Skip to content

The Best Alternatives to An Expert‘s Guide to Downloading Videos in 2023

The internet has revolutionized how we consume video content. In the early days of streaming, watching a YouTube clip often meant dealing with constant buffering and low resolution. But as bandwidth increased, so did video quality and the rise of social media. Suddenly, we had access to millions of hours of footage across dozens of different platforms.

However, this explosion of video brought with it a new challenge – how to save our favorite clips for offline viewing. Enter stream ripping, the practice of using third-party tools to download videos from YouTube, Facebook, and beyond. For years, the go-to site for this was, which offered fast, free downloads of videos from thousands of sources.

But in 2020, shut down amid increasing pressure from copyright holders. The site had become a victim of its own success, attracting millions of users but also the ire of media giants who saw it as a threat to their business models.

Despite the legal crackdown, the demand for video downloading hasn‘t diminished. Numerous alternative sites have emerged to take‘s place. But which ones are the most reliable, feature-rich, and safe to use? In this expert guide, we‘ll compare the top contenders and explore the past, present, and future of video downloading.

The Rise and Fall of

First, let‘s travel back to the heyday of stream ripping. Founded in 2008, quickly became the most popular video downloader on the web. The site made it dead simple to save videos from YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo, and over 40 other platforms.

Users simply pasted a link and clicked download. Within seconds, they‘d have an MP4 file of their chosen video, often with multiple quality options to choose from. No registration was required and the service was completely free, although it was supported by somewhat aggressive advertising.

At its peak in 2018, was attracting over 200 million visitors per month according to SimilarWeb data. To put that in perspective, that‘s more than Hulu, HBO, or ESPN. Clearly, there was a massive appetite for easy video downloads.

However, this popularity would contribute to‘s downfall. Media companies and record labels argued that stream ripping was costing them billions in lost revenue. The RIAA cited data showing that 46% of consumers aged 16-24 engaged in the practice.

RIAA data on stream ripping

In 2018, the US Trade Representative placed on its annual "Notorious Markets" list of sites that enable copyright infringement. This increased the pressure on the site, which had already faced lawsuits and takedown notices from the likes of Sony and Warner Bros.

Finally, in April 2020, threw in the towel. With little fanfare, the site replaced its homepage with a terse message announcing that "the service has been discontinued." An era had ended.

The Legality and Ethics of Video Downloading

The story of illustrates the thorny legal and ethical issues around video downloading. When a creator uploads a video to YouTube or TikTok, they typically retain the copyright. The platforms then license the video for streaming, not downloading.

Ripping those videos for offline viewing is generally considered a violation of the platforms‘ terms of service. In some cases, it may also be copyright infringement. However, the reality is more complex. Courts around the world have issued conflicting rulings on the legality of personal-use stream ripping.

Strictly speaking, downloading copyrighted videos without permission is illegal in most jurisdictions. But enforcement usually focuses on those hosting ripping sites or distributing the videos for profit, not individual users grabbing clips for offline viewing.

The ethical question is more subjective. Proponents argue that if you‘re already authorized to stream a video, you should be able to save it for later. They see stream ripping as a form of format shifting, no different than ripping a CD you own to put the music on your phone.

However, critics counter that stream ripping deprives creators of ad revenue and royalties. A downloaded video generates no income for the artist. There‘s also no guarantee that a ripper won‘t misuse the video by sharing it elsewhere or trying to monetize it themselves.

As an expert, I lean towards the view that casual, personal-use stream ripping isn‘t a serious ethical breach, as long as you‘re not distributing the video. However, it‘s best to err on the side of caution. If a creator offers an authorized way to download their work, use that instead. Respect the wishes of those who don‘t want their material ripped.

Top 5 Alternatives in 2023

Now that we‘ve covered the background, let‘s get to the heart of the matter – the best places to download videos now that is gone. These services provide similar functionality but may support different sites and formats.

Keep in mind that any third-party downloading carries risks. These sites may engage in deceptive practices or accidentally expose you to malware. Always keep your guard up and antivirus active. That said, here are my top picks:

1. Y2Mate

Y2Mate is a popular choice that allows downloading videos and audio from over 1,000 sites including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It boasts a simple interface and fast speeds with no registration required.

Key Features:

  • Support for downloading full HD 1080p and 4K videos
  • Ability to extract audio in MP3 format
  • 20+ output formats including MP4, M4A, and 3GP
  • Built-in search engine for finding videos


  • Easy to use with a clean design
  • Wide platform support
  • High speed downloads
  • Frequent updates to fix bugs and add sites


  • Mild to moderate advertising
  • Download links expire after one hour
  • May struggle with some types of embedded video

2. Helper

While the original site is defunct, this browser extension still works well. It adds a download button to dozens of video sites, letting you grab clips without leaving the page.

Key Features:

  • One-click downloads on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more
  • MP4 video and MP3 audio options
  • Lightweight and unobtrusive interface
  • Customizable quality and format settings


  • Extremely convenient for frequent downloaders
  • Bypasses ad-heavy downloader sites
  • Still actively maintained despite‘s closure


  • Requires giving the extension broad permissions
  • Some users report it slows browser performance
  • Doesn‘t work on sites that block extensions

3. VideoProc Converter

For power users, this premium Windows and Mac program is well worth the $25 price tag. It combines a full-featured video downloader with editing, converting, recording, and DVD burning tools.

Key Features:

  • Support for 1000+ video sites with batch downloading
  • Hardware acceleration for 47x real-time video processing
  • 370+ output formats and device presets
  • Clip, crop, stabilize, denoise, merge, subtitle, and compress videos


  • All-in-one video suite for downloading and editing
  • Modern, intuitive interface with no ads
  • Fast processing with NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD acceleration
  • Free version available with some limitations


  • Relatively expensive for a video downloader
  • Some features are Windows-only
  • Large installation size of 300+ MB

4. 9xBuddy

If you need to download from tricky sites like TikTok and SoundCloud, give 9xBuddy a try. This web-based tool supports hundreds of sources and provides a built-in proxy option to bypass region locks.

Key Features:

  • High speed downloads up to 8K quality
  • Support for 1,000+ sites including TikTok, SoundCloud, and IMDb
  • MP4, M4A, MP3, AAC, and FLAC format options
  • Bulk downloading of playlists and channels


  • No registration or software installation needed
  • Intuitive copy-paste workflow with fastStartX
  • Helpful how-to guides for major supported sites
  • Reliable even for less popular niche platforms


  • Heavy and occasionally NSFW advertising
  • Lacks advanced features like trimming and merging
  • Can be blocked by VPNs and anti-malware tools

5. Downie (Mac)

Mac users should take a look at Downie, a well-designed app that lets you drag-and-drop videos straight from your browser. With a Safari extension and iOS shortcuts, it offers the smoothest downloading experience on Apple devices.

Key Features:

  • Support for 1,200+ sites with 4K quality and subtitles
  • Audio-only M4A and MP3 downloads
  • Browser extension for one-click saving
  • Up to 60x faster downloads with Smart Mode


  • Clean, native macOS integration
  • Reliable performance with frequent updates
  • Lets you queue and manage active downloads
  • In-app chat support and responsive developer


  • No Windows or Android versions available
  • Less format flexibility than some Windows apps
  • $19.99 price tag after 30-day trial

The Shifting Landscape of Video Downloading

Despite the fall of, stream ripping remains incredibly popular. According to a 2022 IFPI survey, 27% of global internet users still download videos illegally. However, the practice faces increasing challenges on both the technical and legal fronts.

Platforms like YouTube are constantly evolving their technology to block downloader sites and apps. New encryption and client-side rendering make it harder to intercept video files. Google has also proven willing to sue ripping sites for circumventing their safeguards, as seen in legal victories over youtube-dl and TubeMate.

The shift towards paid streaming services like Netflix poses another obstacle. Unlike YouTube, these platforms use special DRM to prevent their videos from being permanently saved. As more content moves behind paywalls, there will simply be less material available to rip.

However, technology cuts both ways. Emerging Web3 solutions like the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) and Filecoin promise to make online data permanently accessible without centralized control. These decentralized networks incentivize users to share storage space in exchange for cryptocurrency.

In theory, a video uploaded to IPFS would be effectively impossible to take down or restrict. The technology is still in its infancy but could one day make copyright enforcement a whack-a-mole game for media companies.

For now, the video download scene remains a classic cat-and-mouse dynamic. Ripping sites will continue finding ways to circumvent blocks while platforms play catch-up. The legal risk for casual downloaders is low but non-zero. Use your judgment and keep up with changing laws in your jurisdiction.

Tips for Safely Downloading Videos

Whatever tool you choose, it‘s crucial to stay safe while downloading videos. These best practices will help protect your privacy and security:

  1. Use antivirus software and keep it updated. Scan any unfamiliar files before opening.

  2. Avoid downloader sites with aggressive ads, popups, or prompts to run strange programs. Stick with reputable tools.

  3. Don‘t enter personal data like email addresses or credit card numbers on downloading sites. At most, you might need to complete a CAPTCHA.

  4. Consider a VPN service to mask your IP address and encrypt your web traffic while downloading.

  5. Disable Flash and Java plugins in your browser. They‘re rarely needed for modern video sites and can introduce vulnerabilities.

  6. Keep your operating system and all software up-to-date to protect against known security flaws.

  7. Download videos over a private home or office connection, not public WiFi. Unencrypted hotspots are prime targets for hackers.

  8. Back up your downloaded videos on an external hard drive or cloud storage provider. You never know when a file might become unavailable.

Finding Freely Available Videos

Downloading videos from major platforms will always exist in an ethical and legal gray area. For those who want to play by the rules, there are still plenty of ways to find videos you can save with a clear conscience:

  • Check the creator‘s own site or social media pages. They may offer downloads directly to fans, sometimes for a small fee or Patreon subscription.

  • Use the Internet Archive (, a massive non-profit library that preserves millions of freely accessible videos, movies, and TV shows.

  • Search for Creative Commons licensed videos that allow saving and remixing. Many artists choose to share their work under these free culture licenses.

  • Explore the royalty-free video sections on stock media sites like Pond5, Artgrid, and Dareful. You can often download watermarked previews for free.

  • Contact creators directly and ask for permission to download their work for personal use. You might be surprised how often they say yes.

Remember, the vast majority of video on the web is implicitly or explicitly shared for streaming only. When in doubt, don‘t download without permission. You‘re unlikely to face serious consequences but it‘s always better to be safe than sorry.

The Future of Video Downloading

As we‘ve seen, the video download landscape is constantly shifting in response to changing technology, consumer habits, and intellectual property laws. The next decade will likely see even more upheaval as platforms fight to secure their content and decentralized alternatives mature.

One thing is clear: the demand for offline viewing isn‘t going away. As long as internet access remains uneven and data caps persist, users will seek ways to save their favorite videos locally. The tools may change but the practice will endure.

Ultimately, the onus is on media companies to provide affordable, flexible, and creator-friendly ways to download content. Until they do, stream ripping will continue in the shadows, a thorn in the side of the entertainment industry but a vital lifeline for millions of users around the world.

Wherever you fall on the video downloading debate, stay informed, stay safe, and keep enjoying the incredible wealth of video the web has to offer. Happy downloading!