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Why Is a 4K Video Lagging on YouTube?


4K, or Ultra HD, is becoming the new video standard. More content creators and film producers are shooting and posting their videos in 4K because people are desperate to watch the clearest and crisp content they can. 

So it’s very annoying when you start to watch a video in 4K only for it to lag the entire time. What’s the point of switching your quality to 4K if it’s going to compromise your viewing experience? 

There are a few potential reasons why watching 4K videos is unpleasant. Here’s what you need to know about 4K on YouTube and how to make the most of it. 

Why Is a 4K Video Lagging on YouTube? 

To start, you need to determine what the source of the issue is.

Is it the browser you’re using? Your computer? Or is YouTube having an issue?

It might even just be a simple connection issue.

Is It a Browser Issue? 

Safari app on a smart device

If you have two browsers on your computer, switch over to the other one and see if the problem persists.

Occasionally, Google Chrome has issues with loading 4K YouTube videos, so keep this in mind if you begin having problems while using the browser. 

Remember, Safari does not load 4K videos at all. Therefore, testing out your YouTube video quality on the Apple browser will be inefficient. Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox are all better options. 

Is It a YouTube Issue? 

Youtube website

Once you’ve determined your browser isn’t the issue, you can move onto seeing if YouTube is down.

This can be done with a simple internet search. Google does a good job keeping YouTube up and running, but functions are still compromised occasionally. 

Is It a Computer Issue? 

A boy watching video on laptop

Now, let’s move onto determining if there’s an issue with your computer.

Check how much storage you have left on your computer. 4K videos are quite large, so if your computer doesn’t have enough space to process all that information, it will lag. 

Generally, you want to aim for at least 2 gigabytes of free storage on your computer at all times. Any less may end up affecting the functions of your computer. 

Is It an Internet Issue? 

Connect smartphone with Wifi

Sometimes all you need to do is determine how good your internet is. Loading a 4K video takes a strong internet connection, so if you don’t have that, you will experience lagging. 

Speedtest.net is a straightforward website that helps you determine how fast your internet signal is. 

Once you go through this checklist, you should be able to pinpoint where the source of the issue is. 

How Can I Play 4K Smoothly on YouTube? 

Here are a few ways to improve your viewing experience when watching 4K videos on YouTube. 

Connect to an Ethernet Cable 

Ethernet Cable on a keyboard

If you think your internet connection is causing the issue, the best thing to do is connect to your router via an Ethernet cable.

Ethernet cables give you an interrupted internet connection because you don’t have to rely on signals being transmitted via Wi-Fi. 

Don’t have an Ethernet cable? Try rebooting your router and see if this helps. It might be all you need to kick-start your internet. 

Disable Flash on Chrome

Chrome has a built-in Flash that can make 4K videos lag or choppy. Flash is a helpful addition to a website because it “displays text, vector graphics, and raster graphics to provide animations, video games, and applications.” However, when it comes to YouTube, it may hurt more than help. 

To disable Flash, type “chrome://plugins” into your Chrome browser, then scroll down to “Adobe Flash Player.” Afterward, disable it. This should help your YouTube video play smoothly. 

Download the YouTube Video

A man watching Youtube on smartphone

This is a simple solution, but it’s incredibly effective. Downloading a YouTube video in Ultra HD 4K will ensure that it doesn’t lag and plays in 4K the entire time.

There are several websites where you can go to download YouTube videos, just make sure that you choose what quality you want the video in. 

The only thing to keep in mind when you do this is how much storage space you have. You may want to delete the video after watching it to keep your disk clear. 

Clear Up Your Disk 

Clean up PC disk

Is your computer too full? Are most of the files and pictures on it completely unneeded? It may be time to clear out your computer disk. 

This will significantly improve your computer functions, including streaming videos on YouTube. Videos and images take up the most room on a disk, so go through those first and delete what you can. 

Alternatively, you can get OneDrive or iCloud and transfer things over there. That way, you’ll be able to keep all your files without storing them on your physical hard drive. 

In Conclusion 

A woman watching Anime

While 4K on YouTube is still relatively new, you still should be able to enjoy watching in the high resolution without regular interruptions. Remember, you cannot watch 4K YouTube videos on Safari at all, so use a different browser if using 4K is a priority. 

Have a look at our troubleshooting solutions and see which one will work best for your situation. At the end of the day, downloading the video in 4K might be the simplest option. 

Have you had a lot of trouble watching YouTube videos in 4K? What’s your go-to solution?

Let us know in the comments below! 

Good luck!


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