If you happen to watch videos on YouTube at times using a web browser, you may have noticed that videos are not buffered fully on the site.
Google changed how videos are buffered on YouTube some time ago, and uses something called DASH. Dash is an acronym for Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP.
DASH breaks the content into smaller chunks of files. The quality of the video stream is dynamically adjusted based on network conditions by changing the quality level of chunks that are available.
While DASH may offer a better experience, for instance by continuing to stream a video if network conditions get worse, it stopped the option to buffer YouTube videos fully.
What this meant is that you could not pause a video in the first second, wait until it is fully buffered, to start watching it in the selected quality and even offline.
The Firefox add-on YouTube without DASH Playback (fully buffer) provides a solution. Basically, what it does is enable or disable support for DASH in Firefox on the user’s request.
It adds an icon to Firefox’s main toolbar that you may click on to toggle the feature on or off. While designed with YouTube in mind, the author notes that it will work on any site using DASH for HTML5 video streaming.
You are probably wondering how the Firefox extension achieves that. It toggles the value of the preference media.mediasource.enabled between true and false.
If set to false, DASH becomes unavailable and videos will buffer fully on YouTube.
You may use the preference to disable DASH without installing the add-on. What the add-on adds is an option to toggle DASH which you may find useful.
Do the following to configure the Firefox preference directly:
- Type about:config in the browser’s address bar.
- Confirm that you will be careful if the warning prompt is displayed.
- Search for media.mediasource.enabled.
- Double-click on the preference to toggle it.
If you want videos on YouTube to buffer fully, set the preference to false.
Full buffering on sites like YouTube can be very useful. While DASH makes sure that videos continue to play if network conditions deteriorate, full buffering ensures that the quality remains on the same level.
While that may mean waiting longer before a video is fully buffered, it often makes for a better viewing experience. Additionally, you may watch the video without network connection if it is fully buffered.
There is little need for the extension if you don’t use DASH, and don’t run into issue on sites that require it as you may set the preference in Firefox directly in this case.