Has this happened to you? You excitedly open YouTube to watch that funny cat video or the latest music video from your favorite artist, but instead of playing, the video loads endlessly or never even starts. Few things are more annoying than YouTube videos not playing properly!
But don‘t worry, many easy fixes exist that can get your videos streaming again in no time. This article will walk you through 5 quick troubleshooting tips to try when YouTube videos won‘t play. Follow the steps below to get your video playback working smoothly again.
1. Check Your Internet Connection Speed
The most common reason for YouTube playback issues is an unstable internet connection. Videos require a steady download speed to stream without disruptions or buffering.
YouTube recommends a minimum of 5 Mbps download speed for smooth HD streaming. To check your current speed, run an internet speed test at SpeedTest.net. Simply click "Go" and it will analyze your connection and ping.
If your speed is lower than 5 Mbps, that likely explains the playback issues. Here are some tips to boost your speed:
Disconnect any other devices using your WiFi like phones, tablets or laptops. The more devices connected, the slower the speed.
Move closer to your router if possible. Speed declines with distance so being nearby helps.
Restart your router and modem. Unplug both for 30 seconds before plugging back in. This often resolves temporary glitches.
Upgrade your internet plan. If speed tests consistently show low speeds throughout your home, paying for faster internet is the ultimate solution.
Solid speeds are crucial for streaming. Just 1.5 Mbps can stream standard definition video, while 5+ Mbps is needed for smooth HD. Review this table to determine the internet speeds needed for different YouTube video qualities:
|Video Quality||Minimum Download Speed||Ideal Download Speed|
|144p||0.5 Mbps||1 Mbps|
|240p||0.7 Mbps||1.5 Mbps|
|360p||1 Mbps||3 Mbps|
|480p||1.5 Mbps||4 Mbps|
|720p||2.5 Mbps||6 Mbps|
|1080p||5 Mbps||10 Mbps|
|1440p||12 Mbps||20 Mbps|
|2160p (4K)||25 Mbps||50 Mbps|
As you can see, faster internet is required the higher the video resolution. But even with a blazing fast connection, fluctuations in speed can disrupt streaming. Consistent speed is key.
2. Update Your Browser
Another common culprit is an outdated web browser. YouTube‘s video player relies on up-to-date browser software to function properly. Using an outdated version can cause glitches and compatibility issues.
Make sure you are using the latest version of your browser:
Chrome: Click the 3 vertical dots in the top right, go to Help > About Google Chrome to check your version and update if needed.
Firefox: Click the 3 horizontal lines in the top right, go to Help > About Firefox to check and update.
Safari: Click Safari in the top menu bar, then Preferences > Software Update to check and update.
Edge: Click the 3 horizontal dots in the top right, go to Help and feedback > About Microsoft Edge to check and update.
You should also try clearing your browser‘s cache and cookies which can accumulate tech issues over time:
- Chrome: Settings > Privacy and security > Clear browsing data > Clear data
- Firefox: History > Clear recent history
- Safari: Develop menu > Empty caches
- Edge: Settings > Privacy, search and services > Choose what to clear > Clear now
Restart your browser after updating and clearing data to refresh things completely. This can resolve many glitches.
3. Adjust Your Video Quality
YouTube automatically adjusts the video resolution quality based on your internet connection speed. If it detects a slow connection, it will lower the quality to compensate.
But sometimes this doesn‘t work perfectly. Try manually adjusting the video quality under the Settings menu in the bottom right corner of a YouTube video.
Lower quality requires less data to be buffered and downloaded continuously. 480p only needs 1.5 Mbps speed, so setting this should allow smooth playback on most connections.
Keep lowering the quality until you find the highest resolution you can stream without constant buffering interrupts. You can slowly increase it later to find the optimal setting.
4. Restart Your Device
The issue may lie with your computer, phone, tablet or streaming device rather than with YouTube itself. Completely restarting your device can clear out any software glitches causing video disruptions.
Make sure to also keep your operating system, browser and apps updated. Outdated software often has compatibility issues with streaming media.
Follow these steps to restart and update your device:
- Click the Start menu and select Restart
- Windows Update will automatically install new updates when available
- Apple menu > Restart
- System Preferences > Software Update
- Settings > General > Shut Down – Slide to power off
- Settings > General > Software Update
- Long press the Power button and select Restart
- Open the Play Store app and tap Menu > My apps & games > Update all
- Settings > Device > Restart
- Check for system updates under Settings > Device > About > Software version
- Go to Settings > System > Power > System restart
- Check for updates under Settings > System > System update
- Settings > System > Restart
- Settings > System > Software Updates
- Unplug the power cable for 30 seconds
- Update using the Google Home app on your phone
5. Try YouTube Alternatives
If you still experience playback failures after trying the above fixes, it may be an external issue on YouTube‘s end. Their servers sometimes encounter glitches. Rather than keep frustrating yourself, try streaming video from alternative sites instead.
A few good YouTube alternatives I recommend checking out:
Vimeo – Ad-free and creative community focused, with high quality streaming.
Dailymotion – Straightforward interface similar to classic YouTube. Massive video library.
Facebook Video – You can browse videos shared across all public Facebook pages.
Twitch – Best for live streaming gaming, but also has VOD video content.
Rumble – Emerging "free speech" alternative with no algorithmic manipulation.
The change of environment from YouTube could be just what you need if those cat videos still won‘t play! Install any apps needed for the platform on your streaming device or smart TV.
Don‘t Give Up!
I hope this guide gives you several quick fixes to get your YouTube videos playing again. Troubleshoot your internet connection, update software, adjust quality settings, restart devices and use alternatives if needed. With the wealth of video content on YouTube, not being able to watch what you want can be incredibly annoying. But have faith – with some patience and tweaking, you‘ll be streaming smoothly again in no time.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any other tips or tricks for fixing YouTube playback issues!