Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for my weekly newsletter, "Confident Computing", for more solutions you can use to make your life easier. Click here.

Why do Youtube videos start and stop when they didn’t used to?

//
I’ve used Mozilla to enjoy YouTube videos for years without problems. Now, I get lots of stops and starts. I checked your article on this and didn’t find out how or why the videos played faithfully before but not now. The problem started about a month ago. AT&T wants me to upgrade. Well, why would I pay more for something that I’ve enjoyed for years. I’m running Windows 7 and I’ve tried both IE 9 and Mozilla 25 with the same results. I even tried a different computer. I’ve emptied my cache and deleted my cookies; checked my browser speeds and so forth. So what’s happening? Is using the internet becoming more demanding of our resources? I could not even watch your videos without starts and stops. Am I going to be forced to pay AT&T more for something I’ve already enjoyed for years?

Progress is wonderful but it can also be kind of painful. And personally, I feel your pain. Or more specifically, my pocketbook shares your pain. A megabit per second just isn’t what it used to be. But let’s look at what you can do before you start shelling out more money.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

How many devices?

The very first thing to consider is to think about how many devices are sharing your internet connection.

A few years ago, only a couple of computers were sharing my home router. Now I’ve got multiple computers, tablets, gaming devices, smartphones and even a television or two sharing my bandwidth.

If other devices are doing something on the internet while you’re watching your videos, that can impact what you’re watching. In other words, it can slow down your connection.

How many programs?

The same is true for software running on your machine.

Lots of software now assumes internet connectivity and if present, uses it. So check what applications are running on your machine to see if any of them are accessing the network.

My article “How do I monitor network activity on my Windows 7 machine?” is a good place to start. It will walk you through using a tool to identify which programs on your computer are actually trying to connect to the internet and even transferring data.

Browsers, malware and more

Switching browsers is a good idea, at least as an experiment. I’d also look to see what add-ons are installed in those browsers and perhaps try disabling them.

And of course, malware could easily be causing this. A spam bot could, for example, be using your internet bandwidth to send spam and again; what’s leftover for you then would appear to be slower.  I’m going to assume that that’s not the case, but it is something worth checking out.

YouTube Quality

Changing YouTube’s video quality settings may help.

YouTube tries to guess what quality of video is appropriate for your internet connection speed. In my experience, not only are more and more videos on YouTube of higher quality (requiring more data transfer), but YouTube’s guess as to what is appropriate for you connection is often off the mark. To choose your own video quality setting, click on the little gear symbol in the video’s control bar, and then select a quality that is lower than the one you’re currently experiencing problems with.

YouTube Quality Control

Lower quality might mean a fuzzier picture, but it also means less data moving through your internet connection, and thus a greater possibility that it can actually keep up.

Technology is indeed advancing and assuming that we have more bandwidth than we used to. What was fast years ago is only adequate today and will clearly be insufficient tomorrow.

Like I said, progress is awesome; it’s amazing what we can do these days. But, it can also be a little painful.

6 comments on “Why do Youtube videos start and stop when they didn’t used to?”

  1. I’ve had this same problem, except I use Chrome. It started about 4-6 weeks ago. All of my router connections are working. My brother’s computer doesn’t have this problem, and he uses the router that mine does. I’ve ran many scans with Avast (boot-scans also), Malwarebytes, Spybot S&D, etc. Nothing has been detected. Everything is updated and working, including Flash and the like. I don’t have these video problems on any site – only Youtube. (Actually nfl.com lags a bit, but is watchable). I have K9 Web Protection filter, so I uninstalled it to see if it was the problem, but it was not. I’ve tried so many “fixes” but nothing has worked. Right now the only browser that will play Youtube videos mostly correct on my computer is Internet Explorer (but I’d rather use Chrome).

    P.S. – I’ve also tried disabling hardware acceleration, but still nothing has changed.

    • Just a trouble shooting idea. Try turning your brother’s computer off, and see if that makes your connection better. Another idea is to try running yours from his location. You may have some some interference in your location.

  2. Those are all good ideas but in todays environment, to number one answer is that the bandwidth is being throttled in an effort to extort more money from their customers.

  3. I’ve seen this too across many situations.
    My best guess so far, is that flash has been updating constantly and is now optimized for higher resolution and higher speed connections. Even if you turn down the quality, the newer version of flash is more resource intensive in any case.

    Related to that, I now see flash maxing out my (admittedly older) computers’ CPU’s anytime I play youtube or streaming flash videos. This is on machines that used to work fine at the same resolution and much poorer connections years back.

    Run a utility that shows cpu usage and check this too, but I suspect that it’s some sort of additional overhead that newer versions of flash carry.

  4. i only get stop starts on one place .com .I listen to gospel audios, and if I hit the pause and then run it works but sometimes it happens over and over. I didnt get this till I tried to buy driver booster and it went to something else. anyway ive had nothing but trouble ever sense. also everything is loading slower. don’t know what to do.

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.