Downloading YouTube Videos: What You Need to Know in 2023
You won’t believe how many videos there are on YouTube. Let’s put their combined runtime at billions upon billions of hours. If you thought that’s amazing, you don’t know the rest. YouTube has been a staple for Internet users for over 27 years. Other sites have tried to compete, only to fail miserably over and over again.
In 2020, tech innovator Apple spent over $2 million on YouTube ads, showing this platform must be something. But there’s probably no sweeter story about the site than its beginnings. When eBay bought out Paypal in 2002, the payment portal’s employees gathered their bonuses to fund what would be the world’s most significant curator and sharer of online videos today.
The fact that you’re reading this article probably means you’re part of that movement. But perfect as it may seem, that movement isn’t completely safe. Using online videos requires some self-regulation, as when downloading a video from YouTube to MP4. That said, you must keep a few things in mind to avoid potential issues. After all, the Internet is still a jungle.
The biggest issue when it comes to YouTube to MP4 download legalities is copyright, but you likely won’t run into problems when you’re only downloading for personal use. Unless you’re working out of a syndicated effort to sell, modify, or license YouTube videos in your name – or any activity that doesn’t count as “personal use” – you should be fine.
Of course, you don’t have to download YouTube videos to enjoy them. They’re everywhere on the site and free to be streamed and shared by anyone. But if you must download, and we all have reasons for downloading videos, then be extra careful about it, especially regarding relevant laws and the fine print.
Three Main Options for Downloading YouTube Videos
There are three key ways to download YouTube to MP4, but not all of them may work for you equally. To know which one is the best, start by understanding each option and assessing it as you go along.
Your first option for downloading YouTube videos is using YouTube to MP4 download websites like YouTubeTop.org. Like third-party software, these websites will only ask you for the URL of the video you want to download. They will parse it, provide options for different download sizes, and then give you a link to your download.
What’s great about these sites is they can work on any platform. You can use them on your cell phone or any mobile device. You don’t have to download anything that eats up your computer’s memory unnecessarily. While it may take longer to download through these sites, their overall convenience is just unbeatable.
Here are tips to help you differentiate between safe and unsafe YouTube download websites:
- Avoid sites with pop-ups and ads. These websites are clearly out to make money, and one way is by spreading all kinds of malware, from viruses to Trojans and more. Stay away from these sites at all costs.
- Look for conversion options. When a site gives you conversion options, they probably care about your video experience. Not to say they’re automatically legit, but this is clearly a plus for them.
- Be wary of sites that ask for too much information. At most, your video downloader website should ask for your email address. If they start prompting you to enter other details about yourself, such as your physical address or phone number, leave.
- A reputable site only lets you download HD videos. If a site offers downloads at 1080p, that’s acceptable.It’s the industry standard, although 4K will still be best. Read some reviews, and if you find that a particular site dishes out videos below the standard resolution, don’t proceed with the download.
- Don’t pay for your YouTube download. It’s a big no-no. Reputable YouTube downloader sites charge nothing for quality service. Why should you pay any site at all?
2. YouTube Premium
If you’re a YouTube Premium subscriber, you probably enjoy the best of the platform: no ads and other disruptions, plus video downloads. While this sounds like a great deal, there’s one caveat. YouTube premium downloads are notorious for churning out 1080p and that’s it, even lower sometimes. So if you’re a 4K kind of video buff, this might be disappointing.
As mentioned, 1080p is the industry standard for crisp HD digital video viewing. But why would you settle with YouTube to MP4 HD when you can get all 8 million pixels with 4K?
The other problem with a YouTube Premium “download” is that there’s practically no such thing. When you “download” a video through YouTube’s paid service, the file stays available in your account’s Downloads page, but you can’t view it using other software, such as VLC Media Player or Windows Media Player. And should you ever lose your Internet connection for a certain number of days for whatever reason, that video will no longer be there.
For these reasons and more, YouTube Premium “downloads” are not technically downloads – at least, based on the current globally accepted definition of the word. Instead, they’re more akin to movies or series you can save on video streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu.
3. Third-party software
There are pros to installing third-party software that works as a YouTube to MP4 converter. First, that software is yours and yours alone. You can do pretty much anything you want with it. You can have it in your hard drive and manipulate it to your satisfaction.
Usually, you have to paste the URL of the video you want to download, and the program does exactly that. It will render the file into your hard drive, whether in 1080p HD or 4k – anything that floats your boat.
Make no mistake. YouTube downloads from third-party software are the real thing. They are downloads in every sense of the word. You view the videos using any player you want, and you can share them with your family and friends through email or any other private channel.
When discussing the cons of downloading software, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the risk of malware. But that’s a given for anything and everything online, so as long as you follow safe web practices, you should be able to protect yourself.
However, other things might make software downloads not the best. For example, FTPs can be really clunky to work with. Also, when you download specific software, it may come with DRM protection. That means you may not be able to use it after all. And if your computer or hard disk bogs down, you may lose that software altogether because you don’t have the CD required for reinstallation.
Download If You Must, But Be Smart About It
Whatever your reasons for downloading YouTube videos, they’re all on you, and the Internet won’t stop you. As long as you abide by widely accepted conventions for using YouTube videos, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Always do your research because it can save you a lot of trouble in the future. While downloading YouTube videos is inherently innocent, nothing is ever safe enough online. But you don’t have to jump in with your eyes closed.