Downloading YouTube Videos

I’m a big fan of YouTube and have used it for years. Naturally I’ve run across videos I’ve wanted to watch multiple times, and marked them as a “Favorite.” The problem is there is no guarantee they will be there the next time I want to watch them, as videos can be deleted for a variety of reasons.

Every once in a while I look for a way to download videos from YouTube and save them to my computer. The problem is that if you search for this on Google you are presented with a myriad of choices, and it’s impossible to tell which are legitimate. Many options require that you download and install a piece of software on your computer, and I am extremely leery of downloading anything from the Web, especially when it’s not from a trusted source.

After my most recent round of searching I have finally found a method that I trust, in the form of a website called KeepVid. You don’t need to download anything to use it; you simply paste the URL (Web address) of the video you want to download and hit Enter. KeepVid will present you with two links, one to a low quality and one to a high quality version of the video. (Since the low quality version is in Flash video format and requires a special video player to play it, I suggest sticking with the high quality version which plays via Apple’s QuickTime.)

There are a couple of things that lead me to conclude that KeepVid is safe: First, a Google search for opinions on KeepVid gave me numerous reassuring results (Norton Safe Web, a respected site, gives KeepVid a “Safe” rating). Second, if you look closely at the download links KeepVid gives you, you’ll see that you’re not downloading anything from KeepVid at all, you’re actually downloading the videos directly from YouTube. Apparently YouTube creates and stores download-able copies of the videos people upload; normally these files are hidden, but KeepVid is able to determine the location for these files and give you the results.

I have to admit I’m puzzled about the existence of sites like KeepVid. If YouTube wanted to allow people to download and save videos, why not just provide a direct link to do so on their website? Conversely, if YouTube didn’t want people to download videos, why don’t they take greater steps to protect the download-able files? Obviously they know about KeepVid and sites like it; KeepVid is popular and has been around for years. I suppose there is a good reason—legal, technical, financial, or otherwise. I’ll probably keep pondering this, but in the mean time I found a couple of videos of myself I’m saving for posterity!

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