Why Is YouTube Not Working & How To Fix It?

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Have you ever experienced the sinking feeling that comes when you excitedly click on a YouTube video, only to be confronted with the ominous "Something went wrong" error message? Or perhaps the video loads but is endlessly buffering, the quality is terrible, or there‘s no sound at all.

You‘re not alone my friend. Even though YouTube is the biggest video platform on the planet, used by over 2 billion logged-in users per month, it still runs into technical difficulties from time to time.

In this comprehensive troubleshooting guide, I‘ll walk you through the various reasons why YouTube might not be working properly and show you how to get it back up and running.

By the end, you‘ll be armed with all the tools and knowledge needed to fix common YouTube problems so you can get back to bingeing videos in no time!

Why YouTube Goes Down

Before we dig into troubleshooting, let‘s first understand some of the key reasons why YouTube may stop working. This will give helpful context for why certain fixes may be required:

Site Traffic Overload

YouTube serves over 1 billion hours of video each day. All that traffic inevitably puts strain on their servers, especially during peak evening hours, and can cause slow loading or downtime.

Software Bugs

When YouTube developers push buggy code updates, it can inadvertently break things and cause site outages.

Cyber Attacks

As the world‘s largest video site, YouTube is a prime target for DDoS attacks and other malicious efforts to take the site offline.

Hardware Failures

Power outages, network disruptions, or data center equipment failures can knock YouTube‘s globally distributed infrastructure offline.

Maintenance Downtime

YouTube schedules routine maintenance windows to upgrade their systems, usually during periods of low site traffic.

Now let‘s explore the most common playback errors and issues users face when trying to access YouTube, along with the best way to fix each one.

"Something Went Wrong" Error

This infuriatingly vague error message appears when YouTube is unable to load the video you requested, usually when tapping on a video or while it‘s buffering.

Potential Causes

  • Unstable internet connection
  • Outdated app or browser
  • Site outage or traffic overload
  • Browser cookies/cache overloaded

How to Fix It

  1. Check your internet speed – Use a site like Speedtest to ensure your connection is fast and consistent. Switch between WiFi and cellular data to test.

  2. Update your app or browser – Install the latest YouTube app on mobile or update your desktop browser to resolve bugs.

  3. Clear cookies and cache – Bloated browser data can interfere with YouTube loading properly.

  4. Try incognito/private mode – This prevents extensions or account settings from affecting YouTube.

  5. Check if YouTube is down – Monitor sites like Downdetector to see if others are reporting issues.

Slow Buffering or Lagging

Videos loading slowly or lagging behind audio are often caused by a weak internet connection. But server congestion at YouTube‘s end can also bottleneck traffic and slow video buffering.

Potential Causes

  • Poor internet connection speed
  • WiFi signal interference
  • High video resolution setting
  • Peak traffic overload at YouTube

How to Fix It

  1. Check your internet speed and switch between WiFi and cellular data.

  2. Adjust video quality – On mobile, tap the quality icon. On desktop, select a lower resolution like 480p or 720p.

  3. Pause and resume – Let the gray loading bar fill up before playing.

  4. Close other apps and tabs – They can congest your connection and slow YouTube buffering.

  5. Try early morning or late nights – YouTube traffic is lower outside of peak evening hours.

Pixelated, Blurry, or Low-Quality Video

YouTube defaulting to lower quality video could indicate a poor internet connection. But it can also result from incorrect resolution settings.

Potential Causes

  • Slow internet bandwidth
  • Video resolution set too low
  • VP9 codec support needed (Firefox, Edge browsers)

How to Fix It

  1. Check internet speed and switch between WiFi and cellular connections.

  2. Increase video quality – On mobile, tap the quality icon. On desktop, select 720p or 1080p.

  3. Make sure video isn‘t natively low-quality – Some videos are just blurry or pixelated.

  4. Enable VP9 support in browser – Firefox and Edge require VP9 extensions to stream HD.

  5. Allow cookies and disable ad blockers – They can block highest quality video.

YouTube Says "Video Unavailable"

Videos displaying as "unavailable" are typically deleted or restricted by the uploader to be viewable only in certain countries.

Potential Causes

  • Video was removed by uploader

  • Region-restricted video based on your location

  • Private or unlisted video

How to Fix It

  1. Search for duplicates – Deleted videos are often re-uploaded by other users.

  2. Use a VPN – Set your virtual location to a country where the video is available.

  3. Respect the uploader‘s intent – Don‘t try to circumvent private, unlisted, or restricted videos.

No Sound or Audio

YouTube videos not having sound can result from muted system volumes, but also from corrupt codec support needed for audio playback.

Potential Causes

  • System sound muted

  • YouTube tab volume muted

  • Video has no sound by design

  • Corrupt audio codec browser support

How to Fix It

  1. Check system and YouTube tab volume – Unmute and turn both up.

  2. Try another browser – Some have better codec support than others.

  3. Restart browser or device – To refresh sound components.

  4. Enable HTML5 instead of Flash – HTML5 has better sound handling.

YouTube App Crashing or Won‘t Open

App crashes or being unable to open the app could signal corrupt files that require reinstalling.

Potential Causes

  • Buggy app update

  • Insufficient storage space

  • Corrupt app files or permissions

How to Fix It

  1. Update the app in the Play Store or App Store.

  2. Free up storage space – Lack of space can make apps unstable.

  3. Force stop or reinstall the app to clear corrupt files.

  4. Restart your device to refresh system processes.

  5. Check for device OS updates to install bug fixes.

Site Outage or Service Disruption

In rare cases, technical issues at YouTube cause complete sitewide outages that prevent all users from accessing the platform.

How to Respond

  1. Check YouTube‘s status page for outage updates at 크게

  2. Follow @Team YouTube on Twitter for real-time updates.

  3. Consult Downdetector for user outage reports at

  4. Try YouTube TV – The main site may be down while the live TV service is still online.

  5. Be patient – Full outages are very rare and usually fixed within 1-2 hours. Try again later.

Why YouTube Is Down: Historical Data

Looking at historical data on YouTube‘s outage frequency sheds light on how often disruptions occur.

According to an analysis of YouTube‘s status page and user reports, here are key statistics:

  • YouTube averaged 21 outages per year from 2010 – 2020
  • The most outages in one year was 36 in 2016
  • Average outage duration is 1 hour 11 minutes
  • Longest recorded outage was over 8 hours in 2018

Outage Times per Year:

Year Number of Outages
2021 14
2020 15
2019 19
2018 27
2017 29
2016 36
2015 22
2014 25
2013 17
2012 15
2011 14
2010 18

So while YouTube reliability is generally excellent given the site‘s enormous scale, even the best systems experience occasional hiccups. Looking at the data, users can expect around 1-2 major outages per month lasting up to 1-2 hours.

Troubleshooting YouTube TV

In addition to the main YouTube website and apps, Google also offers a live TV streaming service called YouTube TV. It provides cable channel access and DVR capabilities.

YouTube TV can experience similar technical problems, but has the advantage of being independent from the main YouTube platform. So even if is down, YouTube TV usually remains accessible.

Here are some common YouTube TV-specific problems and how to troubleshoot them:

Issue: YouTube TV won‘t load any channels

Fixes: Restart device, reinstall app, check for app updates

Issue: Some channels say "unavailable"

Fixes: Verify account zip code is correct, enable location services

Issue: Playback freezes or buffers

Fixes: Check internet speed, restart device, adjust video quality

Issue: YouTube TV app crashing

Fixes: Update app, restart device, reinstall app, free up storage space

Issue: Can‘t sign into YouTube TV

Fixes: Reset password, logout and back in, unlink and relink YouTube account

Avoiding YouTube Frustration

Here are some final tips to minimize annoyances when using YouTube:

  • Upgrade your internet plan – Faster speeds enable higher quality video with less buffering.

  • Use Ethernet on desktop – Wired internet is vastly more reliable than WiFi for stable YouTube streaming.

  • Stay logged in – Being signed into your Google account enables offline viewing and other features.

  • Update apps/OS regularly – Keep software updated to ensure compatibility with YouTube.

  • Use YouTube TV during main site outages – The standalone app sometimes remains online.

  • Subscribe to channels – You‘ll get notified of any video takedowns or restrictions.

I hope this guide has provided some useful troubleshooting insights to get YouTube working properly again when it‘s refusing to cooperate. With the right fixes, you‘ll be back to cat videos and Fortnite highlights in no time!

Let me know in the comments if you run into any other odd YouTube issues. I‘m happy to help get to the bottom of them.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.