Given there are many different video formats available, a free video converter is an extremely useful piece of software. The best video converters make the conversion process simple, and support a wide number of different codecs and formats.
Video conversion is a narrower term for transcoding. Transcoding is the process of the conversion of digital data (typically video and audio files) from one format to another. It involves extracting tracks from a digital media file, decoding the tracks, filtering, encoding, and then multiplexing the new tracks into a new container. Transcoding will reduce the quality of the tracks unless lossless formats are used.
There are many reasons to transcode media files. Some popular examples include the ability to convert files so that they are supported on a target device, and at the same time removing commercials, and reducing the file size. While transcoding is a very CPU intensive task, modern processors with a high number of cores offer impressive conversion rates provided the transcoding software supports multi-core architectures.
Please be aware that if you’re converting videos from YouTube, that’s against Google’s terms of service. And it’s also likely to be illegal as it constitutes a breach of copyright unless the copyright holder has given explicit consent, or the video is published under an open source license.
Here’s our rating for the best free video converters. They are each published under an open source license. While VLC and mpv are primarily multimedia players they also offer conversion functionality.
Now, let’s explore the 8 video converters at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources.
|Best Free Video Converters|
|HandBrake||Multithreaded cross-platform media transcoding application|
|avconv||Part of libav-tools; fork of FFmpeg|
|FFmpeg||Multimedia player, server and encoder|
|MEncoder||MEncoder is included in MPlayer|
|Ciano||Easy way to convert your multimedia files to the most popular formats|
|mpv||Cross-platform media player with video encoding support|
|VLC||While primarily a video player, VLC also converts multimedia to different formats|
|transcode||Utility to encode raw video/audio streams|
There’s a few free open source video converters that have been around for a while we recommend you avoid. We used to like Transmageddon and RetroCode, but both are abandoned. And viDrop appears dead in the water too.
Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle and Autodesk. There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.