While hunting around for a very good way to move around gigabytes of data on multiple devices for the purpose of backup and just to have multiple copies on hand at all times, I came across an interesting piece of software for doing just that. The program is from BitTorrent Labs and its called BitTorrent Sync.
When we think of BitTorrent, we immediately think of all those non-legal software, music and movies that’s scattered all over that you can freely access. Well you’ll be pleased to know that BitTorrent Sync allows you to set up your very own personal “torrent” network that lets you sync your files between multiple computers across multiple OS platforms. It uses the same peer-to-peer (p2p) distributed technology used by many of the other file sharing networks.
The BitTorrent Sync file is a mere 600KB, and downloads in seconds and the installation process is very quick. You will need to install the program on the devices you wish to be part of your personal “torrent” network. To make sure your data is secure during transmission, and to make sure that only the devices you wish to communicate in your own personal “torrent” network, you are required to create a secret code.
During the installation you will be asked to either do a Standard Setup or enter a secret code (I have a secret). On the first computer in your personal “torrent” network, you can choose Standard Setup, at which point a secret code will be automatically generated for you (32 characters). The generated code is a unique random code that functions like a key that connects multiple devices into one sync network. If you are joining an existing personal “torrent” network, then you would enter the already generated key (which you would have gotten at the first setup). Note that you can create your very own secret code, by simply entering it into the I have a secret field.
Once you’ve chosen your setup type (I chose standard for this setup), you will then be required to select the directory(ies) you wish to have synced. This can be any folder that’s connected to the device you just installed the BitTorrent Sync on.
Once you have selected the folder, you will be presented with the generated secret code (if you selected standard). Make a note of this key, as you will need to enter it into the other computer to make them a part of your secure personal “torrent” network
Once you have the key copied into memory, you can move on. That’s it. You have completed set up of the first device in your personal “torrent” network, and you just need to go to the next device and repeat the process, only this time you would enter the key to make that device part of the personal “torrent” network.
Once you have all your devices setup in your personal “torrent” network, you will see a full list of those devices and they will begin synchronizing. You can also see a full list of devices from the device tab of the program, as well as add other folders for synchronization.
Now that you have your personal “torrent” network up and running, you want to make sure that the network is secure. So if this program is using p2p like all the other file-sharing networks, how can you be sure that other devices won’t be able to get access to your personal “torrent” network and steal your files? Well, I can’t say for certain that it won’t happen, but I can say that your first line of protection is the secret code that was either randomly generated by the system or created by you.
Second, you can see a list of all the devices within your personal “torrent” network from the devices tab of the application. This will be an easy way to spot an unknown device. Third, the program uses a 256-bit, AES encryption key, based on the secret code, to accept membership to the personal “torrent” network and to transfer data within that network.
I’ve tested this program for about a week and it seems to be working great. There is no limit on the amount of data that you can transfer. The memory footprint is also very small, making it quite fine to leave running all the time. There is a lot more that can be done using this program, so check it out and see if you can fit it into your data transfer requirements. The program runs on Windows, Macintosh and Linux.