Vimeo announced last week that starting August 1st, they will no longer be retaining the original source files for free accounts.

Since the very beginning, Vimeo has retained the original video files that you upload, and allowed you to grant people permission to download those files. We always take these original files and convert them so that they will play online and in the Vimeo player. We kept the original files for download because we wanted you to be able to save your video exactly the way it looked when it left your hard drive. This aspect of the service was not a huge burden on us when the site was younger, but we’ve had to take another look at what we are realistically capable of offering for years to come, while making sure the site stays on budget. Original file storage of every file for every user is a massive cost, and we have noticed that only a very small set of users actually ever download their own files. We want to keep original file storage around as a feature for people who use it, but we can’t continue to do it for everybody.

This has actually prompted me to finally make the upgrade to Vimeo Plus. The upgrade had a slight at the point of a rapier feel to it, but because the strongest impetus I had was to keep my original file uploads, I had a quick look through and discovered that I have over 3GB of source files sitting on Vimeo’s servers. $60/year isn’t such a bad deal for this kind of storage volume. It’s in line with online storage services such as box.net, or normal web hosting accounts, and of course Vimeo’s only limit is the 5GB/week upload. So even just as a file hosting service it’s a reasonable investment.

Vimeo Plus Tutorial from Vimeo Staff on Vimeo.


Of course there’s the other Plus features, most attractive to me being pre- and post-roll customization and unlimited Groups/Albums etc. Personally I don’t understand the rationale of sites – Flickr being another one – which nerf their free accounts in this way. Albums, Groups, Sets and other playlist-style features make media sharing sites considerably more useful and navigable, so limiting this functionality to a small subset of users limits the overall usefulness of the site.

I’ve also heard from another social video service, Tubemogul (which allows seamless uploading across multiple video networks, more on this soon), that Vimeo are considering blocking Tubemogul access for Vimeo free accounts. This seems a little anti-competitive and myspace-ish, blocking 3rd party tools that make your site more efficient.

Pettiness aside, I’m still loving Vimeo as a service, and the community seems to be holding off the Youtube-like hoards or trollish commenters. Let’s see how my first year as a Plus member pans out.

Ed.: Vimeo still looks like a top choice to me. We’re working on publishing more CDM’s own videos to Blip.tv – we plan on making video a bigger part of the CDMs, and Blip has a more liberal ad policy, plus easier cross-posting to things like iTunes. But Vimeo is terrific for sharing your work. I’m also intrigued by dailymotion, which recently had a big presence at the Open Video Conference and is the first to do a broad test of OGG and HTML5 for Flash-less video playback, something critical to the future of the open Web. Blip founders were at that conference, and it’d be great to see a Blip or Vimeo join in. Thoughts on any of these services? We’d love to hear them. -PK

  • http://beatfix.com beatfix

    Annoying, but predictable – they are a commercial entity, after all. This is why it makes sense to cross-list vital content on archive.org.

  • http://torley.com Torley

    I've used every single major video-sharing site, and many smaller ones, extensively over the course of making 250+ video tutorials for virtual world Second Life, plus electronic music and piano how-tos, videoblogging, and more. I'm all too happy to share the fruits of my experiences for those — but as with many things, you don't understand until you use firsthand.

    Tubemogul to Vimeo uploads have long been spotty: I've used both extensively and at times, the service has been down. Most recently, Tubemogul videos don't get the 2-pass SD encoding which Vimeo offers Pro users, so you have to go and click extra buttons each time — which gets cumbersome over many videos. Not really a strong point to begin with; Vimeo has focused on creativity and a tightly-knit community.

    Interesting to observe how YouTube is becoming more amendable to downloads, and they offer free and (altho I haven't checked super-recently) arguably better HD quality. But Vimeo's embed widget is elegant, customizability is second to none, and to their credit, they did award Pro accounts a lot of extra HD embeds.

    I used to use blip.tv but stopped being active because of numerous reasons: the scrunchy pixeltext on their widget bugged me, it was tough to navigate around, and their batch uploader broke. YouTube has a multi-uploader and Vimeo doesn't, but with the latter, the workaround is opening multiple browser tabs and uploading a video in each one. Unfortunately, Vimeo sound quality has actually gone downhill: http://www.vimeo.com/forums/topic:11980

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis

    @beatfix: We have a lot of love for archive.org, but the Creative Commons licensing requirement means that it's not the right fit for a lot of videos, especially work done for clients, or featuring bands for whom music licensing may be a tricky issue that they don't have full control over.

    Archive's janky old interface also makes it a place that I rarely go, unless I'm looking for something specific. It's not really the kind of place I surf around, looking for new exciting things. For that I Vimeo.

    @torley: Blip's embed is one of the reasons I shied away from them early on as well. The Vimeo widget is extremely attractive and usable.

    Vimeo's lack of multi-uploader never really worried me, because you can save the details for the movie before it's finished uploading. So it's very easy to set and forget an upload. Because of the Vimeo community I'm much less likely to mindlessly upload multiple clips as well, I look at it with a bit more of a curatorial eye.

  • massta

    The converted MP4 file or the file Vimeo creates to show online will still be available for downloading if the video creator wishes so.

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis

    Thanks @Massta, I forgot to mention that part. Yes, converted file download will still be available.

  • http://chriscaines.com Chris

    Perhaps it won't be long before Vimeo isn't accessible outside major markets without a + account, like the move LastFM made earlier this year.

  • http://vimeo.com dalas v

    Thanks for your support. We plan to continue adding to the Plus service. Multiple file uploader is on the way! I've tested it, and it works great.

  • http://www.anistock.com anistock

    I just think this is a commercial reality, be interesting to see upgrades to paid accounts