Bittorrent Sync is amazing in a number of ways. But, because of its simplicity, it allows for uses far beyond even what the authors might have envisioned. The basic idea is to keep files synchronized between two or more devices – much like Dropbox, but without storing these files on a server. Since I’ve had the chance to look at Bittorrent Sync back in April, a number of thoughts have come to mind that I thought I’d share.
Security is a big deal. With people more paranoid than ever, Sync is, by nature, a secure service. The challenge, however, is that the generated secret key is all that a bad guy needs to gain access to files and possibly delete them. Bittorrent themselves explained this level of authentication:
“So we came up with Secrets. The Secret is a fully random 160-bit key that’s impossible to brute force. You can use or generate as many Secrets as you need.”
While the likelihood of anyone guessing a keys like “AHG2SAAF73LNARY9D1BT6QNCMAFL7Z8WE” is low, the possibility does exist. Pairing the generated key with a pass phrase or some other method if optional user-created lock could make the tool even more secure.
More Ways to use Sync
1. User home directories on laptops
The mobile nature of laptops forces users to be in and out of the office, but setting up a Sync-centric folder structure for user’s to read and edit files could keep all the data updated and centralized on the company’s file server.
2. Cloud backup service
Setting up a large storage space (possibly Network Attached Storage) and using Sync to pull in files from all client locations as a central backup tool. Sync would be setup to watch live share folders and synchronize in a read-only pattern back to the NAS device.
3. Personal data multi backup
By placing Sync on every computer possible and designating a folder for your data, this might effectively distribute backups to multiple places and protect you from hardware failure. Use this scenario on all family member’s computers and create a multi-computer backup system that protects everyone’s data, all the time.
4. Sharing a collection
That awesome batch of sunset photos is growing and you’d like to show everyone that wants to see them. You don’t want to email each file out as you add them and want something more automatic. Share the folder’s Sync read-only key with friends (and on Twitter) and let anyone who’s interested keep up-to-date as you add new content.
5. Creating a dead drop
I can’t recall where I saw this, but the idea that a location would be available to anyone to add or remove anything in public is a really compelling social experiment. I would expect to see more of this (and various public shares of data) more often in the future.
Bittorrent Sync is currently in public beta. Bittorrent intends to monetize Sync by offering enterprise-level features.