BitTorrent Keeps Your Data Off Cloud Services With its File
Security-minded folks tend to be wary of mass-market cloud-syncing services, particularly free ones. News today from BitTorrent might pique their interest. The company today announced a major update to a free syncing service it has been working on, BitTorrent Sync (now in version 1.4), that essentially makes it a consumer-friendly product ready for anyone to use.
BitTorrent Sync, which has been in an alpha state of release since April 2013, replicates the core objective of cloud-based file syncing, but without ever storing your data on any servers. The service uses the same peer-to-peer BitTorrent protocol that made the company's name in computing a decade ago. BitTorrent Sync syncs files between devices via the fastest available route.
For example, if you set up BitTorrent Sync to syncronize files that are stored on a Windows computer with an iPhone, and the two devices are in the same room and using the same network, they will get updates from one via the network. If three devices are syncing between one another, and you update files on one of them, the other two devices will retrieve the data from the shortest possible route, whether that means getting it right from the source, or getting it from the other synced device, or both. It makes use of any available route with an IP connection (no Bluetooth).
BitTorrent Sync also encrypts all files in the distributed system. Another aspect that privacy-concious users will appreciate is the fact that you don't even need an account to use BitTorrent Sync.
When it comes to sharing, the service uses an 'open trust model,' according to Erik Pounds, vice president of product management for BitTorrent Sync. Once someone is granted access to data, he explained, she or he can share it with anyone at all; but everyone with access to the files can see the other people who have access, too.
Additional security options include limiting files to read-only or read-and-write access. Links for sharing files can expire after a prescribed amount of time. Or, the user can set a link to expire after it has been accessed x times. When files are shared, the sender may have to approve the connection, which can be done with some anonymity still, as the verification can happen through validation codes, or simply affirming the receiver's IP address and name of the device that's requesting access.
Although some of the features are rich, the user interface was designed to be accessible to most computer users, giving you clear visibility into the status of the file being synced, receiving and sending rates (KB per second and MB per second), and progress with a progress bar. The simple interface is also customizable so you can hide any of the details that aren't relevant to you.
Pounds said the service is 'building a better Internet powered by people,' rather than companies hosting your data.
The free service is available on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, with versions rolling out today on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Support for NAS devices, including devices by Seagate, Netgear, and Synology, are planned in the coming weeks.