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Why Does My Computer Freeze When I Play YouTube Videos?

Pat from Woodstock, VT writes:

Most of the time when I click on the YouTube link, the video will not play and my computer freezes up. I then do ctrl, alt, del. I have double checked my internet options against my other computer and they are the same, but I am not having a problem with the other computer. What else can I check to correct this problem?

When you watch dancing cats or catch Presidential debate highlights on YouTube, your web browser is actually playing the video by using an Adobe Flash plug-in. If YouTube clips are playing normally on one computer on your network but freezing up on another, the problem is most likely caused by an issue with your Flash plug-in or by the settings on the problem machine. To stop your computer from freezing you’ll need to go through a few short troubleshooting steps.

The simplest potential problem to fix is actually handled directly through YouTube’s website itself. Navigate to any video that’s causing the freezing problem for you, but don’t click “Play” yet. Instead, right-click anywhere inside the video player to bring up a sub-menu of options, and then click “Settings.”

YouTube Video Settings

Remove the check-mark from the box labeled “Enable Hardware Acceleration” and then click the “Close” button. By default this hardware acceleration option is turned on to provide a better viewing experience, but if your computer is running slowly or you have lower system specs it can cause glitches such as an operating system crash. After turning off the feature, click the “Play” button and see if the problem continues to occur.

Turning Off Hardware Acceleration

If the problem is still happening, right-click a YouTube video again and re-check the hardware acceleration feature to turn it back on. Next you’ll need to update your Flash software, as an out-of-date Flash player can cause your computer to freeze while watching YouTube clips. Navigate to the http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ Adobe Flash player website and click the “Download Now” button (you may also want to un-check the “Yes, install McAfee Security Scan Plus” box if you don’t want any extra programs installed with your Flash update).

Updating Adobe Flash

Select the “Save File” button when a new window appears on the screen.

Saving The Adobe Update

Navigate to your “Downloads” folder (or whichever folder you use for saving files) and double-click the Adobe Flash installation file. Follow the prompts to install the latest version of Flash and then try to watch a YouTube video again.

Installing The Flash Update

Normally updating Flash or turning off hardware acceleration should fix any freezing problems, but if the issue continues to occur you may have a problem with your browser’s add-ons. Depending on which add-ons and extensions you have installed, any of these third party programs could be conflicting with your Flash player or the YouTube website. To turn off these additional programs with Firefox, click the “Firefox” button at the top-left corner of the screen and navigate to the “Add-Ons” option.

Opening The Add-Ons Screen

Open the “Extensions” tab and then look through the list of add-ons installed with the browser. Click “Disable” on each of the add-ons that aren’t specifically from either Adobe or YouTube.

Disabling Add-Ons

Restart your web browser and then play any YouTube video without any more freezing problems.

~Ty Arthur