Here's How To Hack YouTube For Unlimited Cloud Storage

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Have you been looking for a free unlimited cloud-storage solution? If you're willing to run into a little terms-of-service risk, you could leverage YouTube as a storage medium. It's no replacement for Dropbox but a nifty little open-source program has made it possible.

Many of us remember the days of attempting to tune in to a favorite TV station and then seeing and hearing static. Newer TVs still receive this static, but when it shows up, they usually just blank out the screen and mute the audio. What is this static, though? The answer is simple: information or data.

A vastly oversimplified explanation is that when a TV receives an encoded signal, decodes that signal, and then emits images and sounds. Static occurs when either that frequency doesn't have the right kind of data or no discernable data, so the TV outputs what it can. The result is noise, but it is still data. There's a great write-up on How Stuff Works for more information on how TVs work.

It is on the premise that the static can hold information that this fun utility works. File data is encoded as black and white pixels which span each frame, with the length of the video being determined by how many frames are needed to encode the file. However, some more specific functionalities are involved, such as pixel scaling, to ensure data is not corrupted.

Now, is this method of storage against YouTube's terms of service? According to the creator of the tool, probably. DvorakDwarf says the functionality should be used less as a means of storage and more as a "party trick." This makes sense considering this storage method is not particularly efficient, with one YouTube commenter pointing out that 3.3GB of real storage will be required to store 1 GB of data this way.

YouTube Video of a file embed in the video

The tool is built using the popular programming language Rust and the OpenCV library. To try to prevent a cease and desist, the developer has opted to make ease-of-use improvements unlikely to be added to their repository.

There are several ways of installing and using the tool. Much like the documentation on the repository, we recommend using the docker compile. That allows the utility to remain entirely self-contained without affecting any programs or libraries installed on your computer. Compile and run the software, tell it what file you want to embed, and embed it. Voila, you now have a video that can be posted to YouTube and "stored." You can, of course, also use the same utility to extract files from YouTube—how else would you be able to get back your files?

This is a really clever trick and we'd love to see more from the creator in the future. For the time being, though, they have stated they are working on other personal projects.