In the old times, websites that displayed video content simply linked the video files directly in the webpage. But this resulted in heavy load on the server because a large portion of the video file was already downloaded even by the users who watched only first few seconds of the video and moved on to other sites. In order to reduce load on the server and improve on the response time from the server, Apple developed a new technology called HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) which is now used by almost all the video streaming services.
HLS Video Streaming
HLS breaks the large video file into a number of smaller chunks. These smaller chunks are sent in an sequential order to the client’s web browser as defined by a playlist file. The format used by the playlist file is M3U8. So when users visit a video site that uses HLS, they get this M3U8 playlist instead of the original video file.
Rejoin HLS fragments into full video
What if you want to download the original video file? In that case, we have to rejoin all the chunks that were broken from the original video file by HLS. For this, we can use a free tool Vovsoft M3U8 Downloader. In this tool, we have to supply the URL of a M3U8 file and it will do the rest. It will download all the smaller chunks, join them and re-encode them into a large video file.
Easy way to find M3U8 URL
For the easiest way to find the M3U8 URL of a video being played in a web browser, you can use a browser extension like Video Download Helper which is available for both Firefox and Chrome browsers from https://www.downloadhelper.net/. It lists the full URLs of all M3U8 links corresponding to different resolutions of a video stream.
There is also another option to find the URL of M3U8 file as explained by the developer of this tool. For this method, you have to invoke the web developer tools for Chrome or Firefox. Then in the Network section, you have to look for any M3U8 links. This method might be a bit confusing for the beginners.
Many of the M3U8 links are time based and expire after some time. So it is important that you find the M3U8 URL fresh for using with Vovsoft M3U8 Downloader.
Using Vovsoft M3U8 Downloader
Once you have obtained this URL, you can add it to Vovsoft M3U8 Downloader and click on the “Download” button. Depending on the server response and your download speeds, the video file will be downloaded in short or long time. You can choose the video format from MP4, MKV, WEBM etc. It uses the open-source tool FFmpeg to encode the videos which also produces very high-quality video file in the end.
Vovsoft M3U8 Downloader is a portable HLS video stream downloader. It comes with all the tools to download HLS fragments, combine them together and repackage them into videos of various formats. It works great in our experience even on slow responding servers.
You can download Vovsoft M3U8 Downloader from https://vovsoft.com/software/m3u8-downloader/.