We’ve all been there: You’re watching a YouTube video, it suddenly pauses and starts buffering, especially when the video starts to get good. This problem is not uncommon and happens to all of us.
Sometimes the problem is at the end of YouTube, whether they have a hiccup or the servers are down, but usually if the internet connections are spotty the problem is on the users side and the videos and splashes.
Fortunately, before you throw YouTube videos out the window, there are things you can try to make them play better on your computer or mobile device. We’ll give you a few tips, but first it’s important to know the basics of video streaming and how YouTube videos end up on your computer.
How YouTube Videos Work
There’s a lot of confusing stuff going on behind the scenes of sending a YouTube video from Google’s servers to your computer, but what you really need to know is how watching YouTube videos affect your internet connection. Video files take up storage space; You probably know this because after saving so many videos on your smartphone it starts to fill up and eventually you have to free up storage space.
YouTube videos are no different, and while they are stored on YouTube servers, they continue to use your internet bandwidth so that they can be transmitted from YouTube servers to your computer. This essentially means that when watching a YouTube video, YouTube will gradually send the data needed to play the video (so you don’t have to download it all first and then watch it. This is called streaming).
If your internet connection can’t keep up with it, the video you’re watching will start bouncing and buffering, causing inconvenience when you tap your hand next to your monitor to magically get it working again. .
What You Can Do to Fix Buffering Issues
There are a few things you can try to alleviate most YouTube buffering issues, most of them really easy and some that may require a little extra effort on your part.
If YouTube videos are scattering, check if there is anything else on your home network that can increase bandwidth. You may not know this, but your kids or a roommate may already be watching their own YouTube videos, and many internet connections can only handle so much bandwidth.
If that’s the case, politely ask them to stop so you can watch your YouTube videos really quickly, or it could be a real evil and block IP addresses from accessing the internet, although this does require some network finesse.
A wired connection is always faster and more reliable than a wireless connection, so if you are having trouble with YouTube videos playing well, connect your laptop to ethernet to get the best possible connection.
If you can’t connect to ethernet because you’re on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet, the best thing to do is sit closer to the router. The further you go from the router, the weaker your internet connection is, especially if there are walls between you and the router.
Sitting closer to the router improves your internet connection and can be the difference between buffering, blasting video and smooth HD content playback.
Usually, we don’t recommend users to update their software to fix a buffering YouTube video, but sometimes it can work. Updating your web browser and other pieces of software that handles video (like Adobe Flash) can fix any issues you’re having with unstable video, but most of the time it’s just an internet connection issue.
If none of the above is working, restarting your router and/or your computer or mobile device can give everything a fresh start. Restarting a router is still good to do every few weeks because it cleans up any accumulated internet remnants (obviously there’s a more technical term for it).
When you reboot a router, it is recommended that you do a thorough shutdown of it for at least 30 seconds and unplug it from the power source. Then plug it back in and turn it on. You’ll want to give it a few minutes to reboot completely, but when it starts working again, you’ll be greeted with a new internet connection where you no longer have to spray YouTube videos.