We all know roughly how YouTube works. It streams video files. There. Easy!
But there's much, much more to it than that. For one thing, YouTube isn't just in one place, and nor are we. It's a global service. It has to work from anywhere to anywhere.
And from anything to anything as well. That's not easy.
Think of the number of platforms and devices out there that have YouTube on them, either though the web, or through YouTube applications for the specific devices.
Each type of client needs its own type of service, and quite a few different video formats too.
And for each format, you have to have multiple versions of the file, at different bitrates.
Then, there's the tricky task of guessing how fast your internet connection is. If you push video too fast, it will get stuck, and the viewer will drop frames.
Finally, how do you patch all this together? It's a massive, worldwide system, with billions of users.
It helps if you're google
Of course, it helps if you're Google! (They own YouTube.)
Here's a short film made by Google to explain how YouTube works on a technical level.
It's pretty enlightening, and it does explain an awful lot about the glitches and slow-downs that we see when using this service.
It's always easy to complain. But never forget that fifteen years ago, if YouTube existed, it would have been a miracle.
Video after the break