Why YouTube Suddenly Won't Download

By Andrew Schrader

Troubleshoot your Web browser to fix YouTube problems.
i John Howard/Photodisc/Getty Images

Troubleshooting YouTube can be a sometimes long and frustrating process, especially if you watch videos as part of your work. If YouTube suddenly refuses to download video, making it impossible for you view it, you may temporarily have a slow Internet connection, or the problem could be specific to the video, your browser or your computer. Troubleshoot your Web browser and your network's security settings to isolate the issue.

YouTube Quality Settings

If you are suddenly unable to watch YouTube videos, you may be trying to watch a high-definition video with a slow Internet connection. YouTube automatically loads videos on an "Auto" setting that chooses the best quality video for your player; however, it may choose too high a quality setting for your Internet connection. Refresh the page and change the YouTube video's quality to the lowest setting by clicking the gear icon near the bottom right corner of the video player. You can also set YouTube to never play high-definition video by navigating to your Settings page and selecting the "“I have a slow connection. Never play higher-quality video" option.

Cache Settings

Websites often use cookies and cached data to remember personal settings and speed up the time it takes to load pages. If YouTube suddenly will not play video, it might be due to corrupted settings; to troubleshoot this issue, delete your cookies and clear your entire Web history. After clearing your cache, restart your browser and try to load the video again.

Browser and Plugin Upgrades

It is important to upgrade your Web browser to the latest version and install any updates, as old browsers may not be fully compatible with certain YouTube features. Check that all your add-ons and plugins are updated to their latest versions, as outdated or corrupted extensions can conflict with normal browsing functions. For example, Flash Player is required for YouTube playback; Google Support states that older versions may cause problems playing video.

Enable JavaScript

Although JavaScript is usually turned on automatically in most Web browsers, you or someone you share a computer with may have disabled it. JavaScript is a programming tool that allows sites to display interactive content. It is not an add-on or extension, but is rather built into most browsers. Check your browser's support page to see how to enable JavaScript in your browser.

Security Settings

It's also possible that your firewall, pop-up blocking or anti-virus settings may be preventing YouTube from loading videos. If you are in an office setting with other online computers, check to see if other computers can load YouTube. If not, contact your network administrator to see if you can change your network settings, as they may be preventing YouTube connections or playback of Flash media. If you are at home, temporarily disable your security settings and retest playback to check if your settings are causing the download problem.