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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.

 
In a Hurry?

Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 
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.

by Ratzo on 31. December 2012 - 6:53  (104115)

Audacity is available for Windows®, Mac®, GNU/Linux® and other operating systems.

by Joesef Soap (not verified) on 23. November 2012 - 21:16  (102813)

Can Streaming Video Recorder record these RTE Videos?...
http://www.radiofones.com/no-save-rte-video-.jpg

from here...
http://www.rte.ie/tv/meaningoflife/player.html

Other than screen capture, is itpossible?

by sicknero on 8. September 2012 - 22:28  (98971)

Streaming video - I'm deeply chuffed to report that that free version of VSO Downloader is fully working again. Great news, it's definitely the best at what it does imo.

Streaming audio - While looking for an alternative to (the temporarily non-working) VSO, I came across a rather neat freeware toolbox called "aTube Catcher", and have to say I'm rather impressed. For starters it can record streaming audio on both my W7 x64 Acer and my x86 desktop. Very easy - in the 'audio recorder' tab just tick the 'capture audio from speakers' box, and off you go.
You're stuck with the app's own recorder, you can't re-route it into anything else, and if your rig is under stress at all then you'll end up with a stuttery recording. Also you can't check the result until the recording ends, as it has no direct monitoring. Still, it's not bad at a pinch and so far is the best (only) free solution I've found to this Windows 7 issue. There is one called Jack, which in combination with ASIO4ALL looked quite promising, but I couldn't get it to work for me sadly. I'm not even sure if it would do what I wanted.
There are several good commercial apps that will do this and a whole lot more, and not too pricey, but I'll say no more about that as I'm on a freeware site.

As well as the audio capture, aTube has tools for video and mp3 search/download, video/audio convertors, rippers and burners, a screen recorder that seems to work very well, streaming video capture, and some neat tools dedicated to Youtube. One that I like a lot is a tool to download all the videos from a user's channel. Great stuff for the incurable collector. All in all a pretty impressive collection.

Edit - (@Johnno) I just popped over to NCH to check out SoundTap, but like a lot of NCH's great software it's no longer free.)

by alexxx46 on 12. October 2012 - 8:25  (100675)

A word of caution from Softpedia for aTube Catcher:

Users are advised to pay attention while installing this ad-supported application:

· Offers to change the homepage for web browsers installed in the system
· Offers to change the default search engine for web browsers installed in the system
· Offers to download or install software or components (such as browser toolbars) that the program does not require to fully function.

My personal experience: on install, aTube Catcher did not offer to install any additional apps or modify any system settings.

by MidnightCowboy on 12. October 2012 - 9:43  (100683)

Sorry, but your last sentence is incorrect. Despite having this towards the beginning of their EULA...

"THIS SOFTWARE IS DISTRIBUTED FREE AND CLEAN OF ANY KIND OF HARMFUL/UNWANTED SOFTWARE".

.. a little further on you see this...

The installer may suggest you the installation of the aTube Toolbar branded by Ask and denominated here and after as "the offer". By clicking "Next" you allow to run a software checker that will connect to the internet to verify wether this offer is available for you or not but WITHOUT INSTALLING IT. You shall read each setup page in order to accept or decline the installation of the offer".

...and then this...

"B. OpenCandy End User License Agreement (EULA)" :)

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/controversial-advertising-progra...

The moment you run the installer it connects to the internet and then tries to "communicate" with various Windows component services and every installed program that you have.

Especially with this type of media software, users should assume that everything "free" has some sort of hidden "catch" attached.

by alexxx46 on 12. October 2012 - 10:38  (100689)

Maybe I should have made my last statement somewhat more explicit :)
Well, I installed the app inside Sandboxie. During the process I did not see any messages offering to install additional software or change something in my system settings. Of course it does not imply that aTube Catcher is adware/spyware free. On the contrary, I believe it is not, as some programs install badware without explicit user consent.

by MidnightCowboy on 12. October 2012 - 11:03  (100691)

You are correct, and illustrate a prime example of why Sandboxie is such a good program. I personally prefer to surf unfettered and use ToolWiz Time Freeze to test out new programs. Even without a sandbox however there could be other reasons why nothing "extra" is offered during the install process including the "offered" programs already being installed, or an automated firewall block for the original connection.

by richjenn13 (not verified) on 31. August 2012 - 8:04  (98553)

For new readers to this very useful page, Audacity was the bees knees [despite being a long haul to get your head round initially] for Streaming AUDIO, if you run it on XP.

On Win7 it does not, and will not, record streaming audio. I have finally resigned myself to having a seperate PC [my old single core one] which I use purely for Audacity! A complete pain.

by Century22 on 12. August 2012 - 20:15  (97621)

I tried them all (again). All of them were useless.
Audio records fine in many cases but no video.

by g2mXagent (not verified) on 19. July 2012 - 6:24  (96384)

"Jing videos are limited to 5 minutes for instant, focused communication."

So, it not a choose.

by richjenn13 (not verified) on 30. June 2012 - 11:01  (95584)

Sadly Audacity won't record Streams with Windows 7.

Worked a treat with XP. Spent days faffing with settings, lots of people report this problem.

Any one who has found a reliable solution, love to hear about it!

richjenn13

by sicknero on 1. July 2012 - 13:03  (95622)

I've not tried this myself yet. Well, I did as far as the "I still don't see it" step and I don't need it enough right now to chase down old drivers.

Let us know how you get on though.

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/39532/how-to-enable-stereo-mix-in-windows...

by Papakid (not verified) on 30. August 2012 - 18:35  (98526)

I'm in the same boat. I looked at the site too before coming here, but my sound card on a brand new computer with an 8 core processor doesn't support Stereo Mix and I don't want to start on old drivers either. Does anyone know of a freeware sound recording app that includes a virtual sound card--other than Freecorder--I would rather pay than jump thru all those hoops mentioned earlier.

BTW, while looking around the wondershare site I found a free Youtube recorder that actually works. I don't know what Youtube has done lately but the two apps that used to work, iWisoft and the Download Helper Firefox extension, don't anymore. I even tried the beta tool included with JetAudio with no luck. Actually, iWisoft works, it downloads the right file size but the length is listed as 0 seconds. Anyway, Wondershare's downloader works if you use the url copy and paste method--the Download button didn't work for me. It also includes native playback, just be sure, when installing, to uncheck the toolbar and some kind of facebook app. It's a bit different in that the option to decline the optional installs don't come til the end of the installation process. I don't know if there is anything dodgy about it, since I just installed it and used it once to retrieve a home video I had uploaded to YouTube. I'll post back if I find anything.

by Papakid (not verified) on 15. October 2012 - 14:35  (100786)

After researching this some more I've found out that we should be looking at a hardware/firmware solution instead of software. If you read the How to Geek instructions linked to above and find yourself at the point where there is no "stereo mix" (or similar wording) option because your Windows 7 sound card does not support it, you can work around it with a couple of cables. Get a 3.5 mm cable--shortest you can find--with male connectors on both ends. Then plug one end into your computer's speaker jack and the other into your computer's line in jack. On my sound card I then had to enable the line in device, but after that was able to use JetAudio's recorder and was actually able to use the Download Helper Firefox extension to download a Youtube vid--your mileage may vary. I haven't tried Audacity yet but it should work as well. This is much better, IMO, than looking for old drivers. You're giving yourself the ability to record off your speakers, which is what the "stereo mix" does when available.

Also, in order to listen to your speakers while recording, you'll need a Speaker and Headphone Splitter--plug it into the computer's speaker jack first, then one side goes to line in, while the other goes to your speakers.

This won't work for you if you're using HDMI to connect to your monitor, because both audio and video is handled through your graphics card (as I understand it), so your sound card is being bypassed. That I have no idea how to fix, but the cables should help if you use DVI and/or VGA connections.

by sicknero on 10. May 2012 - 9:03  (93297)

A couple of comments...

First, @ AJNorth; Endless thanks for the link to 'Radio Downloader', absolutely brilliant!
Like you I've looked for ages, for a way to record iPlayer stuff. And only yesterday (after an unsuccessful experiment with 'iPlayer Desktop', hmm) I was pretty much resigned to either doing it the fiddly way (line-out to line-in and recording it in real-time... far from ideal), or using the nightmarish 'Freecorder Toolbar'. But Radio Downloader as you say, works a treat. Great stuff, thank you very much.

I've just tried out TubeMaster (thanks for the suggestion, Bear Bottoms).
But I found that if you close the window you're downloading the vid from, then Tubemaster stops downloading.I really like TubeMaster's MP3/Video search capabilities. It's worth keeping just for those.

by virginiajim on 8. August 2012 - 22:00  (97427)

I just reinstalled Freecorder from Applian Technologies because the several Gizmo's excellent-sounding programs to capture streaming audio didn't work for me. Several couldn't find a recording device on my Windows Vista laptop or didn't appear to be able to do sound only. I appreciate the effort there, too. Then I went searching and installed a couple likely candidates and they couldn't find the recording device. Several suggested checking/updating device drivers, which I did to no effect.

I tried 'Radio Downloader' but it doesn't seem to record streaming audio. It requires care during installation to avoid undesirable add-ons.

Anyway, I went back to Freecorder despite the fact that you also have to be very careful when installing to not check or accept any of the many undesirable add-ons. I had accidentally deleted it awhile back and a reinstallation of a newer version included some side-effects I presume were due to a failure to watch what was happening during the installation. This time it doesn't seem to have caused the same problems, yet. AND it does do a nice simple job of recording any streaming audio. It does put a tool bar on browsers, but I only allow it on one that I seldom use and the slight reduction of viewing is therefore less of a problem.

This posting is to cast a vote for Freecorder from Applian Technology for recording streaming audio. I've used the earlier version for two years.

by Squid (not verified) on 14. June 2012 - 16:11  (94865)

I've got tubemaster running, but every time I press save, nothing saves. and when I try to convert, there's always an error, no matter what format I choose. I'm desperate to have this video ready in a few hours, I spent all day yesterday trying to figure it out.

Thank you!

by Birkoff on 11. May 2012 - 8:12  (93347)

Thanks for sharing this with us sicknero. Useful contribution!

by Gully Foyle (not verified) on 7. April 2012 - 23:13  (91761)

Why is Jing included in this list (except perhaps in a footnote about payware)? Aren't these contradictory claims about Jing: "Unrestricted freeware" <-> "free version records only 5 minutes"?

by HMonk on 8. April 2012 - 3:31  (91763)

Jing and the now defunct Jing Pro (a.k.a. paid version) were always limited to five minutes record time. Techsmith is now pushing Snagit as a Jing Pro replacement of sorts although it's been around for a while. Existing Jing Pro licenses were converted to free Jing licenses (arguably, the paid version did not get one significant bennies). Rather than being time-limited, Snagit has a 1GB AVI file size limit.

Monk

by Blakey (not verified) on 3. March 2012 - 14:32  (89858)

Why do I get this when trying to install Jing ?

avast has finished analysis of the program

We did not find enough evidence etc.....

However you should still use extreme caution when accessing it.

by MidnightCowboy on 3. March 2012 - 15:54  (89861)

Please consult your antivirus help file to understand what a reputation warning means because not all vendors use the same criteria.

by Tod on 28. February 2012 - 17:06  (89644)

Those are all screen capture programs, no? I'm looking for a capture software that records streaming live videos not via PC screen but via URL directly. Is there no such freeware?

by Anupam on 28. February 2012 - 17:21  (89645)

I think StreamTransport mentioned in a comment below can do that.

Do you want to download streaming videos, or videos on sites like YouTube, Vimeo?