Best Free Streaming Media Recorder

 
Introduction

Sick of just watching streamed videos and audio tracks, and not being able to save them? So are many others, and this demand has given rise to nearly a dozen utilities that will record them to your PC.

While it is possible to record streaming media, you need to be very aware that a lot of streamed content is copyrighted and that recording such content may violate the copyright laws of your country.

So, in advising you about products that record streaming media I am assuming you only want to record non-copyright material. Right?

The bad news is that the best recording utilities in this category are shareware not freeware. That is because the websites of most of the better free programs like StreamBox VCR and GetASFStream have been 'chased off' the web by copyright owners and their lawyers. You can still occasionally locate the aforementioned software on obscure download sites, but none of them are stable enough to warrant listing here.

A better option for most users is to use a free web service to record the streaming media, and if that fails, simply record the streaming media while it is playing on your PC.

 
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Discussion

If you just want to do something simple like record a YouTube video, then sites like ZamZar, SplanDoo and YouConvertIt will do the job for you. Just fill in the address of the stream and select the format you want and you are finished. Depending on which site you've chosen, either a download link will be emailed to you or you will be able to download the captured file directly from the site. Unfortunately, this simple approach will not work for many streams. In this situation I suggest you simply play the media stream on your PC and record what is happening on the screen and coming out of your speakers.

Sure, there is some loss of quality, but the great advantage of this approach is that it completely bypasses the whole question of DRM protection: if you can play it on your PC then you can record it from your PC. And you can record it in a form that is free of any protection and can therefore, be replayed through any device that supports the appropriate file format.

 

Jing is my favorite and has been obviously designed to make an impression on users as its graphical user interface (GUI) is eye-catching with animating effects. Quality of recorded stream is excellent and by far outperforms every program mentioned in this section. But this comes at a cost as it uses between 30-60 MB of RAM which might be a bit too much to run on older machines.

Other interesting features are: image capturing; ability to manually select recording area on your screen; and playing created videos in its own video player.

Jing is also the only application which automatically saves your recordings to vendor's servers and creates links for public viewing - which is a splendid feature. Unfortunately, Jing saves videos in .swf format only and the free version records for a maximum of 5 minutes.

 

Of all applications in this category Debut offers the most: including the ability to record sound and video from a webcamera and VCR. So, if you are looking for a variety of features over quality of recordings then this is your app of choice.

It is basically an entire video editing application which, beside recording, can also edit videos in many ways including: applying watermarks; text; and even adjusting video colors.

Further advantages of Debut are scheduler, image capturing and saving video in the most popular video formats such as .avi and .mp4.

 

Just as you can record streaming videos playing on your PC, you can also record audio streams playing through your PC speakers.

In fact there are several free and shareware programs designed specifically for this task, but my favorite way of doing this is to use the record option which is available in the Audacity audio editor.

By using Audacity, you can not only record streaming audio but edit it as well.

 

All these solutions bypass the format problems and DRM protection issues. They don't; however, bypass the legal issues. I am not going to preach to you on this matter; instead I trust in your good judgement.

 

Krut in particular works well though it can only output video files in .mov and audio in .wav formats. However, the output files can readily be converted to other formats using free conversion sites like ZamZar and YouConvertIt. There are some traps with Krut, particularly with video card and sound card settings.

In comparison, to other streaming media recorders in this category, Krut delivers almost the same good quality as Jing and further shines at recording streams, almost without interruptions, which usually come in the form of short time delays measured in milliseconds.

 
Quick Selection Guide

Jing
4
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
feature rich, excellent recording quality, online sharing
swf format only
http://www.jingproject.com/
2.4.10231
6.4 MB
Unrestricted freeware
WinXP, Vista, Windows 7 and 8, Mac OS X

Additional requirements: Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0, online registration

Debut
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
feature rich, good recording quality
resource hungry
1.4.9
1.5 MB
Free for private use only
Windows XP - Windows 8

For earlier Windows versions see vendor's homepage

From the developers website:

During installation of this download you will be given the option to install Google® Chrome and closely related programs from the NCH Software suite. These are optional and you can select what you want depending on your requirements.

Audacity
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
feature rich, top audio application
just records audio stream, a bit complicated
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
2.0.5
21.15 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8
Krut
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
good recording function
only output files in .MOV and .WAV formats, complicated
0.9.3
5.0 MB
Unrestricted freeware
Windows, Mac, Linux

 
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Comments

by Coffee Frog on 18. December 2013 - 18:33  (113035)

MP3 Direct Cut is also a nice little freeware program. It takes a bit of time to configure the audio source, but, once that's done, it works very well.

by cybersun on 13. October 2013 - 1:44  (111447)

One simple question: what are the FILE SIZE RESTRICTIONS on these SOFTWARE. Ok Jing is 5 mins.
I have read CAMSTUDIO is 2 GB... What is KRUT's?

I am interested in knowing either in TIME UNITS (MINS, HRS, SECS) or FILE SIZE ( KB,MB or GB) the limitations of these SWR.

If they are limited to 5 mins or something like that, it's of zero interest to me.

Now if there are ways to change the recording parameters, such as FRAME RATE, to accommodate more time in order to comply with a given MAX FILE SIZE, then I would appreciate knowing.

Unfortunately NONE of these in their WEB SITES, PAGES, FAQ or whatever is clear on that point.

by texasbigbird54 on 28. July 2013 - 5:37  (109686)

I just finished testing Jing, CamStudio and Debut (free version) for use in recording streaming videos to save on my computer. I have a Win 7, 64 bit machine. In my opinion, Debut wins hands down in this regard for ease of use and video quality while keeping the file size small. I had a lot of problems and errors with CamStudio 2.7 and became frustrated after tinkering with it for most of an afternoon. I got great results using their lossless codec, but the file sizes were astronomical, and using other codecs resulted in poorer quality than with Debut. Sometimes after recording I could not save the file to disk as I would receive an error and the recording would just disappear. The program was just in a word...clunky. Jing was a total waste of time. I should have read the fine print, as a five minute recording limit is worthless to me, so I immediately uninstalled it without further use. Otherwise, Jing may be a good program if short video captures is all you would need.

by sai reddy on 13. May 2013 - 14:27  (107717)

There are many softwares i would like to recommend as there are only a few softwares which are present here. All the softwares which i am recommeding here are the softwares which are easy to install, compatible ,user friendly and free to download. The list is as follows:

Any video recorder

[Moderator's note: Commercial program names edited out. Undesired program suggestion edited out. Unnecessary comment about the review edited out. Money making suggestion edited out.]

by reneeautumn on 19. February 2013 - 21:05  (105556)

I've been using Free Hi-Q Recorder for some time now. It's very easy to use. Virus Total scores it with a 1/46. I also used Malwarebytes to scan it and it found nothing.

It has a paid version, but I'm happy with the free version. Records any sound that you can hear through your speakers.

It won't auto tag your recordings, but I don't know of any that will except for one that is not free and it has a 3/43 score re Virus Total. Hope this helps.

PS This is an audio only recorder.

by Anupam on 19. February 2013 - 21:16  (105558)

For ordinary use, it might be OK, but I should point out that the free version does not record audio at higher bit rates, of CD quality or more, which is a drawback, if one wants to record sound at a higher bitrate, which will ensure a high quality.

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