Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
If you ask me, Internet streaming is one of the best advancements in web technology I’ve ever experienced, at least when it comes to user experience. YouTube has made some serious strides in online video over the last decade – strides which can easily be overlooked and forgotten. But streaming will always suffer from a particular drawback – buffering.
Buffering isn’t just a problem for YouTube; services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO GO all have to buffer their on-demand content. But YouTube is, without a doubt, the largest video streaming site in the world – it’s hard to imagine a person who has Internet access yet hasn’t ever heard of it – which means there are a lot of people out there who complain about slow YouTube buffers.
The following tips may help you out if your YouTube experience has slowed down so much as to become an inconvenience.
Warning: These suggestions to speed up YouTube should only be pursued at your own discretion. I would never suggest something so dangerous or risky that I would never do it, but MakeUseOf claims no responsibility if you mess up your computer or Internet connection in any way after reading this article.
Join YouTube Feather Beta
Even though I’ve been an avid YouTube user for many years, I was surprised to learn about a hidden program called YouTube Feather. As far as I know, it was never really pushed to users in a public way; instead, it’s an “opt-in” feature that claims that it might be able to speed up your YouTube buffering. It’s an official YouTube program so there’s some real promise in it.
How does it work to speed up YouTube? By stripping away nearly every extraneous feature and implementing some advanced web techniques, YouTube reduces the amount of information being sent to you every time you view a video. This means that there’s more bandwidth allocated for actual video buffering. It’s basically a lightweight version of the service, hence the name YouTube Feather.
When you enable YouTube Feather, you: lose the ability to view and write comments; lose the ability to like or dislike videos; only see five related videos per page. I think that’s a pretty good trade for faster buffering. However, be aware that YouTube Feather is a work-in-progress so it may not work for all videos.
Bypass ISP Throttling
A few months ago, a guy named Mitch Ribar posted an interesting network tweak for Windows that makes some esoteric changes to the firewall which blocks a big range of IP addresses. I’ve seen this tip circulating around the Internet so I took a deeper look at it and, from what I can see, it should work for most users.
The technology behind it works like this. In an effort to preserve bandwidth, some ISPs will throttle bandwidth and download speeds on connections to servers that deliver cached video content, e.g., YouTube. The following command blocks IP addresses on this content delivering network, which forces YouTube to push the actual video straight to you (not the cached version) without any ISP throttling.
- Click Start, type cmd, right click on the icon and Run as Administrator to open the command prompt.
- If you see a UAC prompt, click Yes.
- Copy this command: netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name=”YoutubeBufferTrick” dir=in action=block remoteip=18.104.22.168/24,22.214.171.124/16 enable=yes
- Right click in the command prompt and select Paste.
- Hit Enter.
If you ever want to remove this alteration from your network, do the same thing except use this command instead:
- netsh advfirewall firewall delete rule name=”YoutubeBufferTrick”
Since this trick blocks a wide range of IP addresses, you may run into a site every once in a while that’s blocked by this trick. Use at your own discretion!
Routing Through a Different DNS
You may be able to speed up YouTube downloads by hooking up your Internet connection to a different DNS, like OpenDNS or Google Public DNS. There’s a lot that can be said on DNS optimization – far more than would fit in this article – so just know that it’s possible (not guaranteed) that changing DNS could improve your YouTube buffering speed.
Google claims that using its Public DNS service can actually enhance your Internet browsing speed by optimizing the traffic routes between you and your destination servers. But, they offer this caveat:
Note, however, that because nameservers geolocate according to the resolver’s IP address rather than the user’s, Google Public DNS has the same limitations as other open DNS services: that is, the server to which a user is referred might be farther away than one to which a local DNS provider would have referred. This could cause a slower browsing experience for certain sites.
The bottom line: this trick to speed up TouTube may or may not work for you. There’s no real way to know without going ahead and giving it a try.
At the end of the day, one truth remains: your YouTube buffering speed will always be capped by your actual Internet speed. If you have a lousy Basic Package from your ISP and your download rate is limited to snail speeds, you won’t be able to buffer faster than that. In other words, the only surefire way to improve your YouTube buffering speed is to upgrade your Internet plan.
But assuming you have a fast Internet connection already yet still suffer from poor buffering, you may be able to gain something from the tricks outlined above. Give them a try and report back to us to share your experience!
Image Credit: Network Routes Via Shutterstock