How to Test YouTube Speed
By Aaron Parson
The speed of your Internet connection to YouTube determines how long it takes to load videos. With a low speed, videos may pause to buffer repeatedly. If you know you have a slow connection, you can lower the video resolution to watch without interruptions. If you feel your connection is running slower than usual, however, look up your YouTube speed history or check your current streaming speed.
YouTube Speed History
YouTube automatically tracks your connection speed any time you watch videos while logged in to your Google account. Visit the YouTube Video Speed History page to see results averaged over the last 30 days. The page contains a bar graph comparing your average speed to that of other subscribers to your Internet server provider, other users in your region and globally. You can also see a line graph showing average speeds over the past month.
Speed History Notes
The YouTube Video Speed History page tracks speed by both account and IP address. If your IP address changes, as can occur when browsing from a different location or after a modem reset, your stats may not carry over. If you log into a Google account without viewing history or log out of your account, the page will only show generic averages without personal information.
Live Streaming Stats
In addition to your speed history, you can check the current streaming speed on any YouTube video as you watch it. Right-click the video player and click "Stats for nerds." As the video plays, read the line beginning "TagStreamPlayer, HTTP." The number on this line shows your current streaming speed in kilobits per second. This measurement will not necessarily test your connection's maximum speed, however -- lower-resolution videos do not contain enough data to max out high-speed connections continually. For a more accurate test, check the speed while watching a video that offers the "Original" resolution setting.
Tracking Slow Connections
If you experience slow loading on YouTube videos, run a regular speed test on a testing website. If YouTube's tests find your connection far slower than other tests, you have a poor connection to the site. In most cases, these problems occur at remote servers and resolve without your intervention. Changing your DNS server may help by forcing your computer to connect to a different YouTube server -- most DNS servers provided by ISPs can tell YouTube your location, thus providing a nearby server, but services such as OpenDNS do not have this information, potentially causing poor streaming connections.
Aaron Parson has been writing about electronics, software and games since 2006, contributing to several technology websites and working with NewsHour Productions. Parson holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.