Written by Cecilia Hwung (April 10,2021)
OnlineVideoConverter.com was a service that made it possible for users to convert videos online for a fee. The service also assisted users who wanted to download internet videos from websites like YouTube.com and Vimeo.com in both video and audio format. In its last days, Online Video Converter also added a screen recorder feature.
As is often the case with services that help users download videos from big streaming services like YouTube, OnlineVideoConverter.com faced a perception issue. Even though the site had numerous legitimate uses, some creators and video platforms labeled it a piracy platform.
Although OnlineVideoConverter.com was able to weather the storm for over a decade, attempts to find the service today show that the website is no longer online. What could have happened to a service that was once called the "largest converter on the planet"?
In this article, we follow the history of OnlineVideoConverter.com to find out what happened to the website. We also look at the services it provided and the challenges it ran into during its lifetime.
The History of OnlineVideoConverter.com
OnlineVideoConverter.com was established in 2008. With regards to who started the service, we could not find any information. What we know is that it was a free service.
Based on archived information, OnlineVideoConveter.com started as CatchVideo.net. The domain name change announcement was made on the website's blog section on July 1, 2009.
The name change announcement reads, "As we have already said, our intention is to go more and more towards a real tool for converting files." Adding "It's for this reason we have chosen to change the name taking 'OnlineVideoConverter' because since we have bought this website 6 months ago, we have worked a lot to give it more [stability] with … more options especially for the conversion [of] files from your hard drive with the powerful Expert Mode."
Over the years, OnlineVideoConverter.com grew considerably successful. By 2019, reports were showing that the website was attracting around 200 million visitors every month.
But what attracted all these people to the site?
The answer lies in OnlineVideoConverter.com's description of its service. It said, "Online Video Converter is a free online media conversion web application that allows you to convert any video link or file to various formats without the need to install any software on your computer." Adding that the tool "has been touted online as the best and most versatile YouTube downloader."
If the developers of Online Video Converter called the service they provided "simple," it's because it was. A video could be converted using four steps: entering the video link or selecting a file from the cloud or a device, selecting the format and customizing settings, clicking "Start" to convert the content, and finally downloading the file once the conversion was complete.
The services provided by Online Video Converter can be placed into three categories:
YouTube Converter: Provided users with the ability to convert YouTube links into MP4, MP3, or AVI.
Media Converter: Was a proprietary cloud conversion tool that could convert media files stored on the user's devices or in the cloud.
Screen Recorder: Made it possible for users to record anything from video charts to gameplays. It could also be used for creating on-screen tutorials. In describing this service, the website JoyoShare.com says, "you can use OVC to record the video you like instead of downloading it, which may cost you a lot of time and patience."
The Mounting Challenges
During its lifetime, OnlineVideoConverter.com faced its fair share of challenges. This is evident in some of the last posts on the service's Facebook page. One post reads, "We apologize for the inconvenience caused due to the missing 'More Settings' button, we had to disable it due to recent abuse caused by a loophole in our code."
Websites like OnlineVideoConverter.com may have legitimate uses, but the music industry has always looked at them with suspicion, calling them stream-ripping sites. This is a label that Online Video Converter had to live with for most of its lifetime.
Possibly under pressure from the owners of the millions of material on its website, in July 2019, reports indicated that YouTube had blocked several sites, accusing them of stream-ripping.
In an article about the YouTube ban published by TorrentFreak.com, Ernesto Van der Sar reports that "The massively popular OnlineVideoConverter.com, which is among the top 200 most-visited sites on the Internet, appears to be affected as well."
It looks like OnlineVideoConverter.com and many other services blocked by YouTube may have been ready for the blocking action taken by YouTube. "To fix the problem, we simply used other servers that are not in the range of IP addresses blocked by YouTube," TorrentFreak.com quotes an anonymous operator at one of the blocked sites.
Giving Up the Fight
Eventually, attempting to circumvent the YouTube blockade seems to have become too much work for OnlineVideoConverter.com. In July 2019, reports started indicating that the service had "voluntarily stopped ripping YouTube videos."
If major labels celebrated the news that OnlineVideoConverter.com would stop converting YouTube videos, it was the service's ordinary users who were left reeling from the decision.
One disgruntled user says, "The fact remains that these sites have legitimate uses. I've used them in the past for publicly available lectures and educational material from technology manufacturers that have no reason to view an audio rip as problematic."
What Then Happened to OnlineVideoConverter.com
The decision to stop converting YouTube videos seems to signal that OnlineVideoConverter.com's existence was coming to an end. In a March 2020 article, TorrentFreak.com reports that "The site saw its traffic drop from 207 million visitors in March 2019, to 15 million last month."
Starting from May 17, 2020, OnlineVideoConverter.com went offline. Referring to the website's demise, VideoConverterFactory.com writes, "the most-visited OnlineVideoConverter.com has been closed down for a while. It's not accessible and only shows 502 Bad Gateway." Adding, "Meanwhile, there are quite a lot of imitators springing up in the name of OnlineVideoConverter in the SERPs. I've no idea which one is rebuilt by the original group."
This article was originally posted on videoproc.com.