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For an estimated 20% of all YouTube videos I try to watch on one of my computers, I cannot get them to buffer at all. I will get the loading spinner, until about a minute later the player will say that "an error occured, please try again later."

I have ruled out a lot of possible causes and don't know where else to look.

  • It's not a general YouTube or video playback problem. I can watch the majority of YouTube videos fine. It's certain ones that I can't get to play no matter how often I retry. I haven't had any problems with video playback on other sites, although I rarely watch video outside of YouTube.
  • It's not a browser or extension problem. The videos that play fine, play in all browsers. Those that don't, won't load in any browser I have installed. In particular, I tried Firefox 32.0.3, Chrome 44.0.2403.130, and Opera 31.0.1889.99. I'm running Windows 7 Enterprise SP-1.
  • It's not a Flash player problem. The affected videos won't load in either the Flash player or the HTML5 player.
  • It's not an issue with a particular stream. None of the offered stream qualities will load, while for working videos, all of them load. (In particular, there's no difference between regular and DASH streams.)
  • It's not an issue with particular videos themselves. The same videos work fine if I play them from any other device. Also, on some other day it might be different videos that will not play, while previously broken ones work again.
  • It's not an ISP or connection issue. The computer in question is a corporate one, set up identically to other computers in the room which share the same connection. Other computers play all the videos fine without buffering problems. Mine seems to be the only one affected. There are no active software firewalls or local hosts files, and I'm using the same DNS as everybody else.
  • It doesn't seem to be a cache issue. I cleared all local data of the Flash player and all browsers. The problem persists, and still always for the same videos.
  • It's not a temporary issue, this has been going on for the 18 months I've used this computer.
  • Incidentally, I can also not get to any of the streams by using stream downloader plug-ins. They will get 0 Bytes and just time out.

What could be other possible causes for this issue, or what should I try doing to narrow in on the problem? My current workaround is to RDP to a different computer and watch the problematic video there, which is not the most comfortable of solutions.

Example for a video currently playing fine: Video 1
Example for a video currently not playing: Video 2

Some more observations: I noticed that on the pages of those videos that won't play, also none of the thumbnails of related videos will load. The browser status bar shows that there is no response from s.youtube.com nor s.ytimg.com. As before, though, on pages of other videos, both the stream and the thumbnails are served fine from the same servers. After a few hours, the affected video pages will be different ones.

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    Example links ? – pun Aug 11 '15 at 10:01
  • Upvote for trying lots of things and letting us know ;) – DavidPostill Aug 11 '15 at 10:43
  • Thanks :) I added two example links, although now I definitely confirmed that it's not always the same videos that won't play. One that didn't work yesterday now works fine (the computer wasn't rebooted, I didn't even close the browser in between). I edited the question accordingly. – Daniel Saner Aug 11 '15 at 12:44
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    The same thing rarely happens here too , like 2% of the time (2 videos out of 100). "please try again later" more like forget about it later :-) What if it is at thier end the server sees these requests over and over again be it working or retrying to buffer (fast connection), and it is blocking further requests for a while on thier end? That type of thing would not be the first time where "trying later" works. – Psycogeek Aug 11 '15 at 13:05
  • @Psycogeek That at some point it's YouTube blocking the requests would make a lot of sense, considering how seemingly nothing I do on my end makes a difference. That would still leave the question though, why does it only happen to me? About 20 people work with the same setups and connection here, and from talking to them, I seem to be the only one this happens to, at least this frequently... – Daniel Saner Aug 11 '15 at 13:30
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Given the information you've provided, you seem like a fairly competent person and simply need a little direction in how to troubleshoot this issue next, so I'll do just that. Normally, I'd add a comment and ask what I'm about to ask, then give an answer based on your response, but I think we can skip the former.

The only option you have available is to see exactly what is happening to the TCP connection as it fails. There are a couple ways to do this, ranging in complexity and detail. Given that you don't need a whole lot of detail, I'd recommend that you download and install Fiddler, which should provide enough information for you to narrow down what is causing this to happen. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. You said this is a corporate computer, so I'm assuming you're using some version of Windows and have local admin access to it so you can install new software.
  2. After installing Fiddler, you'll need to configure it to decrypt HTTPS sessions as YouTube (like most modern websites), defaults to HTTPS. If you can't figure out how to do this, use Google. I'm certain there is, ironically, a YouTube video showing you how to do this. In the off-chance that it is one of this videos that won't load, there's likely written instructions too.
  3. You may have to install and configure a browser extension for it to start picking up HTTP(S) data from your browser.
  4. Pay attention to the status code of the requests for the videos that do not load. That will help tell you if the conversation is dropping immediately, if it's the remote server dropping the connection, or something else all together.
  5. Past Fiddler, the next best utility you could install would be Wireshark, but it is a lot more complex and may be too much for you to navigate without help. Also, running it while on your company's corporate network may be a (serious) network security violation. You have been warned.

Lastly, if this is happening regardless of browser or network, that tells you that it is something specific to either the computer or your account (assuming you're logged into YouTube on both browsers). To rule out various possibilities, you could try creating another user account on the computer and log into it to see if this still happens. You could disable any firewall software/services that are running in the background. There's probably more you could do, but those are the two things that come to mind first. Good luck

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    Thank you very much for your instructions! What Fiddler tells me is that on affected video pages, all HTTP(S) requests to, among others, s.youtube.com, s.ytimg.com or subdomains of googlevideo.com return a 502 Bad Gateway status after about 30 seconds. If I'm interpreting that correctly, it would suggest the source of the problem lies beyond my own computer, somewhere into the network infrastructure of the company, wouldn't it? Maybe some failed caching attempts somewhere, although it wouldn't explain why only I seem to be affected (then again, my sample size isn't huge). – Daniel Saner Oct 6 '15 at 15:21
  • Hey Daniel, take a look at google.com/…. This doesn't necessarily indicate an issue with your company's network infrastructure. – Chris Olin Oct 6 '15 at 20:16
  • Also, theguardian.com/technology/askjack/2013/aug/01/… has some useful troubleshooting steps worth trying. – Chris Olin Oct 6 '15 at 20:20
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I ran into this today and found a workaround.

When a video does not a play click the 'next' button (between play and volume) and the next video works. Let it play for 3-4 seconds then go back in the browser then the previous video that was not working earlier will also start working.

I'm not on a corporate network and this happened on my home PC.

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