YouTube is one of the best sites for video content. However, videos can sometimes end up freezing or pausing, and sometimes it's hard to know why.
There can also be the issue of videos playing for a short time without sound, no matter what you do to your volume settings. But how do you fix it? We've rounded up everything you need to know. You can also check out our guide on how to download YouTube videos.
How to unfreeze YouTube video
Check your broadband
Make sure it's not a slow internet connection causing the problem. If other people in the house are watching Netflix, playing games and doing other things which could be using up a lot of the bandwidth, this is a quick answer to the problem.
You can also use broadband speed checkers such as Speedtest.net to quickly find out how fast your broadband is currently running. You'll want at least a couple of megabits per second for a single stream of HD video, and more if several people are using the connection at the same time.
If you have lower speeds and other people need the internet, try dropping the quality of the video you're watching by toggling the wheel icon as seen on the example below. This should be set to 'auto', but you can drop it lower to avoid buffering. However, there will be a decrease in the picture quality.
Refresh the YouTube page or browser
Sometimes, there's a simple error in the player, which can be solved by simply refreshing the page you're on, or closing and re-opening the app.
Restart your device
If it's not that, try restarting your PC, laptop, phone or tablet. This fixes a surprising number of problems, but is often forgotten in the heat of the moment when you're experiencing a problem. For phones and tablets, hold down the power button until you see an option to restart or power off.
Try a different browser or app
Similarly, try watching the YouTube video via a different browser or app, just in case it's the software causing the issue.
YouTube itself uses HTML5 as the default way to play videos, having dropped Flash back in 2015. So it shouldn't be Adobe Flash that's causing your problem. But just to double-check that this isn't the case, head to Control Panel > Programs and then Uninstall a Program. The list is presented in alphabetical order, so you should see Adobe Flash player near the top if it's installed.
Since virtually nothing uses Flash any longer, there's no harm in uninstalling it, and you'll actually protect your PC from its security risks by removing it. You can always reinstall it again if you need it for something.
If your YouTube problem goes away after this, it was almost certainly Flash causing the issue.
Firefox and Chrome YouTube tips
If the problem is persisting, there may be an issue with the browser you're using. Here's some things to try out:
Clear your browser cache
Web pages consistently freezing, slowing or crashing in your browser may be down to the fact that you've not cleared your cache out, and it's become full.
To clear your cache, all you need to do is head into your browser history, select all the files in your history that are cached (you may have to change the data range), and then delete them.
Here's how to do it in both Firefox and Chrome:
- If using Firefox, click on the three horizontal lines in the top right, select Library > History > Clear Recent History, change the date range to Everything, and then select Clear Now
- If using Google Chrome, click on the three dots in the top right, select More Tools > Clear browsing data > Advanced, change the date range to All Time, make sure both Cookies and other site data and Cache images and files are selected, then select Clear Data
Disable hardware acceleration
Hardware acceleration is typically automatically turned on in your browser in order to allow programmes to run more efficiently. However, it can also cause some hiccups, including occasionally making YouTube freeze.
To try and solve the issue, you can disable hardware acceleration in your browser.
In Firefox click the three horizonal lines at the top right, go to Options > Advanced > General.
In the second section called Browsing uncheck Use Hardware Acceleration when available.
Unchecking this doesn’t seem to have any big impact on Firefox or video performance. Similarly, though, if Hardware Acceleration is not ticked, try enabling it.
It's almost identical in Chrome. Click the three dots at the top right of your browser page, then choose Settings. Use the search box and type 'hardware', and uncheck Use hardware acceleration when available.
Disable browser add-ons
If you use a lot of extensions in your browser, then some may be clashing with one another, and consequently causing YouTube to stop working. Here's how to disable them:
- In Firefox, click on the three horizontal lines in the top right of the page, select Add-ons, and then choose the extensions and plug-ins you wish to disable
- In Google Chrome, type chrome://extensions/ into the URL bar and remove the extensions you want
Make sure you then restart your browser, and try YouTube again to see if the problem is fixed.
Check your browser is up to date
Finally the last thing you can try is checking for updates in your browser. If you're using an old version, this can sometimes cause problems with YouTube. Here's what you need to do:
- In Firefox, click on the three horizontal lines in the top right of the page and select About Firefox. The browser should then download any updates automatically
- In Chrome, click the three dots at the top right of the page and select Settings > About Chrome. The browser should then download any updates automatically