Fix: YouTube Videos Not Playing on Android

YouTube has become our primary source for video content. The platform is as stable as you’ll ever get, and since it was acquired by Google any server-side issue is virtually non-existent.

Despite this, a lot of users, particularly Android users, have reported that their YouTube videos just won’t load. Sometimes they see a message like “Connection to server lost. Tap to retry” or “There was a problem while playing”, and sometimes the videos seem to buffer endlessly.

Android bug camera background

I don’t know about you, but for me, Youtube is an app I just can’t-do without. Unfortunately, there isn’t a fixed solution that will magically make the YouTube app load videos again. If you want to be able to load videos again on YouTube, you’ll need to put in some effort.

Since multiple potential culprits can affect the functionality of YouTube, we are going to go about solving this with a trial and error approach. Before we get to the fixing part, here are the most culprits that will render you unable to load YouTube videos on Android:

  • Incorrect time and date
  • Cache accumulation of the YouTube app
  • Google Play Services glitch
  • Glitched Google account
  • Faulty Wi-Fi network
  • Outdated YouTube app
  • Outdated Android OS version
  • Software conflict

Now that we know the causes, let’s get to the fixing part. But before moving on with the solutions, try to play the Youtube video in the safe mode of Android. The Safe Mode will automatically disable all the third-party applications/services that are running. If YouTube works in safe mode, it means there was some third-party application causing the problem. You can try turning the applications on one by one and uninstall the problematic one after diagnosing it.

Make sure you follow each method below in order until you find a fix that solves your problem. Let’s begin!

Method 1: Check Your Internet Connection

Most of the time, the fix is as simple as resetting your internet connection. If you have an Internet Service Provider that works with dynamic IP’s, you may encounter buffering problems from time to time. A quick way to test this theory is to disable the Wi-Fi connection, switch to mobile data and see if the videos are loading up. But even if the following steps will fix your issue, you might still need to repeat them once in a while. Here’s what you need to do:

  1.  Turn off your Wi-Fi connections and enable Mobile Data.
    Turn Off WiFi and Turn On Mobile Data
  2. Wait until the mobile data connection takes over, then try to load a video in the YouTube app. Is it loading up properly?
  3. If you can play videos on mobile data, go to Settings > WiFi and long press on the Wi-Fi network you were previously connected to.
  4. Tap on Forget Network from the newly appeared tab.
    Forget Network
  5. Tap on the Wi-Fi network again and insert the password.
  6. Open the YouTube app again and attempt to play a video.
Reset Your Router

If the issue persists, it might be worth resetting the router. You can use a pencil or a needle to push the reset button located on the rear panel. But keep in mind that hitting the reset button will revert any of the settings previously set in the control panel of the router (it won’t reset the network’s name and password).

Method 2: Check Time and Date of Your Device

This has little to do with the actual YouTube app. The issue is related to your Google account (which the YouTube app uses). A lot of users have reported functionality problems while “Time and Date” is incorrectly set on their device. If you have the incorrect date & time, you might see other odd behaviors besides the YouTube app – you might notice sync fails or even problems when downloading from Google Play Store.

With this in mind, here’s how to make sure you have set the “Time and Date” correctly:

  1. Go to Settings > Advanced Settings, locate the Time & Language section and tap on Date & Time.
    Note: The exact path of Time & Language may differ from device to device. If you can’t locate it with the steps above, do an online search with “time and date + *YourPhoneModel*”
  2. Once you open Date & time, make sure the Automatic date & time option is enabled.
    Enable Automatic Date & Time
  3. Scroll down and check if the Automatic time zone is enabled. If it’s disabled, tap on the toggle next to the entry to enable it.
  4. It may take a while until your system automatically updates the date & time. You can force it to update by restarting your device.

Method 3: Uninstall YouTube Downloaders

Before you do anything else, make sure your Android doesn’t have some sort of YouTube downloader app. A lot of users have reported software conflicts between 3rd party downloaders and the stock YouTube app. This is even more common with 3rd party apps downloaded from outside Google Play Store.

Method 4: Clear the YouTube App Cache

This following method has the highest chances of fixing the video loading issue. The latest Android versions know how to deal with cache accumulation, but older versions are quite inefficient and often glitch out. Let’s see if that’s the case by clearing out the cache from the YouTube app:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps (Applications > Application Manager) and make sure you select the All apps filter.
  2. Scroll down and tap on the YouTube app.
    Open YouTube App in Android Application Manager
  3. Tap on Storage and select Clear Cache.
    Clear Cache of the App
  4. Restart your device and see if YouTube is loading up videos.

Method 5: Clear the Google Play Services Cache

If the method above wasn’t successful, let’s try clearing the cache from Google Play Services. If the issue is related to your Google account, this will fix the issue most of the time. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps (Applications > Application Manager) and make sure you select the All apps filter.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Google Play Services.
    Open Google Play Services in Android Application Manager
  3. Tap on Storage and select Clear Cache.
    Clear Cache of the App
  4. Restart your device and see if YouTube is loading up videos.

Method 6: Update Android OS and YouTube App

If the issue started appearing after you ignored an OS update, that might be the cause. Some users have reported that the issue stopped after they managed to update the Youtube app, so we are going to that also. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Go to Settings and scroll down to System Update.
  2. Tap on Check for Updates. If you have a new update available, install it right away. Your system will restart several times, so make sure you have enough battery before attempting this.
    Check For System Updates
  3. Once you’re sure you have the latest version of Android OS, open Google Play Store.
  4. In the Google Play Store, swipe from left to right and tap on My apps & games.
    Open My Apps & Games
  5. You should see a list of all your pending updates. Either locate the Youtube app entry and tap the Update box next to it or tap on Update All.
  6. Once you’re on the latest YouTube update, open the app and see if your videos are loading up normally.

On the other hand, if your device refuses to load YouTube videos after you updated the YouTube app, try uninstalling the update. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps (Applications > Application Manager) and make sure you have the All apps filter in place.
  2. Scroll down and tap on the YouTube app.
    Open YouTube App in Android Application Manager
  3. Tap on Uninstall Updates.
  4. Open the YouTube app and see if the videos are loading.

Method 7: Refresh Your Google Account

If you’ve come this far without a result, there’s a strong possibility that your Google account glitched out. In such a case, the solution is to refresh your Google account by removing it before adding it again. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings and tap on Accounts.
  2. From the list of all your accounts, tap on Google.
    Open Google Account in Android Accounts
  3. Tap the Remove icon and confirm. If you don’t see the icon right away, tap the menu icon (three dots icon) and select Remove account.
    Remove Account
  4. If you have multiple Google accounts on your device, repeat the procedure with all of them.
  5. Now add them again by going back to Settings > Accounts and tapping on Add account.
    Add Account
  6. Insert your Gmail account and password before trying to load up YouTube videos again.

Method 8: Perform a Hard Reset

You can watch YouTube videos in your mobile’s web browser or you may use YouTube Go. If you got this far, a factory reset is the only way forward. This will surely solve your problem, but you’ll end up losing all your files from your device. A factory reset will restore your phone to its factory state. This means all your data including videos, photos, contacts and music files will be forever lost.

The SD card is not affected by this procedure, so if you have the personal stuff there don’t worry, you won’t lose any of it. When you’re ready, here’s how to factory reset your device:

  1. Go to Settings > Advanced Settings and tap on Backup & Reset.
  2. Make sure Back up my data is enabled. If it isn’t, enable it and wait for the backup to be created.
    Backup My Data
  3. Scroll down and tap on Factory data reset.
  4.  Tap on Reset Phone to confirm your option.
  5. The process will take a while to complete and your device will restart at the end of it.
  6. With your device reinitialized, update the YouTube app again and you should be able to play videos normally.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.