Save Bandwidth on Youtube

Let me guess a bit. If you are reading this, you’re likely a victim of your ISP who imposes bandwidth caps on you.

YouTube is a beast when it comes to online bandwidth consumption. Isn’t that annoying every time you have to click on that gear icon gear hd, just to set your preferred video quality. This is because YouTube’s false assumption that your bandwidth is proportional to the speed of your connection. So it automatically adjusts the quality of the video from low (360p) to high (>1080p) depending on the speed of your internet connection. They generally choose the highest quality possible.

There is no universal way nor one plugin to deal with all YouTube’s annoyances. But I’ll list some useful extensions and tweaks that will help you save bandwidth.

Videos are most likely to start in High Definition when the quality is set to auto which in our case is not good. This issue can be overcome by forcing YouTube to play videos in a fixed quality level.

Set a default Video Playback Quality
On your YouTube account’s settings page, under Playback settings choose the option “I have a slow connection. Never play higher-quality video”

This will tell YouTube not to default to HD even if you have a faster connection.


ImprovedTube Options

Update the settings as you wish

Start videos paused
This way videos won’t start buffering right away which gives you more control. Starting videos paused is really useful when all you want is to download a video. If you’re extremely low on bandwidth, you can even check the comments and ratings to have an idea prior to playing.

Out of a dozen the one extension that can address many of these problems is Magic Actions for YouTube™

ImprovedTube and Youtube High Definition are two other great alternatives which are meant to load all Youtube Videos in the highest possible resolution. But we can use them the other way around.

Download what you want than stream it
Downloading and streaming is basically the same thing. The only real difference is that when downloading you are unable to playback until the download is complete. IMHO, for a Linux box there’s nothing better than youtube-dl for that matter.

Block pre-roll ads to make YouTube more bearable
Use one of the many free adblock extensions to block obtrusive advertising, specially those annoying pre-roll ads.

Use a data saver
Opera is tackling data compression since 2009. Their Opera Max for mobile and Turbo on desktop claims to save data by up to 50% thus maximizing how much streaming you can do with your monthly data allotment.

You could also try Google’s new Data Server extension for Chrome. Though it won’t make much difference on YouTube as it does not support shrinking pages over SSL, it can help reduce your overall bandwidth consumption.

Got any useful tips or hacks? Let us know in the comments section below.

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