Discovered that a YouTube video in your Favorites or Watch Later playlists was erased suddenly? Luckily, you downloaded it to your storage ahead of time. But then you remember that you deleted it to free up some space, thinking you can just re-download it at will. This has happened to the best of us, and it’s even worse if you’re the creator. In that case, it’s a waste of time and effort, and you have nothing to show for it. We have good news, however. Unless a long time has passed, restoration of YouTube downloaded videos is possible, although not guaranteed. Let-s jump straight into how to recover YouTube downloaded videos.
Where does YouTube store offline videos?
YouTube recommends that you insert an SD card before downloading a video, although you don’t have to. Also, while you can save videos offline on iOS, they’re hard to find and usually require an iOS file explorer for Mac such as iFunbox. Videos downloaded through the YouTube app on Android are located here:
internal storage or SD card/Android/data/com.google.android.youtube/files/Offline/[system-generated folder name]/streams
A big problem when trying to recover YouTube downloaded videos
Videos you download through the official YouTube apps via the Safe Offline feature are stored in multiple chunks. At the end of the download, the official app can interpret the data, and start the video/audio reproduction. Trouble is, YouTubeGo, a service responsible for downloads, encrypts these chunks and converts them into an EXO or YT extension. As such, other apps or media players can’t reproduce them because they lack a decryption key and a video decoder. Furthermore, if you delete the YouTube app, all offline videos are deleted with it. With that acknowledged, here are 5 techniques to retrieve YouTube downloaded videos:
1. Check the Downloads section of your browser or app
Did the problem occur very recently, due to power or Internet outage? If so, the download process is paused and pending. You can resume it in Google Chrome and Mozilla by pressing Ctrl + J (Windows, Linux), or Control + J (Mac) then looking through the list. As for Android and iOS, the YouTube app will resume download as soon as you enable Internet access.
2. Recover YouTube downloaded videos with Wayback Machine
If no downloads are pending or it’s been a while, don’t lose hope. Do you have the URL of the YouTube video? If so, you can see the page as it was before the video was gone, then download it again. Here’s how to retrieve YouTube download videos via Wayback Machine:
- Visit the Wayback Machine page.
- Paste the video URL into the text field.
- Click on Browse History below.
- Use the calendar to navigate the page history by date until you find the video online.
3. Try a Google Search
Don’t remember the URL? Well, then you can’t be sure the stored YouTube video no longer exists. It’s often the opposite, which means you can save it to your storage once again. Here are the instructions to rediscover a YouTube video:
- Go to the Google homepage.
- Enter this into the text box:
site:www.youtube.com + [the video name]
- Browse the search results until you find the video URL.
- Utilize the method above.
4. Use data recovery software to recover downloaded YouTube videos
When you erase a video downloaded to your storage, it isn’t wiped immediately, only the address to it is. That’s the case with all data as well, as explained in method 2 of our Keepsafe photo recovery article. Now that you’re aware, there are 2 ways to retrieve YouTube downloaded videos via data recovery software:
The vast majority of YouTube video downloads on the desktop are done through third-party services. For that reason, the limitations described in the beginning don’t exist, and you have a single video file. The downside is that users transfer significantly more data to/from the computer storage in comparison to mobile. Consequently, the chance of complete restoration of downloaded YouTube videos is reduced. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, of course. Simply follow the steps in our “how to recover deleted photos” guide. Take a look at the How to restore permanently deleted photos without a backup headline. The only difference is that in step #6, you should look for videos instead of photos in the Lost Files category.
As mentioned, you need the YouTube app to decrypt and play downloaded videos with a YT or EXO extension. Before you do this, recover the video file chunks and gather them in one place using another app. For this, we recommend utilizing data recovery apps for Android or data recovery software for iPhone. We demonstrated the process in two articles: deleted video recovery for Android and how to recover deleted videos for iPhone.
5. Contact YouTube Creator Support
This is a drawn-out method, reserved for creators in the YouTube Partnership Program. Do you fit those requirements? Does the removed YouTube video belong to you? If the answer is yes to both, this is your last resort when others have none. Check method 3, step 1 in our YouTube Channel recovery guide article.