Blog Post

BitTorrent takes on Dropbox with personal file sharing

BitTorrent Inc. launched a personal file sharing application called Share Thursday that aims to give users an alternative to paid cloud storage companies and media sharing over social networks. Share makes it possible to transfer files without any size limits to an unlimited number of personal contacts. Files are cached in the cloud, so users don’t have to be online at the same time to complete transfers.

On Wednesday, BitTorrent Chief Strategist Shahi Ghanem told me the company is relying on Amazon’s (s AMZN) EC2 and S3 services to provide this kind of caching infrastructure. Files are taken off the cloud as soon as they are sufficiently shared by peers. The app will initially be Windows-only, (s msft) but Mac (s aapl) users will be able to download an alpha version of the company’s µTorrent client that will offer them the same kind of personal file sharing functionality. Future Windows versions of µTorrent will also offer Share functionality.

BitTorrent's new Share app.

BitTorrent isn’t the first company to try to combine P2P and personal media sharing. Companies like Pando have long offered personal file transfers, but typically limit the size of files that can be transferred to manage hosting costs. Others like Podmailing were more aggressive, but eventually had to shut down due to exploding hosting costs.

Ghanem told me BitTorrent plans to avoid this kind of fate by building out its own P2P-powered personal cloud storage system. The system isn’t up and running yet, but the idea is that users will receive free storage for their files by sharing some hard drive space and bandwidth with other users.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Carlos Maya.

16 Responses to “BitTorrent takes on Dropbox with personal file sharing”

  1. Ronnie Kirh

    I heard a lot of stories lately about file sharing tools being released actually. I don’t complain though, this is the purpose of the internet: to make sharing information fast and simple. Something similar is this Audials Light freeware (you can have a look at it here: http://personalmediacloud.com) which functions as an audio and video sharing tool and more or less like a personal media cloud. You send an invite to someone and afterwards you are able to browse through eachothers files and download whatever you find interesting. And its video download feature is also pretty cool. I also use Dropbox a lot, but just for certain types of files, don’t know if it’s just me, but the low upload speed is really getting on my nerves.

  2. Christian Sciberras

    BitTorrent won’t convince me to switch from Dropbox. Why? I feel safer using proven technology from a company with a clean slate than a company that resorted to anything from adware, spyware and pr0n to get a buck or two. I’m also sure many share my same sentiments with this regards.

  3. Decentralized and private sharing!? Sounds like an oxymoron. I use Binfer for private file sharing and do not trust the cloud and specially a protocol designed for illegal file sharing.

  4. flashomatic

    BT rules, Dropbox sucks (yes I “understand it” you moron). I don’t wanna deal with all those other apps ya’ll are going off the handle with….if I can file share my shit all in the same program, count me in.

    • Jimmy Smith

      Are you the author? Even if so, moron is quite hasty. Truth is, I keep 99% personal stuff on DropBox – not about to share that over Utorrent. In my opinion, that’s a drastically different concept? Even with modern encryption algorithms, I would not want my data on another person’s machine.

  5. I’m not sure how many will go for this. People generally prefer something like Dropbox, if not Rapidshare, 4shared etc. They are much easier and simpler to use. I’m not comfortable sharing private files over a P2P network.

  6. Jon Henshaw

    Seems strange to compare this to Dropbox…at least as a competitor. Dropbox is more of a local file system that syncs via the cloud. The sharing component is a value add as far as I’m concerned. If you were going to compare Dropbox to another service, it should probably be Box.net and Bitcasa. And if you were going to compare Bittorrent’s Share in regards to the problem it solves, I would compare it to YouSendIt

    • Actually, this is quite a bit like dropbox, except that it is much more decentralized. The idea is that individual users collectively make up the cloud which makes it much cheaper. If you have several backups of a file on different computers, you pretty much have something like dropbox. You upload a file, it gets synced to S3 and then a little bit later via P2P to several other computers. Later, you’re free to sync it to another computer or back to yours. Thats how I envision it anyway. The beauty of dropbox is its ease of use (and versioning and cross platform support). This can be achieved using this system but whether they implement it properly or not is another matter.

  7. Mariusz Cieśla

    What I think will be the biggest problem of that thing is actually a fact that it’s an application and you put in some time and effort to make it work and meanwhile you don’t get simpler than Dropbox at this point with how closely it integrates with the operating system, which is a huge advantage for the user.