How Long Does it Take to Upload Videos Onto YouTube?

By Kevin Lee

Upload videos to YouTube from any location that has Internet access.
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Regardless of how fast your blazing Internet connection is, it’s going to take time for YouTube to receive your video and process it. Multiple factors affect the speed at which your upload occurs. You can’t change how quickly YouTube servers receive your data, but you can do some things to get your videos to those servers faster.

File Size Factors

Upload and download speeds vary according to the amount of data you're transferring. When you save a video file, for example, your video-editing program often gives you an option to choose a particular file format. Some formats produce larger files while others produce smaller ones. You may be familiar with the WMV formats because Windows Movie Maker, a popular video-editing program, saves files in that format and Windows Media Player reads them. WMV, MPEG-4 and other compressed video formats upload faster than high-definition files.

High-Definition Video

High-definition videos produce cleaner, sharper images, but they also result in larger file sizes because they contain more digital information. Google recommends uploading high-definition video files if you want your videos to produce the highest quality. Another benefit of uploading high-definition videos is your ability to upgrade your videos when YouTube makes new video formats available. Review the documentation that comes with your video-editing software to determine how to save videos in high-definition format and be prepared to wait longer for YouTube to publish your video.

Data Transfer Speeds

Even when you know how large your video files are, you can’t always predict how long it will take for them to move from your hard drive to any Web server on the Internet. Internet speeds may vary during the day and network congestion can cause uploads to fluctuate at random times. Your connection speed also influences your upload speed. A slower dial-up takes longer to upload a large video file than a fast broadband connection. If you have a slow connection and need to upload a video faster, you can always copy the file to an external drive and upload it using a computer that has a faster Internet connection.

Determining Connection Speed

One way to get an idea of your average upload speed is to visit a site such as Digital Landing, ZDNet or Speedtest and test your connection’s upload speed. If your upload speed is 512 Kbps, for instance, you can calculate how long a file would take to upload under perfect conditions if you know your video file’s size. Determine its file size by finding it in Windows Explorer, right-clicking the file and selecting “Properties.” The Size section in the Properties window will show you the file size information.


If you don’t want to calculate upload times, visit a calculator site, such as T1shopper, and enter your file’s size and file upload speed in the text boxes provided. The T1shopper site shows you how long your upload will take under ideal conditions. Google notes that processing times vary once your video arrives at YouTube. It could take minutes to hours for processing to complete. High-resolution files take longer to process than lower-resolution videos. Google also recommends removing your video from YouTube and uploading it again if you see a status message that says "Processing, Please Wait" eight hours after uploading your video.