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BitTorrent Launches Dropbox Alternative 96

redletterdave writes "On Friday morning, BitTorrent launched the alpha test of a new, free public service called BitTorrent Sync, which allows users to securely back up and sync files over the Web using BitTorrent's platform. Unlike competing services such as Box or Dropbox, BitTorrent Sync doesn't store files on remote servers (which means that no third party has access to one's files), and also has no storage limits other than what your devices can hold."
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BitTorrent Launches Dropbox Alternative

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  • Argh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:45PM (#42694435)
    I can't find any seeders for my chemistry homework!
    • Re:Argh! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Capt.DrumkenBum ( 1173011 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:19PM (#42694833)
      I have been doing this for years.
      Zip up the files you want backed up, encrypt with your favourite encryption tool, then put it up on piratebay with a file name something like: Kari_Byron_XXX_PORN_3D.avi
      There will be thousands of seeders in an hour.
      • Re:Argh! (Score:5, Funny)

        by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:30PM (#42694965)
        That link appears to be broken. ALSO PLZ SEED!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I have been doing this for years.

        Zip up the files you want backed up, encrypt with your favourite encryption tool, then put it up on piratebay with a file name something like: Kari_Byron_XXX_PORN_3D.avi

        There will be thousands of seeders in an hour.

        If you really have been doing this for years, you may want to go check to see if any seeders are left. Yeah, you could get seeders at first, but once people realize its a bad file they are gone.

        • If you really have been doing this for years, you may want to go check to see if any seeders are left. Yeah, you could get seeders at first, but once people realize its a bad file they are gone.

          That's easy. Just jump on piratebay once a month or so, and comment that it is the greatest 3D porn movie in the history of 3D porn.
          Works like a charm. :)

        • Re:Argh! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @05:35PM (#42695735)

          If you really have been doing this for years, you may want to go check to see if any seeders are left. Yeah, you could get seeders at first, but once people realize its a bad file they are gone.

          But what if you encoded your backup in some real porn movie using steganography! That would be quite interesting.

          • Re:Argh! (Score:4, Funny)

            by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @06:03PM (#42696025) Homepage

            "I like the chick but when's she going to stop showing QR codes to the camera and get down to some action?"

            • That would be the lamest form of steganography ever. The message is kind of supposed to be hidden within the file, not part of the video.
          • Actually, this gave me an idea: why not back up your files steganographically in torrent files? Yes, the torrent files themselves -- let the trackers be your backup. It'd require a huge number of torrents for large files, but for anything small that you want to last a long time and be accessible anywhere, this could work quite well. Magnet files would probably work too.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Because it's incredibly space inefficient and you have to find something that you're able to legally share, popular and where nobody is going to notice the quality drop from hiding things in the file.

              It's easier and cheaper to just work an extra hour every month and pay for a proper backup service.

      • You people ruin Kari Byron pr0n for the rest of us.
      • You probably haven't done this in a while. New torrents don't generally show up publicly for the first hour or so, are deleted by admins if the admins deem them garbage and your account gets banned.
      • by phorm ( 591458 )

        Well, apparently it will last longer than if you had put them on MegaUpload... :-)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I can't find any seeders for my chemistry homework!

      That's what she said.

  • This doesn't sound like a distributed de-dupe (ie shards/map/anyone can send you a bit that you own/you assemble on the client). So how does it work, that makes BitTorrent naturally better?

    Any ideas?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ok, so I admit I glanced at the article, but I don't understand how

    Besides boasting unlimited storage, BitTorrent Sync also differs because it doesn’t use the cloud, despite performing similar functions to Box, Google Drive or Microsoft’s Skydrive, which means that no third party has access to one’s files.

    If free access and unlimited storage space wasn’t enough, users will be happy to know that BitTorrent Sync can share folders and file across all devices, from PCs to smartphones to

    • Exactly, either its stored (and therefore useful everywhere) which negates the purpose, or its stored in the cloud as a bunch of mappable bits. I just dont see any other way for this to work and not have you store everything you need on every device all the time (which of course is pointless).

      does it just make an imaginary filesystem out of multiple filesystems (in which case you are limited by your upstream)?

      • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @05:06PM (#42695351)

        It would be stored only on your own devices or on the devices of someone you trust.

        securely back up and sync files over the Web, using BitTorrent’s platform as both a backup and shared drive.

        Its not meant for wide distribution, just syncing machines with backup copies.
        So its not going to be sitting on vary many servers, and the people to whom your reveal/publish the link would be the only people who
        would even know about it. Because its all your own storage (in multiple locations) there is no system imposed limit.

        Still this would seem to allow sharing of files and warez between consenting users by private seeds.

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Aguazul2 ( 2591049 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:54PM (#42694537)
      Maybe it is stored 'on the network' by keeping the packets in the air constantly. If you can't beat bufferbloat, might as well make use of it for storage.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:01PM (#42694633) Homepage Journal

      This PC mag article [pcmag.com] has a bit more info. Apparently the "unlimited storage" means whatever your phone or PC can hold.

      So it looks like what it's doing is syncing files between your devices... or backing up your phone to your PC (if you wanna look at it that way), via the internet and using BT protocol... so you don't have to plug a USB cable from your phone to PC.

      • Yup. Near as I can tell (and details were scant, so I'm making a few assumptions), it sounds like their servers play the role of torrent tracker (i.e. helping to connect the devices together), your devices are generally the only peers in the swarm, you are your own seeder and leecher, and there are probably separate torrents for each individual file. Because of that last point, you're able to grant a friend access to a particular one of these micro-torrents, thus letting them leech that file from you in ord

        • This isn't really anything groundbreaking technologically speaking

          i don't know if you call it groundbreaking, but it's fundamentally different that other file sync solutions because your data is not stored on a server somewhere. seems like a neat idea for folks that are nervous about having their data sitting out there in the cloud.

          • by Omegium ( 576650 )
            If it is not stored somewhere on the internet, then both your devices must be online to be able to share. It is not different from using sftp or https or any other direct protocol that can transfer files. And I doubt that bittorrent is the most efficient one for that. But their real reason is probably to increase legitimate bittorrent use, to make it harder for ISP's to block it.
    • by wzinc ( 612701 )
      Speculation: I was thinking maybe the parts of everyone's files are kept encrypted on other seeders. So, if you use 100GB, you must also donate 100GB to the cause for others' files. When they say the files aren't kept on remote servers, they mean centralized servers, like DropBox. Interesting concept...
      • that's not what it is. it essentially uses BT to keep your files in sync across all of your devices. the only limit is the amount of space available across all of your devices.

    • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:07PM (#42694683)

      Well I would think it's going to be a local or tunneled set of torrent streams but there's FreeFileSync [sourceforge.net] which works quite well.

      • Dropbox's main advantage over things like FreeFileSync is that it is compatible and integrated with all major platforms, including smartphones. If BitTorrent Sync can pull that off, then they have my attention.

        • Agreed. I am still curious about implementation ala BitTorrent so I'm thinking your own private set of trackers? mechanically it would be great and I wouldn't have to rely on an intermediary. Right now though I use BoxCryptor on my Windows and Android devices, Encfs on Linux just to keep my cloudified synchronized data private.

  • Seems like this would require a lot of space. Also wonder what happens to data that's abandoned by the owner. I definitely like the idea of not having to rely on Google/Dropbox though.
    • by weeble ( 50918 )

      Well in this case maybe a better option is to use http://owncloud.org/ [owncloud.org] an open source alternative to Dropbox where friends, communities or trusted companies run services for smaller groups.

      • owncloud does synchronzing between devices? I thought it was just a remote storage utility with a web interface (and some fancy extensions).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe I'm just not understanding it all, but

    1) What's stopping you from being unable to access files due to seeders being offline? With Dropbox I can just get the file from their site and I'm done, but it seems like with this setup I'm counting on random people having my file + being online.

    2) How is a third party access to files worse than numerous people holding it? Dropbox doesn't give a damn what you have in there. I have a folder hundreds of megabytes in size filled with unsavory materials, that I woul

    • by gmuslera ( 3436 )
      Backup and sync sounds a lot like sharing with a lot of devices/parties your files. If you lose your local information, and there is no one online to sync with, well, you don't have it back yet. And as with sharing, if you don't get the file seed (i.e. the .torrent) you should not be able to get it, the decryption process could depend on a private key/passphrase, so even knowing how is the process you should be safe (unless is used this universal decryptor [xkcd.com])
    • I don't think the data is stored anywhere except on the owner's devices. From what I can tell, the point is to sync data across devices, not to have "cloud" storage for your data. It performs the same sync function as Dropbox, without the cloud storage part. It is true that there are other ways to do this (e.g. Owncloud, mentioned by another poster). Bittorrent might have certain advantages, especially if you have the data synced with many different devices. If they can make it as simple as Dropbox, then I

      • It sounds like it's trying to replace Unison.

        This is a good goal, because although Unison is one of the best tools out there, it's still limited in a lot of ways (tends to enforce a star topology). I've had an idea banging around in my head for a long while that some type of distributed protocol would be preferable - use a BitTorrent tracker to let computers find each other, then let the most recent copy amongst them to sync (with some conflict resolution logic).

    • I think that the summary created a red herring by using the phrase, "back-up". The article it links too only describes a way to "share and save documents" over the internet. The PC Mag article referenced by Spy Handler above only talked about synchronizing devices across multiple platforms. That is the real purpose for Dropbox -- I regard it as too expensive to use an a cloud storage or backup, though it does do that. Its main use is to allow users to share files across multiple devices. I am guessing
    • by Anonymous Coward

      1) YOUR devices are the seeders. If they're offline ... well, you fix them.

      2) YOUR devices are the seeders. Your stuff holds the data. If you don't trust your own devices with the data ... well, not sure what to do about that. Secure them better?

      This looks like Bittorrent's version of something like Unison [upenn.edu] -- i.e. personal, synchronized, multi-device backups with Bittorrent as the transfer protocol rather than using rsync. This sounds ... potentially awesome. And exactly what I've wanted for years. O

  • I have very little value in accessing my data on a website, but it's very convenient for me to have a folder synced between two disparate computers. It's like copying data to a flash drive to take it home from work except that you don't have to worry about accidentally putting the flash drive through the washing machine. It's just there by the time I get home.

    As a Windows user, I had been using Windows Live Mesh to take care of this (as well as remote desktop). Microsoft is replacing Mesh with SkyDrive, th
  • Almost perfect (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Wuala had a great P2P storage trading scheme, if you provided 100G to the swarm you got 100G of swarm storage. Then they stuffed it up by capping the storage to 2G unless you pay $n/GB

    Wuala missed the greatest opportunity, they should have allowed people in the swarm to trade storage for money and wuala could have taken a cut, say 30% like Apple do. This way the market sets the price per GB, but wuala always gets its cut, if you wanna pay to stor your chemistry homework then fine.

  • Link to Sign Up (Score:5, Informative)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:17PM (#42694801)

    Crappy links in the article. To sign up, er "apply", for the alpha:
    http://labs.bittorrent.com/experiments/sync.html [bittorrent.com]

  • You could possibly run http://owncloud.org/ [owncloud.org] yourself on an Amazon server and have as much storage as you want. There are clients for Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android.

    It took me 30 minutes to set one up. While I may sound like an advert, I am just really excited as I have been waiting for something like this for years.

    I think European companies that need to keep data inside Europe for regulatory reasons can then run this for their employees inside their firewalls / VPNs.

    • by Junta ( 36770 )
      <quote>on an Amazon server and have as much storage as you want</quote>

      Well, one, hosting is not cheap, particularly if you are storage intensive. Having owncloud from the home is a solution around this... but fundamentally it represents a centralized model where you have a likely single point of failure. Your owncloud instance could be killed and all associated devices would be in a pickle.

      My assumption with this is that it is more decentralized. Meaning that it's more natural to reach a sta
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:31PM (#42694981)

    I'm reminded of the old joke that if you want you photos/videos/etc backed up in a way that will outlast traditional back up media lifespans, simply upload it to a torrent and let it stay on the Internet being seeded by strangers sharing your stuff.

    • by friedman101 ( 618627 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @05:41PM (#42695805)
      Not to be rude but that is an awful joke.
      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        No offense to me. I didn't come up with it. Just a line I see here when talking about ways to archive personal data "just put it in a torrent and you'll always be able to get a copy of it".

        • "just put it in a torrent and you'll always be able to get a copy of it".

          I think this comes from Linus's observation that real men don't back up, they upload their work to an FTP server.

          The trick is offering something that anybody else would want. I've had a torrent client waiting a month for somebody to seed a torrent that other people would actually want.

    • by sdnoob ( 917382 )

      what is this torrent thing you speak of? i must be getting real old, because i remember it being "real men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it"

  • If you've ever used P2P services for, well... anything, you know they are slow and unreliable. Whether it's DNS, VPN, file transfers, or a form of currency. Yet they keep coming out with new useless ways to implement this technology into a service no one will use. I don't get it.
  • Perhaps you have your own tracker through this. Your files don't necessarily need to be sync'd with all devices, but each device have different files tracked. This service may gave us our own 'Tracker' that would index our 'cloud' files that you pick which you want downloaded, of course, going through BitTorrent's service. So it would be true, the max file size/capacity would be the combined capacity of your devices. As long as your device is on and connected to the internet, you could retrieve that file,
  • So, you store your files on your own computers, but it makes them available from an online source? I don't see how this is better than the myriad of free services out there. If I'm talking about large quantities of data, there are better ways to do it. Small data = free with current BETTER methods. Waste of time.
  • If I understand this correctly, this new bittorrent product will NOT back up your files. It is for file synchronization only.

    In other words, if you have 5 devices synced up, and you corrupt or delete an important file from one of the devices, that file is toast. It is not backed up to any remote location.

    • That's all I want it to do. I've tried a number of solutions for syncronizing folders like this before, haven't been happy with any of them. I started to write my own (and it kind of worked), but I haven't had the time to really turn it into something useful.

      If I want to back something up, I back it up. Mostly, I want to synchronize my music collection between home, work, and laptop and my movie collection between home and laptop.

  • by Jedi Holocron ( 225191 ) on Friday January 25, 2013 @06:14PM (#42696153) Homepage Journal

    This is basically an "open source" version of what http://www.cubby.com/ [cubby.com] did in their free beta--but is now a paid part of the service. It was called "DirectSync" ( https://www.cubby.com/features/ [cubby.com] ) and didn't use any of the "cloud" part of storage from the service. You can see how it is now part of the paid service here: https://www.cubby.com/pricing/ [cubby.com]

    I would expect any number of other providers are looking at this for a paid service. High end versions would include Globalscape's WAFS ( http://www.globalscape.com/wafs/ [globalscape.com] ) and File Replication Pro ( http://www.filereplicationpro.com/ [filereplicationpro.com] ).

    Free with good encryption is a great idea IMO. I for one would use it.

    • Cubby is awful though, it polls your disk instead of registering with the OS for change notifications-- meaning if your Cubby is on an external HD, it never goes to sleep.

      The "gold master" in this space is Windows Live Mesh. Microsoft is (stupidly) closing that down, and there's no replacement anywhere of equivalent ease and quality.

      Hopefully Bittorrent's new product will become that replacement. Or Microsoft will pull their head out of their ass and turn the servers back on.

      • by mercnet ( 691993 )
        I just started my first major python application to replace live mesh as I want local sync across windows and my Linux boxes at work.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...by storing them on my own storage? Brilliant!!!!!

  • by Thagg ( 9904 ) <thadbeier@gmail.com> on Saturday January 26, 2013 @12:25AM (#42698607) Journal

    I was hoping to use exactly something like this years ago, when I had to transfer tens of GB to and from Korea every day when I was working at Hammerhead Productions. Using rsync was painfully slow, because TCP/IP required acknowledgement of each packet -- and even though our bandwidth was high, our latency was very long, and we were getting less than 1 Mbps rather than the 10 Mbps we should have been getting.

    Using something like BitTorrent, which uses UDP and does the error checking itself asynchronously would have been a huge help. We had multiple cable modems on both ends, and BitTorrent would have been perfect.

    In the end, I wrote a simple tool which copied files using scp, but ran 10 threads with 10 separate scp calls and got almost 10 Mbps from each cable modem.

    Aspera does similar things at insane prices.

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.