Why Are Videos Not Playing on My Laptop?

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Watching videos on your laptop is a great way to unwind after a long day at work, but what if your laptop isn’t playing these videos? We often take technology for granted, so when it malfunctions our first response might be to panic. However, every problem has a solution, and the first step to finding the solution is to understand the underlying problem itself.

The thing to note here is that there are only a few issues that can lead to videos not playing on your laptop. Most of these issues are easy to resolve yourself, but you need to start off by learning about why they have come about.

There are two ways in which videos might not play on your computer. The first of these is when you can’t play a video on YouTube or any other streaming service. The second potential problem, one that often seems a lot more serious, is if your laptop fails to open any kind of video file, even if it exists on the hard drive. Since most people tend to watch videos through a streaming platform, we will first address the former before getting to the latter.

What to Do If Your Laptop Doesn’t Let You Stream Video

The most common reason for a video not streaming is a poor internet connection, so that should be the first thing you check. Try conducting a speed test. If the test reveals low internet speed, that’s the cause of your videos not playing. That might be because your Wi-Fi router is in a different room, or its antennae are damaged. Another reason could be too many open tabs in your browser. Staying in the same room as your router or closing all other open tabs might fix this problem.

However, if you conduct the test and find that you’re getting normal internet speed, there might be an underlying issue that you would need to resolve. You might be using browser extensions that are using up too much of your bandwidth, or your firewall settings could be blocking access to this site. Removing unnecessary extensions usually increases internet speed which would allow you to resume browsing. Check your firewall too in case your streaming site was inadvertently added to its block list. Firewalls are meant to block malicious sites, but mix-ups are common and can be remedied by removing the site from the block list.

What to Do If Your Laptop Won’t Play Video Files

There are five possibilities that could prevent your laptop from opening video files. These are as follows:

Improper Software

Most video players are built to play virtually any media file type, but sometimes you might get a video file that’s out of the ordinary. In that scenario, your video player might not be able to support the file type which is why it’s not playing. That can also happen if your video player hasn’t been updated in a while. Obsolete video players can have trouble decoding certain video files, so make sure you’ve downloaded all the recent updates before trying anything else. Also, try to experiment with different video players. Chances are that one of them would be capable of playing the video file you’re thinking of viewing.

Missing Codecs

All data consists of strings of code, and video files are no different. Hence, any video file that you have on your system would need to be decoded by your video player so that it can be converted into a proper video format. Media players use codecs to encode and decode media data, but sometimes these codecs can get corrupted or deleted. Installing a new codec back can usually fix this issue.

Corrupted Files

Sometimes the problem isn’t in your laptop, but rather in the files you are trying to play. This is similar to a missing codec, except the problem is in the video data itself. Choosing the right media player can be helpful if you want to play a corrupted video file. VLC has a built in file repair tool that can rebuild MP4 files to a certain extent. To rebuild the file, just change it to an .avi video and select the “Always Repair” option in the AVI dropdown list in your VLC preferences menu. Bear in mind that sometimes the damage can be too severe, and if that happens you might not be able to play the file at all.

Bad Sectors

This is another example of file corruption, but in this instance it is your hard disk that has been damaged. Hard disks consist of separate sectors, and these sectors can get damaged or corrupted if your laptop is dropped or bumped into something. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to fix bad sectors in a hard drive. The only solution is to swap it for a new hard drive, although the data in the bad sectors can’t be recovered.

Obsolete or Corrupted Display Drivers

Your laptop’s display drivers convert electronic signals into the visual feed you would see on your screen. These drivers need to be updated frequently, so if you haven’t done that in a while that might be the source of your problem. Display drivers can get corrupted as well, in which case you would have to reinstall them.

Why Your Laptop Isn’t Playing Videos From a Disk

Movie buffs often pride themselves on owning expensive BluRays, so they would be understandably frustrated if their laptop fails to play the video. That usually indicates a problem with the disk drive, although in some cases the CD itself might be at fault. Files can get corrupted on a CD as well, so try to play it in different media players to see what the actual problem is.


What File Formats Should My Videos Be In?

The most common file format is .mp4, and virtually every media player supports it. Apple tends to go its own way, so its machines usually create videos in a .mov format which Apple’s QuickTime player supports. Other file formats are .wmv, .avi and .mkv.

What’s the Best Media Player for Videos?

VLC is one of the most popular media players in the world, and for good reason. It has lots of amazing features such as the file rebuilder that we described above. It also supports a wide range of file types than most media players, and it allows you to do interesting things such as change the aspect ratio of your video and add a subtitle track externally.

Is Something Wrong With My Laptop if a Video Isn’t Playing?

The most serious problem that can stop your laptop from playing a video is a damaged hard drive, but that’s the only issue that would require an expensive fix. Most other issues are easy to fix on your own, and usually occur because of corrupted data that can be easily replaced. The problems we have discussed above cover virtually every possible cause for videos not playing.

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