I've got some videos on Vimeo that I want move over to my new channel on YouTube. I can download what Vimeo lists as the 'Original' files, ~2GB H.264 MP4s (20-30mins).

Does YouTube re-encode regardless of the incoming format, or does it just re-mux? I don't want any more video degradation than necessary; I figure YT will re-encode to optimize for delivery to other resolutions / bit-rates, but if my original files are 720p, will they get re-encoded / go through another lossy pass when re-uploaded to YouTube?

And to be clear, these are all /my/ videos (I'm the creator on both channels), so not trying to move someone else's content.

  • A size of 1GB for 10 minutes at 1080P will result in 'OK' quality depending upon the amount of motion, and to a lesser extent colors, in the video. -- Exactly what works and the results has changed over the past years without there necessarily being updated info on the YouTube Help pages. -- Triple that filesize (at least) to get pixel-perfect results.
    – Rob
    Nov 30, 2017 at 18:47

3 Answers 3


Yes, youtube re-encode videos. You can see more information here, and find, which codecs most fits for youtube upload (in case you will make new ones).

As a example of degradation, here is video, which was re-uploaded to youtube 1000 times in 2010 year:

And with different content you will see more degradation. You can see it here at 2:33::

About "When": Re-encoding happens right after uploading in the save progress-bar will be written "Processing" enter image description here


Always. As does Vimeo.

You can as the publisher still access the original upload. That file is retained on youtube’s server.

But even when posting 1080, the public 1080 is a re-encode from your upload.

  • 1
    Do you have a source for this?
    – Geremia
    Jun 25, 2020 at 22:45

The videos you upload are always reencoded to a list of preset sizes. For the videos already uploaded you can see the list of sizes the original has been reencoded to by using some video download browser extension. This allows streaming an appropriate size depending on the screen size, browser window size, available bandwidth, etc. The goal is to save bandwidth.

The original is reencoded even when the parameters are similar with one of the presets to not send to the users content potentially with viruses, exploits, etc.

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