Content Creation

How Long Does HD Processing Take on YouTube?

Vukasin Ilic 7 min read
Table of Contents

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced YouTube creator, you’ve surely wondered “why is this video taking so long to upload?”.

Processing content on YouTube can take a long time and depends on many factors.

There’s no definite answer for how long it can take, but there are plenty of indicators.

That’s why this guide aims to tell you more about video processing, how long it can take for different resolution levels, what can influence it, and how you can improve the speed at which your videos are uploaded.

With all these answers, you’ll be able to move onto more important tasks while your video is being uploaded to your channel for your audience to enjoy.

What Is Video Processing?

Video processing happens on YouTube when you try to upload a file and it is changed to better fit the platform. Several things happen during this process.

The Format Is Converted

YouTube recommends that you upload your video in .MP4 format. This is because that’s how it will be stored on the platform’s servers.

You can use other formats like .MOV, .AVI, and many more, but this can prolong the processing stage because the file will need to be converted.

New Resolutions Become Available

Once the video file is in the right format, it will be copied and converted to other resolutions.

You’ve probably noticed how you can change the quality of a video using the settings when you’re watching it.

Each of the different resolutions, from 144p to 2160p (4k), is another version of the file that needs to be stored.

This happens because YouTube wants to have all videos available for everyone, whether they’re using high-speed internet on their computer or a 3G connection on their phone.

By showing videos in different quality levels, buffer times can be reduced.

Audio Is Optimized

Video processing doesn’t just include your visuals. The codecs used for storing and reproducing audio also need to be optimized to the best format for great results.

YouTube Checks for Errors

As the video is being processed, the system can see if it’s copyrighted material, if it exceeds the length you can upload, if it’s a duplicate video, or if it’s inappropriate.

You’ll get an error message (more on those below) if any of these issues come up.

Which Factors Influence Your Video’s Processing Time?

As you can imagine, not all videos upload at the same speed.

There are many factors which will influence how fast a video can be processed on YouTube, like:

  • Video quality - resolution, frame rate, bitrate, and more influence the overall quality of your video. The higher the levels of each, the more time your file will take to process.
  • File size/Video length - The higher the quality and the longer the video, the bigger the file will be. Larger files take up more space and need longer to be processed.
  • Format - as mentioned before, the format of your video will be changed so it can be optimized for YouTube’s servers. This will increase the processing time for your content.
  • Internet speed - you’ve probably noticed how slow internet speeds worsen the quality or increase the buffering time of videos you watch. This happens because the connection isn’t the best for downloading the content. Uploading causes the same issue.

How Long Does HD Processing Take on YouTube?

Now that you’ve seen what factors influence video processing, you’ll understand how the uploading times will increase as the video quality increases.

External factors like internet speed will alter the overall processing time, but here are some average times for uploading videos in full HD (1080p), QHD (1440p), and 4k (2160p).

Full HD Processing

The time needed to process a standard one-minute video in full HD is around 60 seconds. So, if your video is five minutes long, it will take about five minutes to process it.

You might record with a higher frame rate though. At 60fps, your one-minute video should take around 90 seconds to upload.

QHD Processing

QHD stands for quad high-definition and means a video resolution of 1440p.

It takes about 90 seconds to upload one minute of standard video in this resolution.

Five minute videos will need about seven and a half minutes to process.

With a higher frame rate of 60fps, the processing time can go up to about 135 seconds (two minutes and 15 seconds).

4k Processing

4k processing takes a lot longer than lower resolutions because there is so much information packed into each frame.

For a one-minute video in 4k, it will take over four minutes to upload and process it. A five-minute video will need around 20 minutes to process.

And with a frame rate of 60fps, it will take even longer. Between six and seven minutes for a one-minute video.

How To Check the Processing Status of Your YouTube Video?

When you upload a video to be processed, it will be converted to different quality levels, starting with the lowest.

This way, viewers with any kind of connection can watch your video.

Throughout the process, you’ll notice an icon in the bottom left corner that says SD, HD, or 4k. This will depend on the max resolution you’re uploading the video in. Each of the three levels of quality will be given a processing estimate so you can know more or less how long it will take to finish getting them ready for viewing.

While this is happening, you can start filling in the important information like the title, description, tags, and more while you wait.

However, if you start feeling a bit bored, you can save your details and exit the processing screen.

This doesn’t mean it will stop uploading though. Just make sure you don’t close the browser tab.

If you want to check the processing status again, it’s really easy with these steps:

  • On the YouTube Studio page, click Content in the left menu.
  • Press the Details button (🖉) for the video that is processing.
  • On the right side, under the Video link and Filename it says Video quality. As each level of resolution is processed, it will appear here, from SD, to HD, to 4k.

Important tip: if you only want your video to be public when it’s available in HD, you should set the visibility to Private.

Once the processing is ready in 1080p, you can change it to Public. Otherwise, viewers will be able to see it before the best quality is ready.

So, if you want to publish your video at a certain time in HD or even 4k, make sure to start uploading it well in advance so it’s ready in the best quality for the scheduled time.

Errors When Processing

Processing doesn’t always go smoothly. You might run into errors like:

  • Content Claim and Copyright
  • Video Length
  • Duplicate Video
  • Inappropriate Content

If your video infringes any copyright restrictions, it will be flagged as it’s being processed.

You can’t use any material that doesn’t belong to you, from videos to images to music.

Video Length

You can’t upload a video that is longer than 15 minutes if your account is unverified.

This goes up to 12 hours or 256GB, whichever is less.

For example, a 12-hour video that is 200GB, or a 10-hour video that is 256GB. If you go over any of these values, processing will stop.

Duplicate Video

Duplicated videos aren’t allowed on your channel.

You’ll need to stick to the original, delete the original and upload the newer video, or make changes to the newer video and upload it. It won’t show as a duplicate if you have a few small changes.

Inappropriate Content

You can’t just upload any kind of content to YouTube. Videos that go against the Community Guidelines will give you an error message to say that the content is inappropriate.

If for some reason this doesn’t happen during processing, you can be reported later on.

How To Reduce Processing Time

Speeding up the processing stage is possible with a few simple tricks.

These can depend on how you create your videos, what browser you’re using, and your internet connection.

Optimize Your Edit

Shortening your videos will make them smaller. This will make it quicker to upload and process them.

Keeping this in mind can also help you trim the fat off your content.

Do you really need such a long intro? Or those extra 10 seconds of the guy talking before he slips into the pool?

Optimizing your videos in the editing process can help you keep your audience engaged and reduce processing times. You can check your metrics (like average view duration) to prove it.

Use The Best Formats

YouTube recommends uploading videos in .MP4 format with an H.264 video codec and an AAC audio codec.

If you use other formats and codecs, they will need to be converted, making the process longer.

Use The Right Browser and Keep It Up to Date

There are many browsers to choose from, and most work well for uploading YouTube videos.

However, everyone knows the dangers of using Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. Stick to the best browsers like Chrome and Firefox.

Once you’ve picked the best browser for you, make sure you keep it up to date. Outdated browsers can slow down all processes, not just uploading to YouTube.

Delete Cache

This isn’t always necessary, but deleting your cache and browsing history can help speed up your browser and video processing.

Reduce Internet Usage

The more bandwidth you use on other tasks, the slower the processing stage will be.

Close other browser tabs, especially the ones you use for watching videos.

If you want to watch Netflix and process a video at the same time, you may as well do neither.

Turning off VPNs always makes a big difference. They add filters to disguise your location which also get in the way between you and YouTube.

Bottom Line

Calculating processing times isn’t an exact science, but you can have some idea how long it will take with a good internet connection.

For HD videos, around one minute of processing for one minute of content can be common. This increases for higher resolutions, frame rates, bitrates, and more.

Optimizing your bandwidth by stopping other tasks and VPNs can make a difference to the processing stage.

You can also reduce your videos’ length to the absolute essentials, render them in the right formats, and use a good browser.

No matter how long it takes, use the time wisely to add details to your videos, like titles, descriptions, tags, and more.

Or, just chill out for a while, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy the day.

Do you use any extra tricks for reducing processing times? Let other readers know in the comments section.


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