When you view a Flash video on YouTube (or most other sites), the video is not downloaded to your system; instead it is streamed to you so that you can begin watching it right away. However to increase performance and make it easier to jump around to parts that have already been “buffered”, it does cache the video to your system’s temp directory (
%temp%) where temporary files are stored. Unfortunately there are a few problems preventing you from copying the video from the temp directory:
- The Flash Player locks the file so that you cannot copy it normally. However, using Unlocker’s copy function, you can work around that limitation
- In addition to being locked, the file is set to be deleted as soon as it is released (unlocked), so once you navigate away from the page (let alone close the browser, let alone reboot), the cached video is deleted
- Even if you manage to copy the cached video, it only works if you have copied the whole video. If you click in the time-bar to start playing somewhere in the middle, the whole video is not downloaded and most video players are unable to play a partial Flash video (you may have luck with a partial video that at least has the beginning, but even that may not work correctly)
The above information applies to older versions of Chrome. In newer versions (~21, 22 or so and up?) Chrome no longer uses locked-temporary files in the temp-directory. Instead, it now saves streaming videos to the regular browser cache folder in the User Data Directory (e.g.,
%localappdata%\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache) and the files can be easily copied from the OS (e.g., Windows Explorer). However they still have no descriptive filenames and must be identified first. This is easier if you first clear the browser cache before starting the video and then sorting the files by size.
Note however that this still only applies to certain videos like those on YouTube; sites that use other methods of streaming videos like RTSP will still not work as they still use “native files” in Windows (and presumably tmpfs in *nix/Mac). As such, they must still be “ripped” using the same stream-capturing tools as before.