May 20, 2016: YouTube -> Plex

Now I should probably preface this entire post by stating that I can’t necessarily vouch for the legality of doing this, so if that’s the type of thing that you like to be concerned about in this digital wild wild west that we know as The Internet, then take notice… 😉

Tonight I discovered this awesome tool that I’ve been in search of for a long time that allows you to rip videos directly from YouTube, along with other audio and video sites but let’s be honest … mostly YouTube!

I guess they’ve actually got a desktop app that you can download, too, but I just used the online version with the associated browser plugin and it was absolutely perfect for my needs, which mainly consisted of ripping a couple of web series that I’ve enjoyed over the years so that I can load them into Plex and watch them locally from my media server, and also preserve a copy of my own in the event that someday they happen to disappear from the Internet altogether.

What I thought was really cool is that for most video, or at least the HD episodes that I was grabbing, they don’t really do any conversion process at all and are simply able to pass your browser the download link directly from YouTube, thus resulting in ultra fast downloads because you’re in fact pulling from Google’s servers instead of the ones belonging to whoever actually runs this service.

I had to do the latter for a couple of much older episodes that happened to still be in standard definition and there was some lag both for the conversion process as well as the download itself, although thankfully the resulting files were also very small so that helped on the other end of the download…

So a couple of hours later, I’ve got 200+ episodes of these shows spanning about 50 GB saved out onto my media center along with the rest of my recorded shows and I can finally put away the DVDs that I’d bought but never quite gotten around to actually ripping … even though I’d have ended up with SD versions of the shows if I went that route anyways whereas YouTube has superior HD copies that are otherwise unavailable because none of the shows in question offer Blu-Rays for sale, only DVDs. 

And again, it probably comes down to the types of videos that you opt to use the service for to ultimately determine its legality, but for fair use cases like I believe I have here, it’s nice to have an option to grab a personal copy of YouTube videos that you find special, either simply to have for offline viewing or whatnot or even to preserve if it’s the type of video that inevitably tends to get pulled down.

Case in point – my last download of the evening was a copy of the absolutely heartwarming memorial service held for Jim Henson in New York City back in 1990. I’ve only ever found clips of various segments and they tend to get removed even though the video was never commercially released (to my knowledge), so when somebody finally uploaded the full 2+ hour memorial complete with every speaker and performance, I had to save a copy to disk so that I’d still have it for future enjoyment when I need that extra bit of encouragement in life or frankly just want to remember. 😉

So if saving online videos is something that you also have a need for, I personally can’t recommend Clip Converter enough!

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