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Your YouTube videos are too slow. Here's how to fix it

These tips will help speed up videos on YouTube.

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Don't let a buffering video slow you down.

Angela Lang/CNET

When you're super interested in a new video your favorite YouTuber just released, the last thing you want to deal with is buffering or a playback error. It's annoying, it's frustrating and it can be fixed. If you're constantly seeing notifications saying an error has occurred, the connection to the server was lost or something else went wrong, then it's time to do something about it. 

Whether you're connected to Wi-Fi or using your carrier's mobile network, there are several tricks you can use to help you get the YouTube video back on track.

Read: Best vlogging cameras and accessories for YouTube  

Before getting started, make sure you've updated to the latest version of YouTube to make sure there isn't a bug slowing the video. Here's how to find the issue and make your videos run quicker.

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Keep your videos running smoothly with these tips.

Illustration by CNET

Clear your cache

If your browser's cache is too full, it can cause loading issues while you're watching videos. To get the best experience, start by clearing your cache.

1. Open Chrome on your phone, desktop or tablet.

2. Tap the three stacked dots menu.

3. On your computer, click More Tools > Clear Browsing Data. On your phone, tap History > Clear browsing data.

4. If you're using a Mac, PC or Android device, select a time range at the top or choose All time to delete everything. If you're on an iPhone ($999 at Amazon), skip to the next step.

5. Check the boxes next to Cookies and site data and Cached images and files.

6. Tap Clear data. Note that when you clear the data, you may have to sign back into your Google account.

Now playing: Watch this: Tips and tricks to master YouTube TV
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Figure out what the issue is

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Stats for nerds on desktop.

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

YouTube has a tool called Stats for nerds that shows you detailed statistics of your connection speed, buffer health and network activity while you're streaming videos. The tool won't necessarily make your video play smoother, but it will help you figure out where the problem may be. 

In a desktop browser

1. While watching a YouTube video in a browser window, right-click the player.

2. Select Stats for nerds.

3. A Stats for nerds window will pop up in the top left corner of the video window. You'll be able to see the connection speed, network activity and buffer health. While some of the details are intended to help developers troubleshoot video issues, you can get a sense if bandwidth or buffering issues may be a problem.  

In the YouTube app on your phone

1. Tap the account icon in the top right corner.

2. iPhone: Select Settings and toggle on Enable stats for nerds

Android: Tap Settings > General > Enable Stats for nerds.

3. Select a video to watch, and tap the three stacked dots menu.

4. Tap Stats for nerds. The stats will appear in the middle of the screen, and you can move the box anywhere on the screen.

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Make sure your internet speed is compatible with the video you're watching.

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Change the quality of the video

Once you see your connection speed, you'll want to make sure it matches up to YouTube's recommended sustained speed for acceptable video playback. For example, if the video is playing at 720p, you need to have at least 2.5 Mbps. If it's anything less, you should probably switch to a lower resolution.

If you choose a lower resolution on a video you're viewing, it should run smoother. It won't look as great, but at least you won't have to worry about it buffering. 

To change the quality of the video in the YouTube app on your phone, tap the three stacked dots menu, tap the Quality menu and select a resolution. 

In a browser window on your desktop, tap the Settings menu, then tap Quality and make a selection.

Try using YouTube Premium

If you're still struggling with getting your videos to load, try YouTube Premium. The perk is being able to download videos to watch offline when you have a poor connection. Therefore, you won't have to watch a video that buffers every five seconds. You can try it free for one month and see if you think it's worth keeping for $12 per month.

Want to know more about using YouTube? Check out these six YouTube tricks you didn't know about for watching videos on your TV.

Originally published this morning.

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