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back to article BitTorrent offers file sync tool for PCs and NAS

BitTorrent has opened the Alpha testing program for its new BitTorrent Sync tool to all. Announced last January but only available to a select few, BitTorrent Sync looks a bit like the numerous DropBox-without-the-cloud-in-the-middle contenders inasmuch as it lets you set up a source of data, then involve trusted third parties …

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Very interesting

Assuming it goes open-source (or at least the protocols do, so it is properly reviewed), this is a great idea as you get all of the benefits of "the cloud" without having to open your privates to those you don't trust that much. Like MS, Google, Amazon, etc...

Ideal for extended families so a selection of machines can share files and act as back-up for each other.

Of course, if it has a "read-only mode" (i.e. original creator can make changes that propagate across all shares, no one else can) then it could stir up a lot of controversy as The Pirate Bay's web site could become a local searchable share on thousands of machines and be all but unblockable by court orders to ISPs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Very interesting

So, its a timely anti fascism tool...

... since fascism paired with eugenics has once again become a threat to humanity.

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Raspberry Pi

"Raspberry Pi users have made the new software work under Raspbian, which makes the tiny computer an even more tempting home-brew storage manager."

While I am a big fan of the Pi and have several projects on the go using it, storage is it's weak point IMHO. I cannot imagine it being even remotely useful as a home NAS. The networking is only 100Mbit, and the only storage it can support is either USB or the onboard SD card slot. USB storage doesn't cut it, and I wouldn't have a NAS without gigabit ethernet. The only use case I could see is a portable NAS/media player combo, which would be nice.

As I said, I love the Pi, but it is not a "one size fits all" solution. Play to it's strengths and it's amazing. Fail to recognise it's weaknesses and you will end up disappointed.

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Re: Raspberry Pi

Well in this case consider that it would be great for someone who already has a NAS and wants to setup an interface with the outside world without touching the NAS setup with new unproven Beta software. I'd consider it since my QNAP NAS is getting on a bit and I'd rather not tinker with it too much.

The Pi could just handle the client only and sit on the normal network between the NAS and the internet. I have a gigbit switch so the addition of the 100Mbit Pi wouldn't slow things down and nothing faster is needed interfacing to the Pi since my internet currently caps at way below this.

As another scenario have the Pi act as a client with those files you want to share on the Pi and the rest on the PC and every now and then do a sync.... the Pi effectively becomes your backup client then and a mini NAS.

I think you're thinking of NAS for movies, especially at 1080p requiring massive storage and high bandwidth but don't forget there are many other uses.

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Re: Raspberry Pi

@TakeTheSkyRoad

Yeah, I take your point. It does have use cases.

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Were they to do this well

It would be great for system admins. Peer to Peer, done well, would be exactly the right technology we need to distribute all the patches, bug fixes, software updates and everything else we need on all those identical workstations around a company's infrastructure. Throttled properly to avoid soaking the network, decent costing etc so that you automatically distribute everything on all the devices with the minimum traffic across the WAN links, and no need to define a local server or device as a distribution point and make sure its turned on all the time.

I looked into this when bit torrent and the like first came in, but the conclusion I came to was that all the peer to peer software was very well adapted to ripping off creators, but pretty much useless when it came to optimising the distribution of legitimate software and data, especially in an ad hoc tiered distribution model. Sadly I lacked the time and skills to rewrite it to be useful.

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Fascinating what people will go through to avoid IPv6

On IPv6 you have normal end to end connectivity, so setting up such a system is as easy as rsync. Plus you are completely independent of external services. (which this proposal is not)

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Re: Fascinating what people will go through to avoid IPv6

" Plus you are completely independent of external services. (which this proposal is not)"

What independent external services (other than the internet) are required then?

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Re: Fascinating what people will go through to avoid IPv6

This is so true it hurts.

The solution to this particular problem has been with us for years.

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better than rsync ?

Not sure this one has that much to do with IPv6, though it will probably also work better over IPv6 once more people have it and those who do don't need to tunnel over IPV4 to get it.

I use rsync for quite a few shares and backups. But there probably are too many options, which means skilled administration skills are required. Then there are the questions of how many crontab entries and little shell scripts you need to keep everything working smoothly, and how to do this between different OSs. Something much easier for end users to administrate and which opportunistically restarts and resyncs when machines are up and networks are available could be more useful to those lacking configuration/administration skills.

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Re: Fascinating what people will go through to avoid IPv6

I don't get this point. Yes, you can set up rsync (in fact you could do so without IPv6, just using port forwarding on your router).

Where I could see this being most useful is for a group of friends. Each agrees to store copies of each others' files. Set up the sync and, as with bittorrent, you don't need to upload the files to every machine, they share the data around. Or as a small business with several offices, the files are synced and upload duty shared around.

Similarly, if you want to share a file with a group, you just add it and let the client do the rest.

Obviously, there would need to be some form of protection if you had sensitive data (I certainly wouldn't trust my friends with some data I hold, just because it is too important to take any risks), but it could basically (like the article states) create a distributed dropbox. Incredibly useful, whether you are on IPv6 or not.

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Marvelous

I've been looking for a solution to this for a while now, effectively using my NAS as a backup target for my parent's PC 500 miles away. Rsync is powerful, but far from a "just works" solution.

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Re: Marvelous

@Annihilator: check out crashplan. I use it to back up my parent's PC's across the miles, about 165 miles away. The software has built-in peer-to-peer backup, as well as cloudy options.

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Decent

This is something I was thinking about a few years back, a distributed zero-knowledge P2P storage network. I was figuring that you would specify how much of other peoples encrypted data to be stored by the service on your machine and in return you get access to that same amount of storage in the mesh. Obviously the maths to my plan doesn't really work out though, as you really want to be storing mulltiple copies of all the data so you need many people to dedicate more space to the service than they're willing to use themselves.

How much space do you get access to with this?

The client for this looks ok as well, not too dumbed down and actually provides you with half-decent information on what's going on and how quickly it's happening. I quite liked the look of SpiderOak for a while but the client was a bit of a mess and I want to be able to specify the exact directories to sync rather than forced into using a pre-set directory.

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Re: Decent

I didn't see anything in the description of BitTorrent Sync to imply that you trade storage with other people, at least not in the sense I think you mean. That sounds more like Freenet.

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Re: Decent

No that's correct. I was just rambling about a system I thought about a few years back. That's why I asked how much storage you actually get access to with this new BitTorrent Sync.

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Re: Decent

The amount of storage you get access to is infinite. It's cool because it's like Dropbox only free with unlimited storage.

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds good on the surface. Too bad we use deep packet inspection to block all P2P traffic on our firewall.

Add a signature or otherwise enable a way for us to use this as a corporate tool. Whatever solution you use, do so without opening our connections to movie down-loaders and I'll sign up.

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Mushroom

Just force encryption on. Then no amount of deep inspection will be able to identify it as P2P...

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