Improve YouTube Buffering, Performance & Speed on Windows PC

There are a lot of video streaming websites out there, and YouTube is without a doubt the most used video website on this planet. But recently I started having issues with YouTube buffering. I have a pretty decent connection, but still the YouTube videos will take forever to buffer – and this can be really frustrating when you are trying to watch something really important. Except YouTube all the other streaming sites worked just fine – for example Metacafe, Vimeo, etc. So I decided to do some troubleshooting to see if I could resolve this problem and improve YouTube buffering, performance and speed.

Improve YouTube Buffering, Performance, Speed

I found that like myself, there were thousands of people having this issue even with fast internet connections, and were looking for ways to improve YouTube Buffering and Speed. So I started researching on possible ways to speed up the buffering speed of YouTube. I found a few fixes that improved the buffering speed to an extent where it’s acceptable. The fixes I found is from various websites which some claim it works, and some claim otherwise so it’s more like a hit and miss.

Firewall Exceptions Trick:

I came across this website mitchribar.com where he has found out that certain ISP tends to throttle bandwidth from the server that caches videos which caused performance issues. So he found the relevant IP range and managed to block them with Windows Firewall, and in return improve the performance because then it doesn’t cache – but directly streams the video from the YouTube server. Personally I didn’t notice any difference, but seems like it helped a lot of users. This is how you can do it:

  • Go to Start Menu and type in CMD
  • Then Right click and click on Run as administrator
  • Then copy and paste the following command

netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name=”TWCYouTubeFIX” dir=in action=block remoteip=173.194.55.0/24,206.111.0.0/16 enable=yes

Improve YouTube Buffering, Performance, Speed

Now reboot the system and try to access YouTube and see if it works better. Remember it might take a little more time than usual to start the video because of IP blocking. But once it starts it might be faster. If you want to remove this rule, just type the following and hit Enter:

netsh advfirewall firewall delete rule name=”TWCYouTubeFIX”

Activate Hidden Services on YouTube

There are few services that may help with YouTube buffering. I’ll list like two of the most popular ones that may help you with buffering issues.

YouTube Feather Service

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I was surprised to learn that YouTube has a hidden opt-in project called YouTube Feather.

Basically, this project is a light weight YouTube version. It removes all the un-necessary things like Sharing options, Likes & Dislikes etc. and just give you the player alone. Without these unnecessary things, it promises to deliver a better performance. The description also says it uses some advanced web technologies that reduce the amount of bytes used.

To join this project just click on Join the “Feather” Beta, and you’re done. Now check YouTube again, you’ll find the difference! If you’re not happy with the setup just go back to the same page and leave the beta.

YouTube HTML Based Player

Some of you may already be aware of the HTML 5 based YouTube player.

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The YouTube HTML 5 based player basically make use of the latest HTML5 based technology to play videos. This means that instead of Flash Player, it uses it uses HTML5. In theory, it may not make much difference, but I noticed a few  improvements. But not all videos will work with it, and there might be still a few videos that need to use a Flash based player. Most of the popular players do support HTML5 based browser engines like Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Firefox, etc. to name a few.

Disable DASH Playback on YouTube

This tip is for those whole have low internet speed and want to buffer the full video first, and then watch it. YouTube uses something called Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH). DASH enables high quality streaming of media content over the Internet, delivered from conventional HTTP web servers. It works by breaking the content into a sequence of small HTTP-based file segments, each segment containing a short interval of playback time of a content. So you may notice that YouTube won’t buffer the video when you pause it. It will just buffer that file segment alone and not the entire video. On YouTube DASH playback is enabled by default.

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To bypass this method I discovered a plugin called YouTube Center. There are a lot of features in this plugin. It also offers the option to disable DASH playback. This plugin works on most of the popular browser. Remember – use this plugin at your own risk. On the home page of YouTube Center, you’ll find the list of features, downloads and a Wiki on how to use the plugin.

Final Words

There are few other tips out there like using custom DNS servers, and so on. But most of these techniques are hit and miss, and only a very few users reported that it works, so I haven’t included them in this article. You must check your Internet Speed first, through some sites like speedtest.net also visit pingtest.net and take the Ping test to make sure you have a good connection, because most of the tips are for those who have a good connection, and still having issues buffering YouTube.

I hope you find this article helpful. If you know of any way to improve the buffering speed do tell us under the comments section.

Go here if you are looking for some Browser extensions to improve YouTube Streaming.

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Shyam aka “Captain Jack” is a Microsoft MVP alumnus and a Windows Enthusiast with an interest in Advanced Windows troubleshooting. Suggestions made and opinions expressed by him here are his personal one's and not of his current employers. He blogs at captaindbg.com.