This hack lets you use YouTube as infinite cloud storage

Cloud storage sure doesn't feel as infinite as it used to. I remember thinking I'd never reach the limit on Google Drive, and now after years of phone photo backups I'm always having to clear space for storage. Those 15GB just don't really cut it for modern, high quality video and image capture, or even mass file storage. Of course you can pay Google or some other storage service for more room. Or, you could just upload encoded videos to YouTube.

Storing data in video isn't new, but this is the first time we've seen it used to turn YouTube into your own free cloud storage service. Hackaday shows off the work achieved by DvorakDwarf, who managed to encode bytes into pixels to store data in YouTube videos just in time for World Backup Day next month.

Before we get into the details, DvorakDwarf makes it clear this isn't necessarily intended to be used as a mass storage solution on their Github page. Instead, DvorakDwarf wants users to think of this more like a fun "party trick" and a way to learn about data compression. Which is why this YouTube storage solution has some bugs that DvorakDwarf has no intention of fixing, and likely skirts YouTube's TOS a little closely.

For the curious, the code is written in Rust and converts data into pixels to then be played in video. Originally it used the full RGB spectrum of pixels allowing for much more efficient encoding. YouTube's compression really went to town on the coloured pixels though, so a binary mode was added and is recommended. It still can suffer from compression issues and is far bulkier and more time consuming, but tends to give a much more reliable result.

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Using DvorakDwarf's program you could theoretically encode and upload basically unlimited data to YouTube as information stored in pixelated videos. That said, we wouldn't exactly recommend it. As is pointed out, these videos don't look like regular content and will be incredibly easy to spot, even for YouTube's algorithms. Sounds like an easy way to suddenly lose all your data when YouTube suspends your account.

It's also not that convenient. Anyone who has to upload large video files to YouTube knows how long it can take, let alone all that encoding on either side of things. For now, it looks like we'll just have to stick to deleting old memories to make room for new ones. 

Hope Corrigan
Hardware Writer

Hope’s been writing about games for about a decade, starting out way back when on the Australian Nintendo fan site Since then, she’s talked far too much about games and tech for publications such as Techlife, Byteside, IGN, and GameSpot. Of course there’s also here at PC Gamer, where she gets to indulge her inner hardware nerd with news and reviews. You can usually find Hope fawning over some art, tech, or likely a wonderful combination of them both and where relevant she’ll share them with you here. When she’s not writing about the amazing creations of others, she’s working on what she hopes will one day be her own. You can find her fictional chill out ambient far future sci-fi radio show/album/listening experience podcast right here. No, she’s not kidding.