Why do some sites stream faster than others?

I can watch a complete movie on YouTube without interruptions. Yet a 20 second video from Yahoo will start and stop and start and stop. The internet connection is the same, the computer is the same. All I can figure is the different sites are sending a different speeds, or using a different code. What gives?

Google probably has much faster servers than Yahoo.

Thank you babygoat666. And these faster servers cost big bucks, and Yahoo chooses not to invest in them?

You’ll also find YouTube speeds sometimes vary greatly depending on which particular server the video is on.

No, it’s not. Do a tracert to each of those two sites and you will see how differently they are routed. Only on your end is it the same, and for just a few hops.

All of the above are culprits. There are many variables that affect speed and you have listed some of them. It also may be traffic or congestion anywhere along the route. There are sophisticated traffic analyzers available, but they are expensive and take considerable training to know how to use them and interpret the data.

If you are watching a very popular movie, it may be cached locally or in a high-speed server in order to handle several people at once. Less popular flicks won’t have that advantage. It’s possible your YouTube videos are popular and the Yahoo ones, not so much.

Doesn’t hurt to complain to Yahoo, though.

This Ars Technica article shows another potential cause. The short version is that your ISP makes business deals with content providers such as Google. If the relationship breaks down your ISP can degrade the connection meaning that your video streaming takes a massive hit.

Here are the results from a tracert to three locations from my computer. Note that only the first 11 hops are the same (in this case, at this time). Also note that the YouTube route is 4 hops shorter and more than twice as fast from end-to-end than the Straightdope or Yahoo route.

Of course, this will change over time, and even sequential packets may not take the same route. That’s the way the Internet works.


Tracing route to youtube.com [74.125.225.137]
  1    <1 ms    <1 ms    <1 ms  router.treg [192.168.1.1] 
  2     7 ms     6 ms     7 ms  10.137.248.1 
  3     7 ms     7 ms     8 ms  dtr01jcptwi-gbe-9-28.jcpt.wi.charter.com [96.34.16.66] 
  4     9 ms    53 ms    12 ms  csw01twrvwi-tge-3-4.twrv.wi.charter.com [96.34.22.184] 
  5    12 ms    10 ms     9 ms  dtr01nwhlwi-tge-4-3.nwhl.wi.charter.com [96.34.20.240] 
  6    14 ms    16 ms    15 ms  crr03fdulwi-tge-0-0-0-0.fdul.wi.charter.com [96.34.16.80] 
  7    24 ms    23 ms    23 ms  crr02euclwi-tge-0-4-0-3.eucl.wi.charter.com [96.34.17.240] 
  8    19 ms    23 ms    23 ms  bbr02euclwi-tge-0-1-0-3.eucl.wi.charter.com [96.34.1.246] 
  9    30 ms    31 ms    32 ms  bbr01chcgil-bue-1.chcg.il.charter.com [96.34.0.9] 
 10    27 ms    26 ms    30 ms  prr01chcgil-bue-2.chcg.il.charter.com [96.34.3.9] 
 11    27 ms    26 ms    27 ms  96-34-152-30.static.unas.mo.charter.com [96.34.152.30] 
 12    26 ms    26 ms    27 ms  209.85.254.128 
 13    26 ms    47 ms    31 ms  209.85.240.152 
 14    35 ms    28 ms    26 ms  ord08s09-in-f9.1e100.net [74.125.225.137] 

Trace complete.
Tracing route to yahoo.com [206.190.36.45]
  1    <1 ms    <1 ms    <1 ms  router.treg [192.168.1.1] 
  2     9 ms     7 ms    12 ms  10.137.248.1 
  3     7 ms     7 ms     7 ms  dtr01jcptwi-gbe-9-25.jcpt.wi.charter.com [96.34.16.212] 
  4    10 ms    10 ms    10 ms  csw01twrvwi-tge-3-4.twrv.wi.charter.com [96.34.22.184] 
  5    11 ms    11 ms    12 ms  dtr01nwhlwi-tge-4-3.nwhl.wi.charter.com [96.34.20.240] 
  6    14 ms    15 ms    12 ms  crr03fdulwi-tge-0-0-0-0.fdul.wi.charter.com [96.34.16.80] 
  7    27 ms    24 ms    23 ms  crr02euclwi-tge-0-4-0-2.eucl.wi.charter.com [96.34.17.232] 
  8    23 ms    23 ms    24 ms  bbr02euclwi-tge-0-2-0-2.eucl.wi.charter.com [96.34.1.140] 
  9    30 ms    31 ms    32 ms  bbr01chcgil-bue-1.chcg.il.charter.com [96.34.0.9] 
 10    31 ms    30 ms    28 ms  prr01chcgil-bue-2.chcg.il.charter.com [96.34.3.9] 
 11    27 ms    27 ms    37 ms  ge-0-3-5.pat2.pao.yahoo.com [216.115.100.77] 
 12    90 ms    89 ms    74 ms  ae-5.pat1.dnx.yahoo.com [216.115.96.34] 
 13   161 ms    83 ms    84 ms  ae-8.pat2.gqb.yahoo.com [216.115.96.204] 
 14    83 ms    83 ms    80 ms  ae-0.msr2.gq1.yahoo.com [66.196.67.23] 
 15    84 ms    83 ms    83 ms  xe-4-0-0.clr2-a-gdc.gq1.yahoo.com [68.180.253.133] 
 16    85 ms    88 ms    85 ms  et-18-25.fab7-1-gdc.gq1.yahoo.com [98.137.31.190] 
 17    90 ms    81 ms    85 ms  po-15.bas2-7-prd.gq1.yahoo.com [206.190.32.41] 
 18    87 ms    86 ms    87 ms  ir1.fp.vip.gq1.yahoo.com [206.190.36.45] 

Trace complete.
Tracing route to straightdope.com [209.104.5.198]

  1    <1 ms    <1 ms    <1 ms  router.treg [192.168.1.1] 
  2     8 ms     7 ms     7 ms  10.137.248.1 
  3     8 ms     8 ms     7 ms  dtr01jcptwi-gbe-9-25.jcpt.wi.charter.com [96.34.16.212] 
  4     9 ms    10 ms    10 ms  csw01twrvwi-tge-3-4.twrv.wi.charter.com [96.34.22.184] 
  5    12 ms    11 ms    11 ms  dtr01nwhlwi-tge-4-3.nwhl.wi.charter.com [96.34.20.240] 
  6    12 ms    15 ms    11 ms  crr03fdulwi-tge-0-0-0-0.fdul.wi.charter.com [96.34.16.80] 
  7    20 ms    19 ms    23 ms  crr02euclwi-tge-0-2-0-4.eucl.wi.charter.com [96.34.22.240] 
  8    26 ms    23 ms    23 ms  bbr02euclwi-tge-0-2-0-6.eucl.wi.charter.com [96.34.1.250] 
  9    29 ms    31 ms    31 ms  bbr01chcgil-bue-1.chcg.il.charter.com [96.34.0.9] 
 10    27 ms    28 ms    27 ms  prr01chcgil-bue-2.chcg.il.charter.com [96.34.3.9] 
 11    26 ms    26 ms    37 ms  96-34-152-22.static.unas.mo.charter.com [96.34.152.22] 
 12    85 ms    86 ms    85 ms  68.1.5.211 
 13    84 ms    83 ms    83 ms  70.169.76.230 
 14    97 ms    84 ms    85 ms  tucssysc01-te-9-2.ph.ph.cox.net [70.169.72.159] 
 15    85 ms    93 ms    85 ms  tucssysc01-te-9-2.ph.ph.cox.net [70.169.72.159] 
 16    89 ms    88 ms    87 ms  wsip-184-183-155-170.ph.ph.cox.net [184.183.155.170] 
 17    86 ms    86 ms    85 ms  tus6.login.com [209.104.10.6] 
 18    86 ms    87 ms    85 ms  straightdope.com [209.104.5.198] 

Trace complete.

Be grateful this voodoo works at all.

Thank you musicat and sweetchemist! There is more than meets the eye. I never knew this world existed behind the scenes. Thanks again for your replies.