral videos that get a ton of social media traffic in this course.
Check Concurrent Connections
If the above didn’t solve the problem, you may either have a slow internet connection, or you may have multiple devices using your connection simultaneously.
To solve the former, get in touch with your ISP to upgrade your connection. YouTube performs best when your connection can support speeds of at least 8 MBPS and above.
The latter problem is a little more difficult to solve. Most of us have multiple devices (tablets, phones, gaming consoles, etc.) using the same Wi-Fi connection. It’s also not uncommon for neighbors leeching off your connection, especially if you have an unsecured Wi-Fi or a weak password.
Follow these steps to check if there are unauthorized devices using your connection:
Step 1: Open command prompt by typing in ‘cmd’ into Windows search and selecting the first result (cmd.exe), as shown below.
Step 2: In command prompt, type in ipconfig and press enter.
You should see the following screen:
Note down the Default Gateway. This is the IP address used to access your router’s admin page. Usually, it’s 192.168.0.1
Step 3: Open a new browser window and enter the Default Gateway IP address you noted down above. The browser may prompt you for a username and password. In most cases, it’s simply ‘admin’ and ‘password’. If that doesn’t work, contact your service provider.
Step 4: You’ve now entered your router’s admin page. This page will vary from router to router, but it’ll mostly look something like this:
Step 5: Look for ‘Attached Devices’ or ‘Connected Devices’ in the left menu. It’ll usually be under the ‘Maintenance’ heading.
This section should show a list of all devices currently using your Wi-Fi connection.
If you see a device you don’t recognize, it may be a sign that someone is stealing your Wi-Fi and reducing your internet speed.
One way to solve this is by changing your Wi-Fi password. You can usually do this within the router admin page itself, typically under Wireless Settings in the ‘Setup’ section. Look for the ‘Network Key’ configuration.
This should solve most of your video speed issues. If not, consider upgrading to a faster connection.
Problem 3: Missing Video Controls in Internet Explorer 8 or Below
This is a known YouTube issue on certain videos when using Internet Explorer 8. Typically, it results in video controls not being available as shown below:
The easiest way to solve this problem is to upgrade your browser. Internet Explorer 8 is woefully outdated. Upgrading to Internet Explorer 10+, or even better, a modern browser like Chrome will make web surfing and watching YouTube much more enjoyable.
This is the same video on Chrome:
Download any of these browsers from the following links:
Problem 4: Video Stops Abruptly / Video is Black, Green or White / Video is Splotchy
A number of issues may cause this problem, but more often than not, it’s caused by a problem with Flash. Try updating your Flash as per instructions given above (see: problem #1). If that doesn’t work, check out the solution below:
Disable Hardware Acceleration in Flash
The first step in solving this problem is to disable hardware acceleration in Flash. In some cases, Flash can use a computer’s graphics card to improve video playback performance. However, due to hardware conflicts and device driver issues, this can cause video playback problems.
Follow these steps to disable hardware acceleration in Flash:
1. Right click on the video you’re having problems with. Click on Settings on the menu that pops-up.
2. On the next screen, uncheck Enable hardware acceleration
Click close. Refresh the page and see if this fixed the problem.
Note: If you don’t see the Adobe Flash player menu when you click the right-mouse button, it’s probably because you’re using YouTube’s HTML5 player. Instead, you should see something like this:
In this case, you need not worry about hardware acceleration issues; the solution to your problem lies somewhere else (see solutions given in problem #1 above).
So there you have it – a complete list of common YouTube problems and their solutions. If you tried out each of the solutions given above, you should have no problem playing any video. To avoid any problems in the future, keep your browser updated and ensure that you are using the latest version of Flash.
If you’re a YouTube creator and want to give your audience the best viewing experience, check out this course on 25 steps to maximize your YouTube views.