YouTubeDrive: Store Files as YouTube Videos

Hacker News - Tue May 24 17:31

YouTubeDrive Banner

YouTubeDrive is a Wolfram Language (aka Mathematica) package that encodes/decodes arbitrary data to/from simple RGB videos which are automatically uploaded to/downloaded from YouTube. Since YouTube imposes no limits on the total number or length of videos users can upload, this provides an effectively infinite but extremely slow form of file storage.

YouTubeDrive depends externally on FFmpeg, youtube-upload, and youtube-dl. These programs must be downloaded and installed separately, and prior to first use, YouTubeDrive must be configured with their install locations. See below for details.

YouTubeDrive is a silly proof-of-concept, and I do not endorse its high-volume use.

Usage Example

Usage Example

NOTE: A short time needs to pass between calls to YouTubeUpload and YouTubeRetrieve for YouTube to process the uploaded video. I find that 5-10 minutes suffices for small (less than 10MB) file uploads.

The video YouTubeDrive produces in this example can be viewed at


  • Install FFmpeg, youtube-upload, and youtube-dl as your operating system dictates.

  • Find an arbitrary test video, say test.mp4, and run youtube-upload --title="Test Video" test.mp4. Follow the displayed instructions to create an OAuth token for your YouTube account. This will be the YouTube account used for all YouTubeDrive uploads.

  • Download and open YouTubeDrive.wl from this repository.

  • In lines 75-77, enter the install locations of the FFmpeg, youtube-upload, and youtube-dl executables. Make sure to use proper string escape sequences (in particular, backslashes \ need to be escaped as double-backslashes \\ in Windows paths).

    75 | FFmpegExecutablePath = "FFMPEG_PATH_HERE";
    76 | YouTubeUploadExecutablePath = "YOUTUBE-UPLOAD_PATH_HERE";
    77 | YouTubeDLExecutablePath = "YOUTUBE-DL_PATH_HERE";

    For example, I use the following install locations on my system (Windows 10):

    75 | FFmpegExecutablePath = "C:\\Games\\MiscExes\\ffmpeg.exe";
    76 | YouTubeUploadExecutablePath = Sequence["python",
    77 |   "C:\\Users\\dzhan\\AppData\\Local\\Programs\\" <>
    78 |       "Python\\Python35\\Scripts\\"];
    79 | YouTubeDLExecutablePath = "C:\\Games\\MiscExes\\youtube-dl.exe";

    Note the use of Sequence[] to call python above.

  • After making the above edits, open YouTubeDrive.wl with Mathematica. Then, open the File ⇨ Install... dialog, and select the following options:

    • Type of Item to Install: Package
    • Source: YouTubeDrive.wl
    • Install Name: YouTubeDrive (no .wl suffix)

    Choose installation for all users or the current user only, according to your preference, and click OK.