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Problems playing YouTube videos? Try H264ify for Chrome

Video playback for most YouTube visitors is just fine. They may run into the occasional issue but most of the time videos play without delays, stutters, buffering issues or local issues such as draining battery life, using too much cpu or causing everything else on the system to slow down while a video is playing.

Some users of the site run into issues all the time on the other hand. This is not necessarily YouTube faults, not always anyway, as it may also be caused by bad routing and  computer that is not suited for playing videos of a certain quality.

The Google Chrome extension h264ify aims to improve the YouTube experience on low performance systems by switching from YouTube's VP8/VP9 encoded videos to H.264 encoded videos instead.

One of the core reasons for playback issues on YouTube is the default video format according to the author of the extension as VP8/VP9 is "not typically hardware accelerated".

What this means is that cpu is used to play these videos which is problematic on low-end systems for obvious reasons.

The switch to H.264 on the other hand ensures on many systems that hardware acceleration can be used which means that the GPU (video card) is being used for the heavy lifting.

The result: a smoother video experience and reduced cpu usage.

youtube mp4 video streaming

The extension works right after installation. You can check that easily by right-clicking on the YouTube video and selecting "stats for nerds" from the context menu.

Check the mime type line there: if you see video/mp4 it is working fine and streaming H.264 encoded videos. Without the extension you will see video/webm instead indicating that VP8/VP9 encoded videos are streamed.

Please note that this works only if the HMTL5 player is being used to play videos and not if Adobe Flash is used.

There is obviously no guarantee that it will resolve issues for all YouTube users who experience them. If you do use Chrome on the other hand and experience video streaming issues on YouTube, you may want to give this a shot. The worst that can happen is that it won't resolve the issue you are experiencing.

Chance is there however that it will improve video streams on the site for you. Considering that it takes a couple of minutes to test, it should be well worth the attempt.

This article was first seen on ComTek's "TekBits" Technology News


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