I often talk about the importance of having failsafes and backup alternatives in place when presenting a live webinar. But how often do you think about failsafes for your webinar recording?
Most reputable webinar and webcast technologies include built-in recording capabilities. They create an archive version of your live event that can be watched later as desired. Each vendor approaches the task in their own way… Some record directly to their servers in a proprietary format. Some record locally to the host's computer disk. Some record in a standard format such as MP4 and some go through a conversion step to create a standard format file.
In many years of webinars with many different technologies, I have lost recordings in a bewildering variety of ways. WebEx created a recording that contained no audio. GoToWebinar crashed during a format conversion step, erasing the source file. omNovia had a server bug that erased audio from months-worth of previously usable recordings.
Even when your recording seems to be fine, it may only be accessible while your account is active. What happens if you switch to a new vendor or close your web conferencing account? BrightTALK has a clause in its User Agreement that states: "Upon termination, suspension or expiration of this licence, You shall no longer have the right to use the Services or display, download or make available any Content from the Site. 'Content' means all webinars and other content that is published on the Site including, without limitation, content in Public Profiles, video, music, audio, photographs, images, text, trade mark, copyrighted work, any digital file, any live or recorded event." Does that mean you would not be allowed to reuse your own webinar recording in another format and host it elsewhere for display?
When I host a webinar where I know that the recorded archive version is important, I try to give myself the maximum number of opportunities to reconstruct the recording if something goes wrong. In addition to recording via the vendor's built-in functionality, I log into a second computer as an attendee. Then I use a screen capture program (Camtasia in my case) to record the presentation window exactly as the attendee sees and hears it.
If the webinar uses a third-party telephone conference call, I try to record the audio directly from the phone line as a separate audio recording. If the audio conference provider does not offer a downloadable recording from their service, I use my trusty old Dynametric hardware phone tap and bridge the phone to my computer for recording. The audio from the phone is usually higher quality than the compressed streaming audio captured by the web conference software. If the web conferencing vendor offers a conversion service from their proprietary format, I make sure to create a secondary recording file and host it in a separate location from the primary recording.
If something catastrophic happens to the main archive, I can switch to using the backup recording. In a worst case scenario, I can reconstruct the webinar from the audio track and the original slides, producing a recording file using Camtasia.
As with any failsafe, 99% of the time you will be adding effort (and possibly expense) for no benefit. Everything works as it should with the recording and your backup components go unused. But on the rare occasions when something does go wrong, you will certainly appreciate having the means to fix it or to implement a workaround.