There is currently an issue affecting some YouTube users which causes huge slowdowns when trying to view content, and there is no consensus on the cause. People believe this could be due to ad blockers for YouTube being cracked down by Google.

In November, 9to5Google began reporting on this issue, and although speculation began with the idea that it was an issue with Firefox, designed to force users to use the Google-owned Chrome browser, the most popular theory became one that suggested ad blockers were the cause.

A post on Reddit seemed to show this being the case, with the user showing the slow load speeds, then disabling their ad blocker and having speeds return to normal. Users also reported problems with turning a video into full-screen or theatre mode.

Youtube started slowing video buffer with adblock enabled
byu/NightMean inyoutube

YouTube seemingly confirmed this in a statement they made to 9to5Google: “Ads are a vital lifeline for our creators that help them run and grow their businesses. That’s why the use of ad blockers violates YouTube’s Terms of Service. We’ve been urging users for some time to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad-free experience. In the past week, users using ad blockers may have experienced suboptimal viewing, which included delays in loading, regardless of the browser they are using. Users who have uninstalled their ad blockers may still experience a temporary delay in loading, and should try refreshing their browser.”

However, as Ars Technica pointed out, the slow buffering experienced by some users might be due to a bug in one of the most popular ad blockers, Adblock Plus. Adblock Plus recently posted a bug report about “performance issues” and said it should be fixed in the next version. Developers of a different ad blocker, uBlock Origin, said the issue only affected Adblock Plus users.

What are the ad blockers for YouTube?

Although record numbers of users are uninstalling their ad blockers, it remains unclear whether this is the right course of action or not. Most of the most popular ad blockers are working hard to get around YouTube’s crackdown. Here are the most popular ad blockers for YouTube:

  • uBlock Origin (free and open source, supports most popular browsers)
  • AdBlocker Ultimate ($2.49 per month billed annually, claims to work on a system level to overcome new ad technology)
  • AdGuard ($2 per month, billed annually, works similarly to AdBlocker Ultimate)

Featured image credit: Freestock/Pexels

Ali Rees

Freelance journalist

Ali Rees is a freelance writer based in the UK. They have worked as a data and analytics consultant, a software tester, and a digital marketing and SEO specialist. They have been a keen gamer and tech enthusiast since their childhood in are currently the Gaming and Tech editor at Brig Newspaper. They also have a Substack where they review short video games. During the pandemic, Ali turned their hand to live streaming and is a fan of Twitch. When not writing, Ali enjoys playing video and board games, live music, and reading. They have two cats and both of them are idiots.