Bit by bit, BitTorrent, the P2P platform that has worked hard to erase connotations of piracy, is building out a suite of services around its architecture that let users share, store and download large files, positioning itself as a competitor to the likes of Dropbox, Box, Google and more. The latest development is the company taking Sync, its file synchronizing service, out of alpha and into beta. Along with that, it is opening up the platform to more users by adding more features and an Android app, with iOS to come soon.
Sync is free to use, like the rest of BitTorrent’s services today, but a spokesperson tells me that this is also laying the groundwork for the company also to start introducing paid, premium services aimed at enterprises and power users.
“We are exploring potential business models, which may include premium features or applications for specific use cases,” a spokesperson said. “For example, Sync has wonderful potential for enterprise which will require specific features.”
Targeting businesses seems to be the right track. This BitTorrent forum about Sync seems to feature a number of use cases in which IT people are using the service in remote environments to keep data in order between main offices and satellites. This is in contrast to services like the BitTorrent Bundle, which on one end is aimed at those in the creative industries (like musicians) as a way of distributing their content, but also ultimately at consumers for downloading those bundles.
The enterprise focus for Sync also makes sense when you consider one of the new features being launched today: an archiving option that lets users also collect previous versions of a file. This not only adds more functionality to Sync today but shows off to users one way in which the service can grow by adding more premium (paid) services in the future.
Since launching in alpha earlier this year out of BitTorrent Labs, Sync — which complements the file transfer service SoShare, also in beta — has been used to synchronize some 8 petabytes of data. While services like BitTorrent Bundles are more con
While we have seen a number of acquisitions in the startup space — and moves from companies like Google to abruptly shut down services — BitTorrent for now is using its permanence as one of its unique selling points. “Even if we were to shut down the program — for instance, as with the recent example of Google Reader for RSS — Sync users will still be able to use Sync,” a spokesperson tells me. This is because none of the data ever gets stored on BitTorrent servers, and once a user downloads the BitTorrent client to manage a piece of data, they have it for life.
It’s also for that reason — a lack of storage on BitTorrent servers — that the company is also touting something else: the inherent security of a service that distributes files over a P2P architecture; and the subsequent ability for those files and data to forever remain out of the hands of authorities like the NSA. That’s a timely feature giving all the controversy around the Prism service and the role played by major internet companies in facilitating data collection.
“With BitTorrent Sync your data is only stored on devices you own, or on devices which you have given permission to sync with your data,” the spokesperson notes. “Your data is not stored on a cloud/server that a third party can hack or find back door access; and we do not host any of the data. We can’t give access to data that we do not have.”
As with the archiving/versioning service, BitTorrent says that mobile apps have been one the most-requested features for Sync. This app will let people use the app to synchronize folders on remote computers, as well as send files to other mobile devices — a counterbalance to the push for more data to be uploaded and live in the clouds.