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How do I prevent auto-download or auto-start video?

It seems more and more websites are now including a video in their
page that starts downloading and I can’t stop it without leaving that
page. How can I prevent automatic video downloads and stay on that
page?

The short answer is that you can’t. At least not without some
drastic measures.

I have a few videos on my site that fall into this category, and I
need to clean them up. I spent some time recently looking for a player
that would start downloading only when you hit “play”.

But that’s just me, on my web site.

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Web video’s been around a while, but it’s only recently taken off in
immense popularity in the last year or two. Since it’s still so new,
web site designers and implementers are still figuring out what works
and what doesn’t which means making mistakes along the way.

There are many, many different players that web site owners can use
to embed video on their sites. The most common you’ve probably seen is
the one that YouTube uses. It behaves as you and I want: it shows you
that there is a video, but nothing is downloaded until you push
play.

Unfortunately, a lot of web site owners don’t do it that way. Some
might feel that their video is so important that it must begin playing
the instant you hit the play button. The only way that can happen is if
it’s already started downloading.

Even worse are those sites that insist on auto-playing video. They
must feel that their video is SO important that it should start playing
as soon as you visit the page. Auto-play video (and audio) is, in my
opinion, a huge mistake. I’ve been startled too many times by sudden
sound that I wasn’t expecting. I can only imagine how parents of small
formerly-sleeping children might feel about the sudden unrequested
explosion of noise.

The problem is that there’s little that can be done, at least
directly. Certainly you can, and should, let the web site owners know.
You can also “vote with your feet” and not return if you don’t like the
way a web site behaves. But that’s unfortunate, and can prevent you
from visiting sites you might otherwise enjoy.

One solution is, of all things, the NoScript plugin for FireFox.

Almost all the common video players are also blocked by NoScript. As
a result, until you explicitly allow a site using NoScript, the players
won’t even show. Not showing means they can’t download, and of course
they can’t auto play.

Yes, it requires switching to FireFox, and yes, it’s a backhanded
solution to a problem that really should be dealt with more correctly
by website owners, but it works.

Now I need to go fix a few videos myself…

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7 comments on “How do I prevent auto-download or auto-start video?”

  1. Another useful add-on for Firefox is Flashblock. I’m not sure if all of the auto play videos are related to Flash player, but many are, and Flashblock gives you total and reasonably easy control over flash. It also stops the use of Flash in a lot of banners etc. Seems to help with overall browser stability too as it keeps Flash from eating up system resources…

    Reply
  2. The “sleeping children” problem is why I do most of my computer work with the speakers off. If there is something I want to hear and/or see, then I turn them on for just that video.

    And it saves power! LoL

    Reply
  3. There’s another kind of video player out there I’ve run into that causes Firefox to hang up. The video starts playing so I immediately quit Firefox. It doesn’t quit. The video does quit but I have to Ctrl+Alt+Del to get Firefox to clean itself up. Maybe the problem is with Firefox — don’t know.

    Reply

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