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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 Roger Bertrand (not verified) on 29. July 2011 - 5:34  (76414)

I just installed AUDACITY, looks good, but I detest software that installs without asking for the interface language, or at least offer a quick and dirty method or option to change it.

by Oxa on 26. July 2011 - 0:24  (76232)

I think this review was limited by its inclusion of only all-purpose streaming recorders, i.e., those that handle both video and audio. There are plenty of good audio streaming recorders not mentioned here. I recently downloaded streamWriter and am very impressed with it. It contains thousands of downloadable streams in its browser that can be searched by keyword or genre. It plays, records, and organizes audio streams. It handles whitelists and blacklists of individual songs, and can even accommodate filters for finding a specific song in a stream. Take a look at it:
http://streamwriter.org/en/

by steve s (not verified) on 25. July 2011 - 18:12  (76223)

i cant believe that orbit downloader is'nt in the list, as it is by far the easyist and most reliable streaming video recorder ive ever found, once instaled hover mouse over playing media click on grab it and off you go, plus once the download has started you dont need to stay on the same page so is ideal for multiple downloads

by Roger Bertrand (not verified) on 13. August 2011 - 3:14  (77576)

Orbit does not grab all streaming videos. It often falls short on sites where it cannot ID the URL. THey would need to integrate a URL finder. I tried SNOOPER and it too does not detect some hidden URL.

by Trent Londi (not verified) on 25. May 2011 - 14:18  (72662)

Do any of the mentioned stream recorders here able to record say those videos shown in Justin.tv or in Freedocast.com or any of the LIVE streaming ONLINE TV broadcasts?

Thank you in advance.

by Lektor on 11. March 2011 - 1:09  (67765)

I'm looking for something like Free Music Zilla, but more reliable. I use it mostly for audio but occasional video as well. Some social networks have changed the way their music is streamed lately and this program no longer works at them. Please recomend only freeware programs. Thanks

by dr.pradhan (not verified) on 6. March 2011 - 12:22  (67518)

Sir,

I will be very grateful if you could let me know as to how to get a printout from a stilled video picture while playing the Real Player.

You could suggest another player,if it can do the needful

You could also direct me to some other website/person who has the know how.
Thanks,

by carlsond on 22. June 2011 - 22:57  (74198)

Try the free Grabber utility offered in the web based photo editor Pixlr.com. I use it all the time.

[Edit] Commercial software details removed.

by jimvandamme (not verified) on 7. March 2011 - 1:40  (67548)

I just did that...you just use a screen capture program. Or, use an image editor which has a screen capture built into it. Then, you can edit the picture. I like Gimp to do that usually, but a really easy one is XNView.

by AJNorth on 13. February 2011 - 21:31  (66361)

Greetings,

If that which one desires to capture loads into a browser's cache (such as a Flash video from YouTube or a MP3 audio file), then you're in luck. An app that I've used for many years now is NirSoft's VideoCacheView (Publisher's site: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/video_cache_view.html // CNET review [which needs updating]: http://download.cnet.com/VideoCacheView/3000-2381_4-10781777.html ). It's a brute-force approach but it does get the job done (and works with IE, Firefox, Opera & Chrome).

After capturing the file in question, say a .flv (Flash video), one can convert it to another form, such as a MP4 (or for audio, a MP3) and if, for example, it is one part of a longer stream broken into segments (as one often finds at YouTube), it can then be joined together with other such segments to form a continuous whole using editing software. (A less elegant, but still useful, approach is to simply label the segments in a unique successive order and place them in a file, thus allowing them to play automatically, and virtually without discontinuity, in various media players, such as GOM.) So, for example, if one should like to capture that extraordinary performance of the Finale of Bruckner's 8th by Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic posted at YouTube (in three segments), you are good-to-go.

Hope others find this useful.

by alejobd on 17. November 2010 - 12:52  (61319)

I thank Birkoff for his work, but I think that this issue should be tackled in a different way.
I'm a heavy streaming video downloader, and I'd never used an screen-recording app for that.
That approach has obvious heavy disadvantages:
* You can only download at the pace of reproduction
* Video window should be treated with extreme caution, even, in some cases, should be on top, which hinders other usages of the computer at the same time.

I will only consider this approach as a last ditch effort, and to date I've always found a more convenient way via an Streaming Media Downloader.
I'm quite sure that screen recording apps are more suited, and more used for, teaching computer procedures and remote assistance.
In fact Jing, the favorite app, can only record 5 minutes videos, too little for most streaming videos, but well suited for its stated use as a teaching and remote assistance app.

So, I suggest splitting this category in two (or three):
* Media Recording apps (could be, and should be, IMO, further split into "Screen Recording" and "Audio Recording")
* Streaming Media Download apps, that could include the Web services cited, plus all the "real" Streaming Media Download apps.

My recommendation for Streaming Media Apps are Orbit (quite effective, very useful also as a download manager), DownloaderHelper Firefox extension (quite convenient and easy to use), Easy YouTube Downloader Firefox extension (very specialized, but very effective, easy to use, and with many options) and StreamTransport (this one is amazing: it can download the most difficult streaming videos I have to face; it works with ANY video streaming site: they use Hulu download as its "highlighted feature", but it is not restricted to it in any way).

Hope this helps.
Greetings.

by Thanks (not verified) on 22. December 2010 - 9:17  (63073)

Great note! I normally use JDownloader and Orbit for streaming media but a couple of days ago I was having trouble to capture a webinar video so I downloaded several other applications without success until I tried StreamTransport per your advice. Thanks!

By the way, in the past I used to have a program with a green button in my firefox address that when clicked would show the playing webpage media in a drop down menu but lost it after upgrading to W7 and cannot remember which addon it was. Do you know it?

Enjoy a great xmas season!

by Birkoff on 16. December 2010 - 8:27  (62617)

Thanks for your suggestions alejobd.

by alejobd on 15. December 2010 - 12:39  (62551)

I should add to my list jDownloader.
It is best known as a downloads manager, specialized in cloud storage/file sharing services, but it can also download videos from several video sites, Youtube to begin with. You can choose several qualities, MP3 audio only, and it supports resume. It is my choice now to download from Youtube.

by MidnightCowboy on 15. December 2010 - 13:43  (62554)

The jDownloader website is red rated by WOT and so will not be featured here.

http://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/jdownloader.com

by posimosh (not verified) on 26. August 2011 - 3:29  (78366)

Can you imagine why jdownloader might get a bad score from wot? Also, having obviously not used the open source and non-profit Jdownloader, why would you dismiss it oout of hand without learning any more about it? Wouldn't the admin developers of JDL use the cheaper *.org web suffix? I have never been to jdownloader.com and don't use wot but I can assure you that jdownloader.ORG is, in fact the website for the java based application jdownloader and is thereby not fradulent misleading or otherwise. so.... Instead of trying the *.com suffix, always try *.org as well and check your spelling in the url if what you see isn't what you expect when strolling 'round the web.

by scyllabub (not verified) on 16. August 2012 - 14:20  (97801)

I have often found WoT to be unreliable, ratings skewed by uninformed or malicious users.

by Anupam on 26. August 2011 - 5:43  (78371)

If you notice, we have already discussed this in the comments below.

by Anupam on 15. December 2010 - 17:20  (62572)

There are actually two sites. The .com one is fake, and is rated red by WOT. The .org one is the real one, and is rated green. So, if the poster means the .org one, then it can stay, otherwise not.

by MidnightCowboy on 15. December 2010 - 17:47  (62573)

Thanks Anupam, I was aware of this.
jDownloader as referenced is red rated.
JDownloader which wasn't referenced is the safe one.

by Anupam on 15. December 2010 - 17:51  (62574)

Oh... thanks for clarifying. I did not notice that minor but important difference. Good catch.

by davy on 8. November 2010 - 12:58  (60879)

I use the free ashampoo Clipfiner hd.Works with any browser and any video site as you can copy and paste the url,it will convert it to any format you wish i.e.avi that will play on windows media player.Or even convert a music video to mp3.

by pbouthil on 17. September 2010 - 0:09  (57967)

Radio? Sure!

The “RadioSure” gives you the smoothest radio listening experience. The main rule is – it should be simple, reliable and should just work.

Main features are:

More than 12000 of stations in the package
Supports most of the internet radio formats – mp3, wma, ogg vorbis, aac+ and so on
Quick and reliable search for your favorite radio stations
Smooth switching between stations including crossfade effect
Recording what you are listening to and packaging it into separate song files
Simultaneous recording of multiple stations
Automatic checking for software and radio stations updates
Command line parameters for automatization
Runs on Windows XP SP3, Vista, Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit)
UNICODE support – all domestic stations are perfectly visible and searchable
and much much more…

Don’t you still want to try? Just download and enjoy it for free of charge completely!

http://www.radiosure.com/downloadz/

by Birkoff on 17. September 2010 - 10:06  (57984)

I agree with Kendall.

by kendall.a on 17. September 2010 - 4:36  (57969)

Instead of cutting & pasting from their website, why don't you tell us why you use it and why you like it?

by Unbravewintermute on 10. August 2010 - 3:03  (55706)

What about StreamTransport. It seems to work well.

by Birkoff on 20. August 2010 - 7:03  (56395)

StreamTransport seems to be interesting but only records streaming content as opposed to Debut, Jing etc. which are able to record entire computer desktop activity and edit content as well.

Although streming media recorders might be (and are) able to record copyright content I feel StreamTransport in my opinion indicates too obviously that it has been designed to violate copyright content by recording what it is not supposed to.

Anyway, the program is malware clean and partialy does what we expect it to do but still does not match the features variety of the programs recommended above.

by Birkoff on 10. August 2010 - 6:14  (55718)

I had to modify the link in your comment because that particular software does not meet all the expectations of full-featured streaming media recorder.

The thing is that StreamTransport records only videos related to Hulu, which limits it to a point where it becomes useless to broader line of users who prefer having such software which can record everything on their computer's desktop, not just recording streaming videos particularly from Hulu.

by Unbravewintermute on 10. August 2010 - 11:11  (55738)

It does work with other sites. As I type this, I'm getting a video of veoh.com and megavideo.com

by TSA (not verified) on 30. September 2010 - 16:42  (58722)

StreamTransport does exactly what I wanted. Get the video, not the screen. Clean, simple, effective (so far). Works on CBC and ABC streams that I tried.