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Everything You Need to Know About the “Cannot Play Video” Problem + Fixes

If you regularly watch video clips, TV shows, and videos on your PC from your hard disk or an external device, you’ve probably experienced the “video not playing” error prompt. On the other hand, if you prefer watching your videos in the web browser, you’ve certainly seen the “cannot play video” message.There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to why these error messages occur. That’s because it’s never just one problem to begin with. When a video doesn’t play, there could be several factors involved.

For example, your video files could have become corrupted, or you could’ve downloaded a faulty video file from a shady website. Thankfully, we can name a few causes and symptoms and offer solutions to help you resolve the problem.

What Is the “Cannot Play Video” Problem?

my videos are not playing

The “cannot play video” error prompt refers to a problem with your Windows OS, PC device, web browser, internet connection, or the video file you’re trying to play. In other words, a third-party factor prevents your video player, online or offline, from playing the file.

Additionally, older video players cannot reproduce newer video file formats, which could cause the “video not playing” or “cannot play video” error messages. In other words, the cause of this problem could be either in your video file, PC, or operating system (Windows).

Speaking of online videos, according to the official YouTube Blog, each year there are more than 2 billion users on YouTube!

youtube videos

Businesses have also found great use for YouTube and Facebook.

symptoms of videos will not play

All this means a lot of people watch videos online, which means a lot of people suffer corrupt videos.

You've come across it too, haven't you? Don't be surprised if one day, you just hop on the web, download a video, click on it, and get this message: "Cannot Play Video."

Different Symptoms of Videos Not Playing

symptoms of videos will not play

The symptoms of the “videos not playing” problem are pretty similar across computer devices, players, and video streaming platforms.

That can be quite beneficial because you’ll know how to identify a problem when it occurs and how to solve it. Sometimes, one fix may work for multiple problems depending on the error’s description.

With that in mind, here’s a list of the general symptoms of videos not playing:

  • You can only play video in one viewing mode;
  • Your video player crashes or freezes when you change screen resolution, expand the screen or player;
  • Your video often freezes or stutters upon starting, then resumes playing;
  • You see a blank, white, or black window when you try to play a video;
  • Video runs normally but appears distorted;
  • Your video player stops responding;
  • Your PC becomes unresponsive;
  • The video plays intermittently.

If you experience any of these symptoms when playing a video on your computer, that’s a clear indication there might be a system problem with video playback on your computer.

Below, we’ve created a list of the most common causes of videos not playing on Windows to provide more insights into why this problem occurs.

Common Causes of Videos Not Playing

causes of could not play video problem

Here are the top ten causes of the videos not playing problem for your consideration.

  • Using Pirated Content

pirated content caused videos will not play problem

Pirated content can infect your PC with malware and virus infections, cause file corruption across connected storage devices, and put your private information at risk by spreading malware across your network. Other risks of using pirated content include adware, spyware, and ransomware. In some countries, streaming pirated content can even cause trouble with the law.

  • Terms of Service Restrictions

could not play video terms of service restrictions

The Terms of Service document is a predetermined set of rules used by online streaming services like YouTube to determine how internet users may interact with the service.

The T&C document also sets how video content may be uploaded and used by third parties following law and data privacy compliance regulations. If you try to play a video that directly violates the platform’s T&C, you’ll receive an error prompt saying the service can’t play your video.

  • Outdated Browser

If you’re experiencing video problems on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, but all other websites appear to work just fine, your browser might need a long overdue update.

  • Not Enough Room or CPU

videos not playing not enough cpu capacity

In most situations, the videos not playing problem stems from your computer hardware. HD, 4K, and 8K videos require exhaustive computing capacities.

Your PC can’t process large video files if:

  • It doesn’t have enough CPU resources;
  • It doesn’t have enough hard disk space;
  • It doesn’t have sufficient RAM.
  • Plug-in Conflicts

youtube videos not playing due to plugin conflicts

Standard video players such as VLC, BS Player, and Windows Media Player use tools (plugins) to process and play video files across various video formats. If you’re trying to play a file using the wrong plugin settings, your media player won’t be able to process the video and will report playback problems.

  • Cache and Cookies

cache and cookies can cause cannot play video problems

Cache stands for short-term memory repository on your PC, and it stores information for easy and swift retrieval. If you have no cache memory left, you won’t be able to play video files without playback problems.

On the other hand, accumulated cookies can also cause a few playback problems, interfere with your video player, and cause the “video not working” problem across browsers like Chrome.

  • Video Corruption

video corruption causes videos not playing problems

A corrupt video file is one of the main reasons why videos won’t play on your computer. In most cases, the causes of video corruption can range from system bugs, hard disk errors, and glitches in the Windows system to power surges, virus infections, and malware attacks.

  • Internet Problems

unstable internet connectivity can cause cannot play video problems

Poor internet connection, bad signal, or slow connection speed can cause several video playback problems. Your YouTube and Facebook videos won’t play if there are any problems with your local network and internet connection. When you try to play an online video, it will just buffer with no end in sight.

  • Unsupported Video Format

unsupported video format can cause videos will not play problems

If your video player doesn’t support the video file format you’re trying to play, you’ll receive a video playback error prompt. A video player can’t play a video if the file is corrupt, the file extension is incorrect, or the file type (format) isn’t supported. In addition, most old video players can’t play newer video formats.

  • Hardware Acceleration Issues

hardware acceleration issues

Issues with hardware accelerators, including problems with your sound and graphics cards, can cause numerous video playback problems. Some problems include a black screen issue, unstable application performance (video player), problems presenting high-definition images, etc.

How to Fix the “Cannot Play Video” Problem

Here are the top 11 methods to fix the “cannot play video” problem for good.

Fix 1: Use a VPN

use a vpn to fix the cannot play video problem

VPN stands for virtual private network and is a solution that can help you fix numerous internet connection problems, including the cannot play video playback error. In addition, a VPN is an excellent tool for bypassing geo-restrictions and unlocking video content in restricted countries worldwide.

Additionally, a top-class VPN service provider ensures top browsing privacy, supports unthrottled downloads and P2P traffic (torrenting), protects your data using military-grade encryption, and has a strict no-logs policy.

Here’s how to install a VPN on your PC (Windows 10).

1. Navigate to the Start menu and select the Settings cog;

install a vpn on your pc to fix cannot play video

2. In the Windows Settings, navigate to Network&Internet>VPN>Add a VPN connection;

add a vpn connection to fix cannot play video

3. Fill the necessary fields in the Add a VPN connection dialog box and click Save;

add a vpn connection to fix cannot play video 2

4. Click Change adapter options;

change adapter options to fix cannot play video 2

5. Right-click UWSP VPN and select Properties;

select usw vpn properties to fix cannot play video

6. In the UWSP VPN Properties window, select Internet Protocol Version 6, click Properties, and select Advanced;

select usw vpn properties to fix cannot play video 2

7. In the Advanced TCP/IP Settings window, uncheck Use default gateway on remote network and click OK;

uncheck the use default gateway on remote network box

8. Click the DNS tab, type uwsp.edu in the DNS suffix for this connection text box, and click OK;

change your advanced tcp/ip settings

9. Go back to the UWSP VPN properties tab, select Internet Protocol Version 4, and click Properties>Advanced;

10. Select the IP settings tab, uncheck Use default gateway on remote network, and click OK.

Fix 2: Repair Videos With Wondershare Repairit

use wondershare repairit video repair tool to fix cannot play video problem

If your video media player can’t play a video file due to video corruption or severe video damage, a tool like Wondershare Repairit can help you repair and make your file playable again. Repairit is a video repair solution that uses advanced video repair technology to fix corrupted and severely damaged videos and restore your files.

It can also enhance the quality of your videos. The tool can instantly and effectively repair any video file, regardless of the cause of video damage. Whether your files got corrupted during processing, converting, editing, transferring, recording, or shooting, Repairit can repair and restore your files across a range of devices and video file formats.

Repairit is the ultimate solution for fixing video playback errors, such as:

  • Missing video codec;
  • Flickering video;
  • Header corruption;
  • Out-of-sync audio/video;
  • Playback errors;
  • Video no sound;
  • Video not playing.

Download, install, and launch Repairit on your computer and follow these steps to fix your video files:

1. Navigate Repairit to the Video Repair tab and drag and drop your corrupted files to start the repair process, or simply click +Add to add your files;

add corrupted video files to start repairing;

2. Once you finish adding corrupted video files, click Repair in the Unrepaired Videos section;

repair corrupted video files with wondershare repairit

3. Preview the repaired results and click Save (if the quality matches your needs);

preview the repaired videos before saving

4. Click Advanced Repair (if the quality of the repaired video isn’t satisfying or you’re repairing a severely damaged file);

use advanced repair for severely damaged video files

5. Follow the instructions to add a sample video and click Next>Repair>Save to save the repaired files.

save the repaired video files on your computer

Tip: If you don’t want to bother with the installation of Repairit on your computer, you can use the online video repair version to fix damaged videos (up to 3GB) for free. The Repairit Online Video Repair is also suitable for fixing videos on Android/iOS mobile devices.

wondershare repairit online video repair tool

Fix 3: Update Your Browser

If your browser opens websites just fine but struggles with playing YouTube or online videos, it might be outdated. An outdated browser could cause the “cannot play video” problem. Fix it by simply checking for the latest browser updates.

Follow these steps to update your browser.


1. Open your Chrome browser and navigate to the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner;

update chrome to fix video playback problems

2. Select Help>About Google Chrome and let your browser download updates automatically (if there are any available).

3. Restart your browser and play the video again.


  • Open Firefox, click the three-line menu in the upper right corner, and navigate to Help>About Firefox;
  • If updates are available, your browser will download them automatically;
  • Click Restart to update Firefox to apply your changes.

update firefox to fix video playback issues

Microsoft Edge (updates with your Windows automatically):

  • Go to Start>Settings>Updates & Security;
  • Select Windows Update< Check for updates.
  • Your PC will start the update process automatically.

update microsoft edge browser to fix video issues

Fix 4: Remove Plugins

Conflicting plugins can cause the videos not playing problem on your PC. You can remove the old plugins and add new ones to fix this problem.

Here’s how:

  • Open your Windows Media Player 11 and navigate to Tools>Plugins>Options;
  • Select the plugin category you want to remove;
  • Click on the name of the plugin to select it;
  • Tick the Disable or deactivate the plugin box and click Apply.

BS Player:

  • Open BS Player, right-click on the player and select Options>Preferences;
  • Select Plugins on the right side, click the plugin to select it, tick the Disable plugins (restart required) box, and click Close.

Fix 5: Turn off Hardware Acceleration

Disabling or turning off the hardware acceleration feature may resolve the problem of videos not playing on both your web browser and Windows PC.

Here are the steps to turn off hardware acceleration in Chrome:

  • Open Chrome, click the three-dot menu, and navigate to Settings>System;
  • In the Settings section, click the three-line menu right next to Settings and toggle the button next to the Use hardware acceleration when available option;
  • Restart your browser to apply the changes.

turn off hardware acceleration in chrome

Fix 6: Use Incognito Mode

Browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge allow you to privately browse the web using the Incognito Mode. This mode prevents your browser from tracking your activity and enhances your privacy by removing visited websites and pages from your browsing history. It can also fix your cannot play video problem.

Here’s how to enter the Incognito Mode on Chrome:

  • Head to the three-dot menu in your browser and click New Incognito Window;
  • Try playing the problematic video file.

Fix 7: Update Codecs

Missing or outdated codecs can cause video playback problems. Codec is a vital piece of software that helps video players decode audio/video data from a video file. Though your video player updates its codecs automatically when you perform a player update, you can check for codec updates using Windows Media Player.

Here are the steps:

  • Open WMP and navigate to Tools>Options;
  • In the Automatic updates section, check the Once a day option under Check for Updates and click Apply>OK.

update codecs in windows media player

Fix 8: Use a Different Video Player

use a different video player to fix cannot play video problem

Sometimes, switching to a different video player is all you need to do to fix the cannot play video problem. Some media players are more capable of playing a wide range of video files and formats than other video players.

For example, VLC is known as the most diverse multi-media player on the web. In addition, VLC has an impressive selection of tools you can use to fix various video playback issues. If a video file doesn’t work on your regular player, use a different program to fix the problem.

Fix 9: Clear Cache and Cookies

Accumulated cache and cookies can cause numerous online video playback problems, including problems with playing YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook videos. Clearing browsing history and data might help resolve the cannot play video problem.

Here’s how to clear cache and cookies in Chrome:

1. Open Chrome, navigate to the three-dot menu, and select More tools>Clear browsing data…;

clear cache and cookies in chrome

2. In the Clear browsing data tab, tick the Cookies and other site and plugin data and Cached images and files options and click Clear browsing data.

clear browsing data in chrome

Fix 10: Troubleshoot Your Internet Connection

Internet connection problems are common causes of countless online problems, including video playback issues. If your PC can’t connect to the internet, you won’t be able to load online videos.

Basic fixes include restarting your PC, trying to access other websites, restarting your router, scanning for malware/virus infection, etc. However, if none of these fixes work, you can troubleshoot your device internet connection problems using the Windows Troubleshooter.

Here’s how:

1. Navigate to Start>Settings>Update&Security>Troubleshoot;

2. Select Internet Connections and click Run the troubleshooter;

troubleshoot your internet connection problems

3. Allow your PC to automatically search, detect, and fix internet connection issues;

4. Restart your computer and try playing a video again.

Fix 11: Update OS

If you’re running a media player on an outdated Windows PC, you might experience some video playback issues. Fix this by checking for any pending OS updates.

Here are the steps:

1. Navigate to Start>Settings>Update&Security>Windows Update>Check for updates;

update your windows to fix cannot play video problem

2. Windows will automatically download and install all the pending updates;

3. Restart your PC and play the video to check if the problem persists.


Windows users often deal with playback errors when playing movies, shows, and video clips on players like VLC, BS Player, Windows Media Player, etc. In most cases, these errors are easy to solve with basic fixes. However, the playback issues may sometimes be more complex and require more effort to resolve.

If the main cause of your cannot play video problem is the video file itself, fix it using the most reliable and effective Wondershare Repairit Video Repair tool. It repairs corrupted and damaged video files and makes your favorite video clips playable again.