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Streaming encrypted movies using rclone from Google Drive

Netflix is expensive. So what if you legally obtained copies of movies you want to watch, but you don't have enough storage space on your computer to, but have more than enough bandwidth? rclone is a great utility in order to synchronize files between different cloud storage systems, and for the purposes of this analysis, I'm going to use Google Drive because educational Google Drive accounts have unlimited storage. We can take advantage of this storage however we want, so I've gone ahead and uploaded my entire movie library (which, some is DRM protected, and as I found out later, cannot be streamed without DRM protection stripped from the file).

For the purposes of this, we will be taking a look at Lion King, which was released in 1994.

The file is 4.7GB, in 1080p, so in order to stream the video, we're going to need some serious bandwidth. Luckily...

It seems like my download speed is being throttled during peak hours, or the rest of my family is also using the internet, as I am usually getting 80Mbps. No matter, we can calculate if this will be enough: Lion King is 1 hours and 29 minutes, or 5340 seconds. 4705566713/5340 = 881192 bytes per second, or 7.049 Mbps. Perfect. That's more than enough.

Why would we encrypt our movies? Google has a policy of banning those who upload works of copyright infringement, and although they often don't enforce it as long as you haven't shared the file, it is better to be safe than sorry.

This isn't a guide on how to set up rclone (note I would have added "how to" to the title), but rather an analysis on how viable it is. When I'm uploading movies, I noticed that the maximum speed is approximately 1.8 Mbps while uploading. That isn't enough, however...

It does look like there is some artificating...

That's some really ugly artifacting, not anything we can just ignore... is all hope lost?

Not just yet! We can make some tweaks to make it run better, like allowing the stream to cache for 10 seconds before starting the movie, and we get this:

Perfect! That's more than watchable. After letting the movie run for half an hour (I mean, I am watching it...) I did not notice any artifacts, and I think I can safely say that streaming movies from Google Drive is a totally feasible and great idea in order to save local storage space.

Gideon Tong