There are many reasons why you might want a video converter. You might want to play a particular video on a device that has limited storage and there need to reduce the size of the file. You might want to keep your entire video collection in the same format, but have a few rogue entries messing up your system. Or you might want to change a video recorded in a strange format on your phone into something that is more easily shared with others.
Converting video is nowhere near as complex a task as video editing, but many people will be put off doing it because of the mistaken belief that a complicated and expensive video editor is needed. In reality, you can do it for free; here is the best software you can use.
1. Freemake Video Converter
Quick, flexible and easy to use; the best free video converter today
Freemake has built up something of a name for itself for producing powerful yet easy to use software, and making it available free of charge. Freemake Video Converter is no exception, continuing the company's enviable track record.
The free video converter can not only convert files from your hard drive to almost any format, it can also be used to download and convert online videos from the likes of YouTube.
With simple editing tools to trim unwanted footage, the ability to add subtitles, and convert to and from DVD, Freemake Video Converter has all of your everyday conversion needs covered - and more.
One word of warning: the installer sneakily tries to add a malware blocker, browser search bar and, ironically, an ad remover. Pay close attention and be sure to use the custom installation option to avoid unwanted extras.
That aside, Freemake Video Converter is the best free video converter around.
Download here: Freemake Video Converter
2. Any Video Converter Free
Free and fast conversion for videos stored on your PC or published online
When it comes to the number of supported file formats, Any Video Converter Free certainly doesn't disappoint. Like Freemake Video Convertor, the program handles online as well as offline files, meaning that if you like the look of some videos on YouTube, you can quickly and easily convert them into a format suitable for offline viewing on your mobile without worrying about your data allowance. Incidentally, the same warning about unwanted software installations also applies.
More than just YouTube, you can also download and convert videos from Facebook, Vimeo, Metacafe and more, and Any Video Converter Free also features the option to rip audio from CDS and DVDs.
You'll find support for all of the video formats you can shake a stick at, including ready made profiles for different devices, and editing options such as trimming, cropping and rotating allow for basic cleanup tasks. If you want to get creative, you can experiment with video effects to achieve a completely unique look as well.
Review and where to download: Any Video Converter Free
3. Free HD Video Converter Factory
Video conversion and simple editing rolled into one convenient free package
Free HD Video Converter Factory prides itself on being so easy to use that its website features a 10-second guide to getting started. This might seem like an exaggeration, but it's actually true. You can drag and drop a video onto the program interface, or use the selection menu, select the format or destination device and hit the Run button. That really is all there is to it.
You'll be pleased to know that the software's convenience doesn't come at the expense of features. While you can start the conversion process in a matter of seconds, you may wish to spend a little more time customizing the output. Cutting, cropping and impressive special effects are all on hand to give your videos the look you want, and the way destination formats are presented is highly intuitive.
Beginners can select the make of device they want to play video on to ensure that the correct format is automatically selected, while more advanced users can make a manual selection and customise things further.
Download here: Free HD Video Converter Factory
An powerful video and audio converter that's made the leap from Mac to PC
Handbrake is a free video converter that's well known to Mac users, but less famous in the world of Windows. It is worth noting that this is still something of an experimental program and it hasn't even reached version 1.0 in its Windows incarnation, but that doesn't mean it should be overlooked.
Available for Mac, Windows and Linux, Handbrake is a great choice for anyone who works on multiple platforms, but is also great for anyone who is dedicated to Windows. It's also worth noting that the Mac version of Handbrake was recently infected with malware, though this problem has now been fixed.
A slight word of warning: the other programs featured in this roundup have very approachable interfaces, but the same cannot really be said of Handbrake. The program is powerful, but utilitarian.
There are a lot of features that allow for fine-grained control of video conversion – including very precise cropping, advanced filtering, frame rate adjustment – but there are also presets for those who just want quick results. Handbrake may take a while to get used to, but the output is worth it.
Download here: Handbrake
Whatever the video format, MediaCoder can help – and it's lightning fast
As we've seen, there are lots of great free video converters available to download, but MediaCoder stands out from the crowd thanks to its sheer speed and the number of audio and video formats it supports. No matter how old and obscure the format of that video you have lurking on an ancient hard drive, MediaCoder should be able to bring it bang up to date in next to no time.
The language used by the program ('transcoding' rather than 'converting', for instance) might be a little off-putting at first, but it's worth persevering.
Like HandBrake, MediaCoder's interface is slightly intimidating, but the payoff includes a load of extra features such as video joining, sound syncing, aspect ratio adjustment, and much more.
It would be easy to become overwhelmed by what's on offer here, but MediaCoder should be approached as a learning experience. Start off using the wizards to guide you, but as your confidence grows, you can make use of more of the tools on offer to take greater control of each process.
Download here: MediaCoder