YouTube videos now cached by browsers

In the past people with slow connections who tried to watch YouTube videos often had their patience tested. Playback often caught up with the buffer, leading to annoying pauses--and leading many to give up entirely on watching Youtube videos.

Things have changed for the better, reports the Google Operating System blog. YouTube videos are now held in the browser's cache by default, allowing people to watch them again and again without pauses once they have been downloaded.

Youtube even has helpful advice for people with slow connections: "Still rockin' the 56k? No problem. As you may already know, a slower connection simply means slower delivery of services. You only need a little more time and patience than with a faster connection. For best results, you may want to start the video player and then click on the PAUSE button immediately. Then, wait until the red progress bar has reached the end of the video before playing it. Allowing the entire video buffer lets you watch it without interruption. Remember, the shorter the video, the shorter the amount of time it takes to buffer."

Even if you have got a fast connection, you may want to make use of this trick if your network seems slow.

There is, of course, nothing strange about the idea of caching Flash SWF files, even though the Google Operating System blog says that "YouTube managed to achieve something incredible" here. It seems rather to be a decision on YouTube's part to allow the (legal?) caching of videos by default.

The benefits are clear, however: better enjoyment of the YouTube videos you want to watch once or more than once, whether you have a slow or fast connection, and the ability to close and re-open the browser and then watch those videos again without having to download them a second time. Just remember, if you want to start caching large numbers of YouTube videos, you will want to make sure your browser cache size is big enough to accommodate them.

And one more thing, this new "functionality" also works for YouTube videos embedded in web pages on other sites, such as here on Neowin!

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42 Comments

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Cool. If they're still using Flash player which doesn't use the browser cache, I wonder how they're doing this (Javascript I guess). Hope Adobe sees sense and gives users the choice to cache files streamed by other Flash player protocols or at least make it open. (I'm looking at you RTMP).

An EXCELLENT question. You'd think it was platform independent, so I would guess that Yes, it should help the OS X derivatives like the iPhone and iPod Touch.

thats one thing i can tick off my wishlist now...

i remember those days of grief when i accidentally closed the browser or one of its tabs containing that youtube video which i spent the last few hours downloading

im curious as to if it also caches incompletely downloaded videos, but i dont really feel like trying it out right now...

carmatic said,
thats one thing i can tick off my wishlist now...

i remember those days of grief when i accidentally closed the browser or one of its tabs containing that youtube video which i spent the last few hours downloading

im curious as to if it also caches incompletely downloaded videos, but i dont really feel like trying it out right now...


Not it doesn't, it only caches fully bufferd videos.

tripleXit said,
And how much hard drive space is this cache gonna take up if I watch a lot of videos? Megabytes? Gigabytes?


Your browser should limit the amount of temporary files anyways.

Even though @superkid is correct here, who cares how much hard drive space ANYTHING takes up anymore?

Except for video editors, 3D artists, etc. drive space became a non issue ten years ago.

You can buy a TB drive (that's a 1,000 gigabytes) for as low as $100 now.

excalpius said,
Even though @superkid is correct here, who cares how much hard drive space ANYTHING takes up anymore?

Except for video editors, 3D artists, etc. drive space became a non issue ten years ago.

You can buy a TB drive (that's a 1,000 gigabytes) for as low as $100 now.


Drive space is very much an issue, especially for those of us with laptops that have other things to spend money on, and SSD users.

Anyone else find YouTube HD videos practically unusable during peak hours?? I'm in the UK, right now on Tiscali, however, have had exactly same issues on my Virgin 10mb back in London, friend says the same with him on BT broadband.

I set it so YouTube plays them in HD (if available) and find it takes forever to load - initially the player won't even start playing for a few minutes! Then when I skip in HD, half the time it messes up the video and I have to refresh/restart. I thought this was perhaps the HD setting, though sometimes I find the search results page shows up perfectly but the video pages take a long time. Right now it's OK but it seems to be incredibly temperamental and my only guess is ISPs throttling, though if this is the case it's totally out of order because they may as well just block YouTube with the limits I sometimes find...

Any other UK (or other countries I guess) users ever find this?

yeah. YT hd is still a little loopy for me now and again, other services that offer HD seem to have no issue, not sure what youtube is doing wrong... i know its not my system

Thom said,
Anyone else find YouTube HD videos practically unusable during peak hours?? I'm in the UK, right now on Tiscali, however, have had exactly same issues on my Virgin 10mb back in London, friend says the same with him on BT broadband.

I set it so YouTube plays them in HD (if available) and find it takes forever to load - initially the player won't even start playing for a few minutes! Then when I skip in HD, half the time it messes up the video and I have to refresh/restart. I thought this was perhaps the HD setting, though sometimes I find the search results page shows up perfectly but the video pages take a long time. Right now it's OK but it seems to be incredibly temperamental and my only guess is ISPs throttling, though if this is the case it's totally out of order because they may as well just block YouTube with the limits I sometimes find...

Any other UK (or other countries I guess) users ever find this?

Never happens for me in Belgium (with a very fast connection though).

Same here on UK IDNet adsl. HD movies take ages to load and never downloads at 100% of my connection, but rather only uses up 10% or 20%. Some normal Youtube videos even take so long to load that it gets stuck in buffering, and it's not using my full bandwidth either.

Youtube's performance just got a lot poorer in recent months

Hopefully, this caching is a response to this. I bet they were getting a TON more traffic than necessary just because of non-caching, haha.

greg453497897 said,
Huh? Am I missing something? I've been able to do this for ages.

the new thing is that you dont have to redownload the video if you leave its page...

carmatic said,
the new thing is that you dont have to redownload the video if you leave its page...

It was the same once, they changed it and now back.

Hmmm, I don't have much HDD space left... I guess putting HD videos in my browser's cache will... help?

those HD videos can get pretty big, depending where / what you're viewing haha... but i'm just not crazy about garbage files taking up space

PsykX said,
Hmmm, I don't have much HDD space left... I guess putting HD videos in my browser's cache will... help?

Set your browser to only use X amount of MB to cache.

nhozemphtekh said,
"Remember, the shorter the video, the shorter the amount of time it takes to buffer."

thanks mate, now thats a protip.

My thoughts exactly when I read the article.

Pure genius.

nhozemphtekh said,
"Remember, the shorter the video, the shorter the amount of time it takes to buffer."

thanks mate, now thats a protip.

Your sarcasm seems to imply you are assuming all people on the web have common sense. That is a grave mistake.

For best results, you may want to start the video player and then click on the PAUSE button immediately. Then, wait until the red progress bar has reached the end of the video before playing it. Allowing the entire video buffer lets you watch it without interruption.

Huh? Is this supposed to be something new? I used to do the same three years back when I was on a 256 kbps line. Still do it on an EVDO connection.

Glendi....what??

BeeJAyP was asking if users who's web connection comes via a proxy server (corporate users for instance) would benefit from the videos being cacheable by the proxy server. Seems like a valid question to me.

Our company uses YouTube extensively for product launch videos, demonstrations, etc. Having that content cached by the proxy server could save hundreds of megabytes of bandwidth on our internet connection if indeed this stuff is cacheable at the proxy server and not just the client.

BeeJAyP said,
Seems to be working great so far, will this now allow proxy servers to cache YouTube?

YouTube has always been cacheable at the proxy level -- we've done so for years.

I'm glad they did this, seems like a pretty straightforward idea... perhaps there were some legal or technical issues for them, but at least they made it happen