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BitTorrent Opens Up Its Sync Alpha To the Public For Windows, Mac, and Linux 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the solutions-in-search-of-problems dept.
An anonymous reader writes "BitTorrent on Tuesday announced it has released its file synchronization tool Sync into open alpha. You can download the latest version now for Windows, Mac, and Linux over at labs.bittorrent.com. The company first announced its Sync software back in January, explaining at the time that it uses peer-to-peer technology to synchronize personal files across multiple computers and devices."
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BitTorrent Opens Up Its Sync Alpha To the Public For Windows, Mac, and Linux

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  • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @03:40PM (#43529399)

    What advantage does this hold over existing "peer to peer" solutions like rsync or Unison? Is it just speed? I imagine that each additional update will speed up until downstream bandwidth is exhausted. If you have symmetric up/down, then there would be no speed advantage.

    • Re:Advantages? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sirber (891722) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @03:50PM (#43529517) Homepage
      look at it as a decentralized dropbox. rsync is a manual solution and doesn't work/easy well on windows and requires manual router configuration.
      • And tends to suck when you have changes happening on both end, and when you want simple conflict resolution, and when you have more than two devices, or when both sides are moving targets...

        Rsync is about as far from a "set it and forget it" syncing solution as you can possibly get, the list of caveats and cautions is about as long as the feature list.

        • by timbo234 (833667)

          Exactly, but Unison doesn't have those problems - it handles where changes have happened on both ends and flags conflicts. I can use my desktop and laptop as much as I want without having to remember which files I modified on which and then simply run Unison to sync my home directory between the two devices.

          What does this bittorrent one have as advantages over that?

          • by l3iggs (1108141)

            Advantages over Unison:
            ~This is real time syncing initiated automatically on a file change. Unison syncs when you ask it to.
            ~Gracefully handles more than 2 devices. Unison was designed to keep files on 2 devices in sync. This is designed to keep files on N devices in sync. This also means you have N copies of your files for potentially better redundancy.
            ~Speed. Here a file you're missing may be transferred from multiple hosts. In the case where you have just 2 nodes in your network it reduces to Unison spee

            • by timbo234 (833667)

              That's the kind of answer that should be '+5 informative'. I'll keep using Unison as I only have 2 devices I need to sync between at the moment, but consider this for the future if I get an Ubuntu Tablet or something like that.

    • Re:Advantages? (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @03:55PM (#43529583) Journal

      For the non-techies, I assume that coming, out of the box, with the various tricks that bittorrent clients use to Just Work behind nasty little plastic NAT boxes would be the major advantage. Nothing intrinsic to bittorrent as a protocol; but certainly a side effect of bittorrent's history.

      It might also be useful if your sharing scenario involves enough people that the efficiencies of bittorrent come into play. If it's just keeping Host A and Host B synchronized, you aren't going to do much better than break even, at best, with rsync. If your plan involves all two dozen members of your club, or your entire extended family and a tedious-but-HD vacation video, bittorrent starts to look better; but with the advantage that this 'key/encryption' stuff allows you to have a single host serving different folders with different access controls, unlike conventional trackers that are usually 'public' or 'private', with granular control, if any, mostly hacked on.

      Aside from the ease of use, though, the amount of benefit you'd see over rsync seems likely to be directly related to how wide your distribution is.

      • It might also be useful if your sharing scenario involves enough people that the efficiencies of bittorrent come into play.

        I imagine that the next step for BitTorrent is to make a corporate play.

        • It would be interesting to see how that would work for them: dropbox is a total raging clusterfuck for anything that you actually need to keep secure(I once caught a user storing fucking children's medical records on a personal dropbox account. That was not a fun chat for anybody involved...); but it's hard to deny that the consumer-derived 'cloud sharing' stuff frequently beats the IT department on usability and convenience.

          If I were BitTorrent, inc. a corporate play would certainly seem sensible(not too m

          • but it's hard to deny that the consumer-derived 'cloud sharing' stuff frequently beats the IT department on usability and convenience.

            Quattro Pro and Wordstar on MSDOS 6.0 beats almost anything the IT department offers in terms of usability and convenience.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            dropbox is a total raging clusterfuck for anything that you actually need to keep secure(I once caught a user storing fucking children's medical records on a personal dropbox account.

            You can't really create a product that lets you easily store and share information then moan when some people store and share information inappropriately.

            If someone wants to put their name, address, phone numbers and credit card details on facebook with no privacy settings, how are you going to stop them?

            • I don't care what people do with their data on dropbox. My point was that, as a tool for environments that handle sensitive data dropbox is deeply unsuitable. I can definitely understand why people would want to use it, it sure is handy; but in a situation where you have an obligation to safeguard data pertaining to other people, you are no longer in "what people do with their data" territory, and dropbox is seriously flawed.

          • by rsborg (111459)

            Bittorrent Sync could be even more private than Dropbox - you can send out time-limited shares and restrict permissions, etc.

            I think BTSync could completely take over the corporate space if it's well designed enough. I can already see exactly how this would supplant Sparkleshare, SFTP and/or Dropbox for working on large/sparse project teams with large relatively static datasets (e.g.: large report output files, XML interchange data, etc)

            It's still not clear whether BTSync does binary diffs, and it definite

    • Re:Advantages? (Score:4, Informative)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @04:13PM (#43529785) Homepage

      If you have symmetric up/down, then there would be no speed advantage.

      Well I suppose it still depends. Imagine you have 20 computers staying in sync, all through symmetric 10mbps connections, then you add another. Even if the additional computer only has a 10Mbps connection, meaning you may not get the download faster than simply downloading from one source, you could still see a benefit from distributing the load among the other 20 computers. So instead of saturating the upload pipe for one computer, you're a minor .5mbps upload on each.

    • by fwarren (579763)

      With 2 computers involved no advantage over rsync or Unison as far as speed of transfer. If you have 3 or more computers this is a better option. This works just like any other torrent. If a file is on computer A, and computers B and C need it. As B gets part of it and C gets a different part of it, then B and C can help update each other in the case of A's pipe being saturated. If you are trying to sync A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H, then it will be MUCH faster and much less complex to maintain.

      Once you add in

  • Seems like a better alternative to my paid Dropbox subscription.

  • by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @03:43PM (#43529435)
    Watch Game of Thrones on all your computers!
  • I like having someone else to be responsible for my data. I tend to lose it.
    • Yeah, I was hoping this would be some sort of mesh backup, where files are encrypted and spread redundantly throughout the network.

      Still, it could be a useful collaboration tool, but not a replacement for Dropbox or Crashplan.

  • Why would anybody touch it after this:

    https://www.google.ca/search?q=bittorrent+MPAA+Team [google.ca]

    • "Why would anybody touch it after this:"

      Who the hell cares about that?

      That only has to do with BitTorrent's (the company) OWN servers. And they weren't aggregating infringing links anyway.

      The vast majority of BitTorrent traffic has absolutely nothing to do with BitTorrent, the company.

      As far as I know, there is no way to track file syncing via BitTorrent, unless your ISP is monitoring your usage at the last mile. You might be able to pull off a man-in-the-middle, or spoof a node, IF you knew somebody was about to sync. But how many machi

      • If it's not open source it could be monitoring what you have legit or not.

        No network hacks required, just a patient app reporting back a-la-RealJukeBox randomly at 3am 6-9 months after product launch.

        PS: Thanks for the Troll paint job.

  • by stewsters (1406737) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @04:11PM (#43529771)
    So, where is the link to the github page where we can view the source?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. I try not to be a zealot for FOSS, but this just seems like the sort of software that I would want to make damn sure the public can see the source on. You don't get to just say "It's encrypted!" and have me believe everything was done correctly.

  • Interesting... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @04:32PM (#43529995) Homepage

    I'll tell you, this seems to me to be a very interesting development. I think the next step they should be looking at is to develop the ability to purposefully implement partial replicas at different sites, allowing for a kind of distributed filesystem.

    For example, lets say I set up 30 servers around the world, each with this Bitorrent Sync system set up, each containing 20 TB of data. Now in order for Bittorrent to work, I don't think I need each of those servers to have a full copy of every file. Imagine I could say, "Make sure than any one block is automatically stored on at least 6 servers". Now I have 100 TB of redundant storage online accessible via the bittorrent protocol. Then I could have different individual clients set to only sync a certain subset of that storage.

  • by RanceJustice (2028040) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @05:56PM (#43530843)

    After reading over threads such as http://forum.bittorrent.com/topic/8816-will-syncapp-be-open-source/ [bittorrent.com] on their website, I am disappointed to find that SyncApp (as well as Surf, and Live, other BTLabs projects) is not currently open source, and apparently the most they're shooting for at the moment is some sort of API in the future. While I was initially intrigued by Sync's feature set, especially the "shared secret" encryption variations (master key, one way sync, one time sync and more.), as well as that they could be integrated within BitTorrent's existing (and open source) protocols such as DHT, using a BitTorrent tracker, PEX, stream encryption etc, when I read that the implementation was not planning to be free and open source, that is a major blow to its long-term viability as part of next-generation file-sharing protocols.

    Especially in a world of "Six Strikes", overzealous industry groups and corporate cronies, government censorship and more, it is absolutely imperative that the tools that those interested in privacy, activism, journalism etc...be free and open source. From being able to audit the code if you have the skills, to crafting decentralized and inter-operative networks across multiple platforms, operating systems and more etc... FOSS is necessary. I can nearly guarantee that if the original BitTorrent protocol had not been released free and open source (along with many of the most popular evolutions of said protocol, such as DHT/PEX/uTP, encryption, private trackers etc..) it would not have come to such prominence. I personally am no fan of the proprietary uTorrent client, but thankfully I can make use of Deluge, KTorrent, or Transmission and have access to the latest features on the BitTorrent network, able to interact with others so long as they were using open protocols. I'd love to see this extend to Sync, which I feel could be excellent not just for users syncing their data amongst multiple computing devices of their own, or sharing with friends, but creating another protective web when it comes to file-sharing, adding privacy protections - an intermediary step that doesn't have nearly the speed/hardware demands of say, operating BitTorrent exclusively through Tor.

    Sync, Torque/btapp.js (One has to install the proprietary, headless Torque client (or uTorrent) which has very little documentation on its features/privacy etc... why not have them simply integrate with an open API that any BT client with sufficient support can be called to utilize - thus, using all the safety features like my blocklist, encryption preferences etc... in my client of choice?), Live, Surf (Which I hope will be open and customizable, available on Firefox ASAP,) SoShare - all of these BitTorrent Labs productions sadly seam to be proprietary in nature (though, I must give them kudos for offering Linux versions of Sync for instance). Much like the acquisition of the proprietary uTorrent and the "Plus" version of the client being sold, BitTorrent's latest ventures seem to be steering away from the free and open source paradigm that made the protocol such a great advance in filesharing.

    When it comes to file sharing in today's legal and technical clime, proprietary and centralized just won't do. What Sync offers is novel and could create additional layers of security (consider an entire tracker using Sync technology where connecting to each torrent requires a unique "Shared secret", which is available exclusively on a totally different site, extrapolating another legal level of obfuscation, deny-ability, and privacy protection), the community cannot trust it offered as a proprietary service with a central point of failure (legally) and the inability to audit the code. Hopefully, this will change and that Sync and other elements will help to extend BitTorrent as the excellent, multifaceted, free and open tool for disseminating data... but for the time being, it is a curiosity that is in the hands of a company that seems to put profit and control above user privacy and technical freedom/openness

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