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YouTube team working on fix for major buffering issues affecting users

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‘We're fixing one thing that may be causing this’

buffering Shutterstock

If you’ve tried to watch a YouTube video or tune in to a stream in the past couple of days, you may have been left staring at a buffering icon as the video attempts to load.

No, this isn’t a protest from Google over the Federal Communications Commission’s recent vote to repeal net neutrality. YouTube is aware of the problem, according to one engineer on Reddit, and is working on isolating the cause of the problem so the team can repair it.

Christopher Schmidt, who works on YouTube’s engineering team, replied to a thread on the YouTube subreddit full of complaints from people who were having signifiant problems trying to watch videos. Schmidt noted the problems people were having were “unlikely to be related to any kind of throttling.”

“Anyone having problems, right click on the player, click ‘Get Debug Info’, and paste the result, after a bad experience,” Schmidt wrote. “We're fixing one thing that may be causing this, but any debug info I can get will help ensure that we're catching all of 'em. Thanks.”

Issues raised in the subreddit range from problems loading a video, even when running at an incredibly low frame rate, to not being able to load a livestream at all. One user noted that the buffering had become so bad, they had stopped watching YouTube altogether.

“Been having major issues, to the point where I pretty much don't bother watching anything,” they wrote on Reddit. “I don't seem to experience any issues on other sites though, and I tested without any extensions to no avail.”

User complaints about buffering problems on YouTube have continued yesterday and earlier this morning. One streamer who goes by Tremily on YouTube noted on Twitter that the problems experienced during one stream didn’t appear in the playback video when uploaded and played back, adding that the stream quality was so poor at the time, they had to stop and apologize to viewers.

“Basically, without dropping frames or my stream health dropping on YouTube, people are missing entire sections of the stream due to what seem to be massive buffering skips,” Tremily wrote on Twitter.

Although the issue seems to have mostly affected livestreams on YouTube, playback video was also hit, Schmidt said. He later announced on Twitter that the team believed that it has “mitigated the problem for now,” linking to a Google Doc page where users experiencing problems could post their debug code.

Schmidt confirmed that “buffering complaints from some users on streams Friday/Saturday were almost certainly on YouTube's side,” but wouldn’t explain what the direct cause of the problem was. Polygon has reached out to YouTube for more information.

If you’re still experiencing problems with buffering, the Google Doc is still editable and active. Copy and paste your debug script into the field and submit it for review.

Update: A YouTube representative told Polygon “A small number of people experienced a slower than normal experience on YouTube this weekend. We worked quickly to address the issue and fixed the problem. We're sorry for any inconvenience this caused.”