YouTube’s Treasure Trove: A Deep Dive into the Personal Data Collected by YouTube

As one of the most popular video-sharing platforms globally, YouTube has managed to amass an incredible user base.

With over 2 billion logged-in monthly users, it comes as no surprise that the platform has also gathered an immense amount of personal data. But what kind of information does YouTube collect, and how is it used?

In this friendly-toned deep dive, we’ll explore the various types of data YouTube collects from its users and shed light on some examples.

Here’s a table that categorizes the data YouTube collects from its users and the level of sensitivity associated with each category:

Data Category Examples Level of Sensitivity
User-Provided Information Name, email address, phone number, date of birth High
Device Information Hardware model, operating system, unique device identifiers, mobile network information Medium
Usage Information Videos watched, search queries, video interactions (likes, dislikes, comments, shares, subscriptions), duration and frequency of visits, interaction with ads Medium
Location Information IP address, GPS data, device sensor data Medium
Cookies and Similar Technologies Language preferences, saved settings, browsing history Low

Please note that the level of sensitivity is subjective and may vary depending on individual perceptions and the context in which the data is used.

And if this scares you, maybe look into getting a VPN and protect your data – I use NordVPN, super cheap, super safe!

1: Types of Data Collected by YouTube

1.1 User-Provided Information When you create a YouTube account or use any Google services, you’ll typically provide some personal information such as your name, email address, phone number, and date of birth. This information allows YouTube to create and maintain your account, as well as provide you with a personalized experience.

1.2 Device Information YouTube collects data about the devices you use to access the platform, including hardware model, operating system, unique device identifiers, and mobile network information. This information helps YouTube optimize the user experience for different devices and provide relevant content based on your device’s capabilities.

1.3 Usage Information As you interact with YouTube, the platform collects information about your activity, such as:

  • Videos you watch
  • Your search queries
  • Your video interactions (likes, dislikes, comments, shares, and subscriptions)
  • The duration and frequency of your visits
  •  Your interaction with ads

This data enables YouTube to analyse trends, improve its services, and offer personalized content and recommendations.

1.4 Location Information YouTube may also gather information about your geographical location through various means, such as IP addresses, GPS, or other sensors in your device. This information is used to provide location-based services, such as localized content and targeted advertisements.

1.5 Cookies and Similar Technologies Like most websites, YouTube uses cookies and similar technologies to collect and store information about your preferences and interests. This allows the platform to remember your settings, such as language preferences, and provide a more seamless experience.

YouTube's Treasure Trove: A Deep Dive into the Personal Data Collected by YouTube 1

2: Examples of Personal Data Collected by YouTube

Here are some examples of the personal data YouTube may collect from its users:

Data Category Examples
User-Provided Information Name, email address, phone number, date of birth
Device Information Hardware model, operating system, unique device identifiers, mobile network information
Usage Information Videos watched, search queries, video interactions (likes, dislikes, comments, shares, subscriptions), duration and frequency of visits, interaction with ads
Location Information IP address, GPS data, device sensor data
Cookies and Similar Technologies Language preferences, saved settings, browsing history

3: How YouTube Uses Personal Data

3.1 Personalization and Recommendations YouTube uses the personal data it collects to provide you with a more personalized experience. This includes tailoring video recommendations based on your watch history, search queries, and video interactions. It also helps YouTube suggest relevant channels for you to subscribe to, ensuring you get content that matches your interests.

3.2 Targeted Advertising YouTube’s parent company, Google, generates a significant portion of its revenue from advertising. By collecting personal data, YouTube can provide targeted ads to its users based on their interests, location, and demographics. This approach makes the ads more relevant and useful, which benefits both users and advertisers.

3.3 Security and Fraud Prevention The personal data collected by YouTube also plays a crucial role in maintaining the platform’s security. By analyzing user activity and patterns, YouTube can identify and prevent potential security threats, such as hacking attempts or fraudulent activities.

3.4 Improving Services YouTube continually works on improving its platform and services. To do this effectively, it relies on the data collected from its users. By understanding user behavior, preferences, and trends, YouTube can make informed decisions on new features and optimizations.

3.5 Legal Compliance In some cases, YouTube may use personal data to comply with legal obligations, such as responding to lawful requests for information from law enforcement agencies or regulatory bodies.


YouTube’s vast user base and extensive data collection practices may seem overwhelming. However, understanding what personal data is collected and how it is used can help users make more informed decisions about their online privacy.

YouTube primarily collects data to enhance user experiences, provide targeted advertising, maintain security, improve its services, and comply with legal obligations.

As a user, it’s essential to be aware of the privacy settings available on YouTube and other online platforms.

You can manage your privacy settings and control the data you share by accessing your Google Account settings. Additionally, you can limit the information collected by using privacy-focused browsers, virtual private networks (VPNs), or even browsing YouTube in incognito mode.

In conclusion, while YouTube does collect a considerable amount of personal data, it’s crucial to understand that this data collection primarily aims to provide a better user experience.

By staying informed and making use of privacy tools, you can enjoy the benefits of YouTube while maintaining control over your personal information.

YouTube's Treasure Trove: A Deep Dive into the Personal Data Collected by YouTube

Q1: How can I manage the personal data collected by YouTube?

A1: You can manage your personal data by accessing your Google Account settings. From there, you can control the data you share, review your activity, and update your privacy settings.

Q2: What are the privacy settings available on YouTube, and how can I adjust them?

A2: You can adjust your privacy settings by visiting your Google Account settings. Some options include controlling your ad personalization, managing your YouTube history (watch and search), and choosing your data sharing preferences with Google.

Q3: Can I use YouTube without providing any personal information? A3: Yes, you can use YouTube without signing in. However, you’ll have limited access to features, and your experience will not be personalized based on your interests.

Q4: How does YouTube handle the data of children or users under the age of 13?

A4: YouTube has a separate platform called YouTube Kids, designed for children. YouTube Kids has stricter data collection policies and complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Content creators must designate whether their content is made for children, and data collection is limited for such content.

Q5: How long does YouTube retain my personal data?

A5: YouTube retains your personal data for varying durations depending on the type of data and its purpose. In general, YouTube retains your data for as long as your account is active, and for a reasonable period afterward to comply with legal obligations, enforce its terms of service, and resolve disputes. Some data, such as search history and watch history, can be deleted by the user at any time. If you choose to delete your account, YouTube will start the process of removing your data from its systems, but it may take some time to complete. Keep in mind that specific legal obligations might require YouTube to retain certain data for a longer period.

Q6: Can I request YouTube to delete my personal data?

A6: Yes, you can request the deletion of your personal data by visiting your Google Account settings. You can delete specific data or your entire account, which will remove your personal information from YouTube’s servers.

Q7: Are there any alternative video-sharing platforms with less data collection?

A7: There are several alternative video-sharing platforms with varying data collection policies. Some examples include Vimeo, Dailymotion, and PeerTube. However, it’s essential to review their privacy policies and data collection practices before using them.

Q8: How can I limit targeted advertising on YouTube?

A8: You can limit targeted advertising on YouTube by turning off ad personalization in your Google Account settings. This will prevent YouTube from using your personal data to show you personalized ads.

Q9: Does YouTube share my personal data with third parties, and if so, under what circumstances?

A9: YouTube may share your personal data with third parties in specific situations, such as with your consent, for external processing by trusted service providers, or for legal reasons (e.g., in response to a lawful request from a law enforcement agency).

Q10: What are some additional steps I can take to protect my privacy while using YouTube and other online platforms?

A10: You can use privacy-focused browsers (e.g., Brave or Firefox), enable browser extensions that block trackers and ads, use virtual private networks (VPNs) to mask your location and IP address, and browse YouTube in incognito mode to limit the collection of your personal data.

Q11: How can I access and download the personal data that YouTube has collected about me?

A11: You can access and download your personal data through Google’s “Takeout” service. Visit, sign in to your Google Account, and select the data you wish to download. Once you’ve made your selection, click “Next” and choose a file type and delivery method to receive your data.

Q12: Can I opt-out of certain types of data collection on YouTube?

A12: While you can’t opt-out of all data collection on YouTube, you can manage your privacy settings and limit specific types of data collection, such as ad personalization and YouTube watch/search history. Visit your Google Account settings to control the data you share with YouTube and other Google services.

These questions and answers cover various aspects of YouTube’s personal data collection practices, privacy settings, data management, and alternative options for users who are concerned about their privacy.

Remember – If you want to look after your data, maybe look into getting a VPN – I use NordVPN, super cheap, super safe!


Best VPNs For YouTube

Whether you have a pressing reason to use a VPN for YouTube or you just like to maintain your privacy, you’ll want to make sure you have the best VPN for the job… or at least a VPN that’s up to the job.

This isn’t as straightforward as you might think (for reasons we’ll get into below), so it can help to know what you’re looking for. We’ll explain a little about why it matters which VPN you choose before getting into our top picks.

Why Your Choice of VPN Matters

We won’t spend valuable characters explaining how a VPN (virtual private network) works as you can easily find that information (including on this very site!), but you do need to know that a natural and unavoidable consequence of the way VPNs work is a certain degradation of things like latency and speed.

When your connection is being routed through several other locations before reaching its destination, it’s going to cause a bit of a slow down. Video is a bandwidth-hungry medium, and the slower your connection, the poorer your video-watching experience is going to be.

Latency can also be an issue if you are trying to watch live streams, as you can quickly find yourself out of sync with the video feed, meaning you are essentially not watching the stream live any more.

Now, if you are using a free or cheap VPN, you can be almost guaranteed to not get the kind of service you need to have an enjoyable YouTube watching experience. Of course, if you are going to be paying for your VPN service, you want it to be sure it’s going to deliver on what you need.

With that in mind, let’s get into our best VPN YouTube picks!

Best VPNs For YouTube

Before get into, it’s worth noting that any prices we mention are the best-case prices, which are typically the effective monthly cost when you pay for a full year up front. For example, our first suggestion, SurfShark, is $2.50 a month but only if you pay for 24 months at once. If you want to pay monthly, you’re going to be looking at $12.95 per month. Something to bear in mind. Now, in no particular order, here are our picks;


SurfShark is the first suggestion we’re going to offer, largely because it is the most affordable. At $2.50 per month, SurfShark is almost free, yet still offers the speeds necessary to stream video. Of course, you can’t expect something for nothing, and there are certainly areas where SurfShark is going to fall flat compared to the other VPNs on this list, but purely for use with YouTube, this is as good as you need.

It allows for unlimited connections, meaning you only need the one account for all your devices, even if you have a lot of devices. You get full AES-256 encryption, however there are question marks over the security, as SurfShark has not performed an external audit of its servers and clients, only the browser extensions running on the VPN. It should be fine for getting around content restrictions on YouTube, but we would probably use a different VPN for anything involving sensitive information.


If you’ve been on YouTube at all over the last few years—and we’re pretty sure that includes anyone reading this blog—you’ve probably seen or heard an ad for NordVPN. This VPN has been the subject of a mammoth advertising campaign.

Still, they have a lot to talk about. Their network consists of over 5,000 servers, making it possible to get a quick connection in your desired location when you need it. For your money, you’ll get full high-level encryption and an instant kill-switch, instantly making NordVPN a more secure option than SurfShark.

Of course, you get a connection quality that is more than capable of handling video streaming.

Best VPNs For YouTube 1


ExpressVPN is seen by many as the top option when it comes to the quality of service. You don’t have quite as many servers to choose from as NordVPN, but you do get strong encryption, a wide variety of protocols to choose from, and amazing reliability and speeds.

Probably the biggest con for ExpressVPN to your average YouTuber is their device limit. You can only get five simultaneous devices running on a single ExpressVPN account, so if you have a lot of devices, one of the other VPNs may be a better option.

Hotspot Shield

HotSpot Shield is the very definition of a single-purpose VPN. You don’t get much in the way of features, but you do get lightning fast (in VPN terms) speeds. If all you want to do is stream video, Hotspot Shield is likely the best choice for performance, with over 400mbps speeds. In reality, most users will be bottlenecked by their own connection rather than the VPN.

It is a very straightforward VPN to use, largely owed to the fact that there aren’t many options to mess around with. There are also some concerns about how secure it is, so you might want to keep your sensitive information off for now.


While not as fast as Hotspot Shield, CyberGhost is still a very fast VPN, and with over 6,000 servers, you can be sure of a satisfying experience using this VPN for YouTube.

CyberGhost even includes a data compression tool to reduce the amount of bandwidth being used, making VPN’ing on the go a feasible option. It’s also P2P-optimised, so if you do a lot of torrenting, this could be a good option for you.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the the speed of your chosen VPN will be the primary concern if you want to use it with YouTube. This does not mean you should disregard other concerns, however. For example, if you are going to be using the VPN for sensitive tasks, you should make sure the security is up to scratch, even if that means sacrificing some of the speed that a less secure VPN offers.

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video. can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.