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YouTube is slowing video loads on Firefox. Here’s how to fix that


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If you’re a Firefox user with an ad blocker installed, you’ve likely noticed YouTube videos loading more slowly. I’ve tested this and found the difference in video load times between Opera and Firefox is noticeable. Is that because more Firefox users work with ad blockers? Just a few short months ago this was not the case. 

This issue stems from YouTube cracking down on ad blockers. According to 9to5Google, a user found code on YouTube.com that includes a timeout function forcing users to wait five seconds for videos to load.

Also: How to download YouTube videos for free, plus two other ways

A Google spokesperson had this to say: “We’ve launched a global effort to urge viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad-free experience. Ads support a diverse ecosystem of creators globally and allow billions to access their favorite content on YouTube.”

Clearly, Google is going all-in on preventing ad blockers on their sites.

As a YouTube user, what can you do? Many users are uninstalling their ad blockers — but that’s not always the best option. Why? Because you’ll find, on some sites, that you are inundated with so many ads, the site you’re viewing slows to a crawl (or worse, crashes your browser). Because I’ve run into this problem more often than I care to mention, I’ve been using an ad blocker for quite some time. 

There are a couple of solutions you can try. Do understand, however, not every solution will work on every browser and the specific steps you take will vary, depending on the browser and ad blocker you use. Also, some browsers (such as Opera) have a built-in ad blocker. To that end, let me show you what I’ve done.

How to add a YouTube exception on your ad blocker

Instead of uninstalling or disabling your ad blocker, you can simply add an exception for YouTube, which means the ads will play as normal for that site. Let me show you how to do that with Opera and then with uBlock Origin on Firefox.

Open Opera and point it to opera://settings/adBlockerExceptions. On that page, click Add and, in the resulting pop-up, type [*.]youtube.com and click Add. Once you’ve taken care of that, close the tab, visit YouTube, and see if the video loading slowdown has been fixed.

The Opera ad blocker exception pop-up.

Adding an exception for YouTube in Opera is quite simple.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Open Firefox and point it to YouTube. After the page loads, click the uBlock Origin icon in the toolbar and then click the Power button to disable the ad blocker for YouTube. Reload YouTube in Firefox and then view a video. Hopefully, this change will take care of the slowdown.

The uBlock Origin drop-down.

You can add an exception to any site with a click of a button for uBlock Origin.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

If you use a different ad blocker, you can do a quick search to find out how to add an exception for YouTube. If you find that doesn’t help with Firefox, you might have to install the User-Agent Switcher extension and change what browser Firefox presents itself as to trick YouTube into thinking Firefox isn’t Firefox.

The User Agent Switcher drop-down in Firefox.

Tricking websites into thinking Firefox is another browser with the User Agent Switcher extension.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Also: The top 6 new YouTube features and design updates 

It’s fairly obvious why Google doesn’t want users employing ad blockers. Even so, it shouldn’t be all that hard for you to resolve this problem with either an ad blocker exception or tricking YouTube into thinking Firefox is Chrome.

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