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.
Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
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.
This software category is in need of an editor. If you would like to give something back to the freeware community by taking it over, check out this page for more details. You can then contact us from that page or by clicking here