How Long Does HD Processing Take on YouTube in 2024?

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Muninder Adavelli
Written by
Muninder Adavelli

Updated · Jan 02, 2024

Muninder Adavelli
Digital Growth Strategist | Joined October 2021 | Twitter LinkedIn
Muninder Adavelli

Muninder Adavelli is a core team member and Digital Growth Strategist at Techjury. With a strong bac... | See full bio

Edited by
Dushko Talevski


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With over 500 hours of YouTube video posted every minute, it’s no wonder video processing is sometimes very time-consuming.

So how long does HD processing take on YouTube? Or uploading higher-definition videos, for that matter? Can we speed it up?

Here is everything you need to know.

What Is Video Processing on YouTube?

If you’ve ever posted a video on YouTube, you know that it must go through video processing, during which your original video file is compressed, and YouTube makes several copies in different resolutions up to the original video quality.

However, the platform will first process the low-quality versions so that the video goes live faster, and you’ll have to wait for several hours until the remaining higher-quality resolutions are processed and become available.

When processing your video, YouTube also re-encodes it to optimize its playback quality by reducing its size and adapting its format to a standard one. That said, you can upload videos in any format from .MOV to .MP4 and .FLV.

Factors That Affect YouTube Video Processing Times

When uploading a video to YouTube, the time it takes for it to be fully processed and available in maximum quality varies depending on a few factors:

1. Video Quality

The video quality, including its resolution, framerate, and audio and video bitrate, directly affect the processing times of your YouTube uploads.

Therefore, high-resolution videos that pack in more frames and data per second have drastically increased upload times over standard videos.

For instance, a one-hour 4K video with 30 frames per second will take about 4 hours to complete its high-resolution processing. With a doubled framerate at 60 fps, that same video upload would take much longer than that.

2. Video Length/File Size

Naturally, the video length also affects the processing times of your uploads because the lengthier the file, the bigger it is, and the more time it takes to process.

So, while a shorter video that lasts a few minutes may process in ten minutes or less, a video that lasts an hour or longer may take up to several hours to go live.

3. Video Format

Another important factor affecting your video uploads is the format of your videos, as different formats change the video’s size.

Having said that, YouTube recommends you convert your videos to the .MP4 format before uploading them and use H.264 as a video codec, AAC-LC as an audio codec, and a standard aspect ratio of 16:9.

4. Internet Speed

Your internet speed also affects your experience watching, uploading, and downloading YouTube videos. For your video to be uploaded and processed in a reasonable time frame, you should have an upload speed of at least 20 Mbps.

So, if you plan to upload high-quality videos regularly, consider getting a fiber optic connection with symmetrical internet speeds.

Note: Even if you lose your internet connection during longer uploads, you have 24 hours to pick up where you left off by selecting the same file for upload.

How Long Does It Take YouTube to Process a Video?

When you first upload your video, its standard version (480p) is processed relatively quickly. However, its higher quality copies in Full HD (1080p), QHD (1440p), and 4K (2160p) may continue processing for quite some time, depending on their length. For that reason, let’s look at the processing times under different circumstances.

1. How Long Does HD Processing Take on YouTube?

Generally speaking, it takes YouTube between 30 and 45 seconds to process a one-minute HD video. Going by that, here are the expected time frames for longer HD videos:

  • 2-minute HD video: 1 to 1.5 minutes
  • 5-minute HD video: 3 to 5 minutes
  • 10-minute HD video: 6 to 10 minutes
  • 20-minute HD video: 12 to 20 minutes

2. How Long Does QHD Processing Take on YouTube?

Also referred to as 1440p, QHD is a significant step-up over HD as it offers almost double the quality over 1080p, but its YouTube processing times increase as well:

  • 2-minute QHD video: 1.5 to 2 minutes
  • 5-minute QHD video: 4 to 6 minutes
  • 10-minute QHD video: 8 to 12 minutes
  • 20-minute QHD video: 16 to 24 minutes

3. How Long Does 4K Processing Take on YouTube?

Considered to be the new modern standard, 4K videos quadruple the pixel count of 1080p content, so their processing times may take up to several hours: 

  • 2-minute 4K video: 4 to 8 minutes
  • 5- minute 4K video: 10 to 20 minutes
  • 10-minute 4K video: 20 to 40 minutes
  • 20-minute 4K video: 40 to 80 minutes

How to Improve the YouTube Video Processing Times?

If your YouTube video uploads are taking forever, there are several methods to speed up the process to an extent:

1. Stop Unnecessary Tasks and Internet Usage

Uploading anything online takes a portion of your PC processing power, which may affect your uploads if you run other processes simultaneously.

The more impactful factor, however, is your available upload bandwidth. When you upload a YouTube video, you should avoid using your internet for other bandwidth-heavy uses, especially those that include data uploads.

For these reasons, while processing a video, do not run any resource-heavy programs and do not use your internet to upload anything else.

2. Make Sure Your File Is Optimized

As a rule of thumb, you should always ensure your videos use the most efficient video and audio codecs and do not include unnecessary content.

To achieve that, edit your videos properly and try to balance size and quality by choosing a suitable bitrate, framerate, formats, and codecs.

3. Schedule Your Videos Ahead of Time

If you are unsure when you need your video to go live, initiate the upload sooner than expected and schedule the video to become available at a specific time.

Before doing that, however, you should figure out the best time to upload your content to reach your target audience with your specific topic.

Then, simply proceed with the standard upload procedure until you come to the ‘Visibility’ tab, where you can find the ‘Schedule’ option that allows you to set your video’s date, time, and time zone.

4. Don’t Use a VPN Service

While using a virtual private network (VPN) helps you maintain your online privacy and access every web domain, it still has a few downsides, the most important of which is the bandwidth overhead it uses to encrypt your data.

Because of that, VPNs affect your internet speeds and, in turn, the rate at which YouTube processes your videos. So, to speed up your YouTube uploads, temporarily turn off your VPN service when publishing new content.

How to Check If Your Video Has HD Quality?

While your video is first available to watch in low quality so it can be quickly streamed on a wide variety of devices, HD quality will take a while to finalize processing.

Until the process finishes (up to several hours), the higher quality settings will be absent from your video, which you can check for at any time by visiting your video’s watch page, selecting ‘Settings’ (the cog icon), then clicking on ‘Quality’.

Note: If you want your viewers to watch your video in high resolution only, unlist it until the HD processing is complete.

Bottom Line

So, how long does HD processing take on YouTube? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, as the time to process your videos depend on more than just their resolution, and it includes the video length, file format, and upload speeds.

That said, you can expect to post 20-minute HD videos in about 20 minutes on YouTube. However, when it comes to higher resolutions, such as QHD and 4K, the time frame will increase by the same factor as the video quality boost.


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