File formats today continue to demand frequent modification- video files turned to MP3 for audio-only playback, MP3 to WAV or AAC conversions for those operating in the audio space, JPGs that need to be PNGs for better image scalability, the list goes on. Searching online for “free video converter” will give you hundreds if not thousands of options to choose from, but today I want to highlight some important points to consider, when deciding which conversion tool to use. In an overview, these points are:
- 1. Identify the file upload size restrictions (2MB really isn’t that much).
- 2. Did you check if there is any loss of quality in the conversion?
- 3. Do free file converting tools keeps your files on their server? (Privacy?)
- 4. Watch for typos in extensions (MOVIEMP4.MP3?)
- 5. Check if the file converting tool has upload quantity restriction.
1. Identify the free file converter upload size restrictions.
Because these free file converters rely on computing power the convert files into other output formats, there is a cost associated with the conversion process. A common strategy to mitigate bulky computing (video formats for example, tend to be quite large), is to restrict upload file size. Tools like Zamzar have a restriction of 50MB and others, like TinyPng, restrict upload files to just 2MB (though it is meant for smaller files in general). Different file formats have different sizes, and file conversions from SOME formats to others, requires full file re-writing, for example the conversion of video codecs. Your best bet is to identify an online file converter that has zero limitations on file upload size.
2. Did you check if there is any loss of quality in the conversion?
Depending on the file output type, you may wish to identify if there was any lossy conversion. In the music space, a WAV file is intended to be lossless, but converting MP3s to WAVs doesn’t guarantee that the output audio files are completely lossless. For most people, this loss in bits is not noticeable but for others, it can be a big difference. Another format to identify lossless file types is PDFs. If your output file appears blurry when reading, there’s a good chance that quality was reduced. Some of the free file converters online do this to mitigate cost of computing power. If you’re converting high quality file formats, you might want to consider investing in a powerful software (Final Cut Pro for video, for example) to handle these conversions. Otherwise, I suggest monitoring your output files after using a file converter online, to identify if there was loss in quality. You can also check input vs output file size, as a smaller output size MAY indicate compression (but keep in mind that file types compress their bits differently).
3. Do free file converting tools keeps your files on their server?
Security and privacy are extremely important nowadays, especially when it comes to your digital files. Converting a highly classified PDF for your business through an online converter might not be protocol, but you should always check if the converter software/website handles the conversions on your browsers end or on their own servers. If the latter, this likely means that your files are being downloaded directly into their backend, where they can have full visibility and control of them. In most cases, there isn’t an actual person watching the files for potentially valuable information, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a risk. Some free file converter websites will make a note whether they directly download your input file to their servers, but not all.
4. Watch for typos in extensions
This is a tip that mostly falls on the users end- by mindful of typos in your file names. Some operating systems will give you trouble if you try to manually change an extension name from download (macOS for example) and instead of the FILENAME.MP4 that you intended, you’ll end up with FILENAMEMP4.MP3 or something similar. Downloading output files from a free file converter online could also yield problematic file extensions, especially when attempting to convert and download videos from direct URLs (YouTube videos for example). Video converter softwares are pretty complex, so do your due diligence and make sure your output file type is as intended. Consider attempting one file conversion before your entire batch?
5. Check if the file converting tool has upload quantity restriction.
A final hurdle that many online converter present, is upload quantity. Much like our first point regarding file size, these converter tools rely on computing power, and if you’re sending hundreds of thousands of files through it at once, it could rack up some pretty hefty charges. Services like Zamzar get around this by setting a limit of 2 files per 24 hour period, but that obviously makes it a pay-to-play service, not exactly ideal for everyone. Your best bet is to find a free online file converter that has zero restrictions on quantity of files (and perhaps even offer a batch conversion feature), which would speed up those bulk file moments.
Online file converters have truly revolutionized the flexibility of digital file management, offering seemingly endless conversion possibilities all at a moments notice. There are however, certain pros and cons to using these tools, as well as variety in the flexibility that they provide. Do your due diligence when converting that next file, and pick a tool that gets the job done right.
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