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Summary:

BitTorrent’s upcoming Sync app promises identical copies of any of your files on all of your computers. The company is now looking for first alpha-testers.

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photo: . VJ Fungo.

BitTorrent Inc. is working on an application called Sync that uses P2P technology to sync your files between your devices. The company announced the pre-Alpha test of Sync on its blog Thursday, where it also highlighted the launch of its new BitTorrent Labs website that offers additional details about this and other projects it is working on.

A first screenshot of a pre-Alpha version of BitTorrent's Sync app.

A first screenshot of a pre-Alpha version of BitTorrent’s Sync app.

The announcement blog post is somewhat scarce on details, but here’s what I’ve been told by the company: Sync will enable direct synchronization between your machines without any cloud caching. File transfers will be protected via 256 bit AES encryption. There are native apps for Mac OS, Windows and Linux, as well as a native NAS integration.

The post doesn’t mention mobile devices, but a screenshot provided by BitTorrent shows a device icon that clearly features a mobile phone — so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see syncing to phones and tablets at some point as well. I asked BitTorrent about this, and a company spokesperson sent me a somewhat vague answer: “It may be too early to say when mobile will be in play, but BitTorrent is committed to mobile across the board.”

Users who want to find out more can sign up for the Sync Alpha test online.

BitTorrent has been rolling out a number of new projects and experiments lately, including the Chrome extension BitTorrent Surf that enables Chrome users to download torrents from within their browsers, the Facebook file sharing app Beam It Over and the Javascript BitTorrent platform Torque. On Thursday, the company launched a Labs section on its website that is dedicated to all kinds of things that aren’t quite ready to become mainstream consumer products. “We call it our test kitchen. Our playground,” the Lab announcement blog post read.

BitTorrent’s new Sync is going to compete with a number of established players. File syncing has been a key functionality of cloud storage providers like Dropbox and Sugarsync, and big players like Google and Amazon also offer syncing as part of their consumer cloud storage solutions.

BitTorrent’s advantage is that it has an impressive app distribution reach. The company has more than 170 million active users for its BitTorrent and uTorrent clients. If it can convince just a fraction of those to try out Sync, then it might actually have a chance.

Image courtesy of Flickr user . VJ Fungo.

  1. RTMFP in Flash has had this ability 2 yrs ago. It’s called Object Replication. And a quick google search found a pretty simple sample that does just that.

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  2. Finally someone besides LogMeIn (who have a similar service called Cubby) realizes that not everyone wants their files in the cloud. Some of us just want encrypted P2P syncing.

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  3. Glad to see more legit uses coming out of BitTorrent. Maybe this will eventually clean up the bad image. I am curious as to whether this still uses the BitTorrent network or some other way of transferring the files.

    I would look into it a little more, but the BitTorrent site is taboo through Websense at work.

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    1. Anonymous Coward Friday, February 8, 2013

      But there are already many legit uses for torrents. I’ve not downloaded a Linux DVD image any other way in years.

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      1. I agree, there are many legit uses for torrents. In addition to large ISOs, many games use some form of P2P for patch updates. I’m just glad to additional services added that will help the image of BitTorrent to people who don’t have the knowledge that we have.

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    2. BitTorrent is decentralized, meaning that the BitTorrent network is not needed for the transfer of files, just a signature file called a torrent.

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      1. Yes, when I refereed to the “BitTorrent Network” I was referring to the decentralized mass. Sorry for the confusion.

        Everything I’ve read says there is no cloud caching, so I’m kinda curious as to how this works. I expect that if I am syncing between two computers, they both have to be online at the same time. I can’t connect one computer at home and let it upload updates to the decentralized cloud, disconnect and then go to another computer and connect and download the updates.

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  4. Anonymous Coward Friday, February 8, 2013

    IMO BitTorrent’s advantage is not its installed user base, but the fact that it provides a service which Google, Amazon and other cloud storage providers don’t – it doesn’t store anything in the cloud, it lets you sync info on your devices without giving in-between parties a possibility to snoop on your data.

    Especially in enterprise setups this will probably be a huge advantage.

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