File Under: Multimedia, Web Services

The Demise of Google Video, and How to Rescue Your Movies


Google informed its lingering Google Video users over the weekend that videos hosted on the service will not be available for playback after April 29. The e-mail warned users to download their old content before May 13. After that, Google Video will be a search-only service.

While disappearing internet services are always cause for concern, the demise of Google Video shouldn’t come as a huge shock. Google, after all, owns the far-more-popular YouTube, and Google Video stopped accepting new video uploads nearly two years ago.

Still, given that Google Video was a popular place for instructional videos, scientific lectures and university presentations, its passing won’t go unnoticed.

It’s unclear how many videos remain on Google Video. Wikipedia claims 2.5 million, while the Google Operating System blog says there are 2.8 million. (Google was not available for comment before this post was published.) Even assuming most of those videos are moved elsewhere, the number of videos lost, links broken, and embedded content rendered inoperative will be significant.

Unfortunately, Google is not offering much in the way of migration options. Users can download movies and then upload them to YouTube, Picasa or another video hosting service, but there is no automatic transfer to YouTube — presumably due to potential copyright issues.

Another problem is that YouTube videos are limited to 15 minutes, while Google Video allowed much longer videos. That means, for those looking to move longer videos, YouTube isn’t an option.

To save your own videos from Google Video, head over to the Video Status page. Once you’re signed in you’ll see an option to download your videos. Click the download button, and the button will change to let you know you’ve already downloaded that file.

Be aware that Google Video encoded your original video into an FLV file, which is what you’ll get when you click the download button. Sadly, Google Video never offered high-quality video encoding. So, if you still have the original, uncompressed version of your movies somewhere else, you’re better off uploading the source material anew, rather than using the Google Video version. And of course you’ll have to re-create metadata you may have added to Google video — descriptions, tags, resource links and so on — regardless of where you upload the video.

The Archive Team, which helped preserve much of Geocities and other once-popular but now-departed web services, has a project up and running to archive as much of Google Video as possible. If you’d like to help out, head over to the new Archive Team wiki page for Google Video to learn more.

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