BitTorrent Talks Encryption, Improved Linux Support For Sync 2.3

Subject: General Tech | February 2, 2016 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: file syncing, encryption, bittorrent sync, bittorrent

BitTorrent continues to support its file sharing and syncing application with the recent release of Sync 2.3.1. The 2.3.x update contains a number of bug fixes for stability, but the important news is the added support for encrypted folders and finally allowing selective file syncing on Linux systems. Additionally, the company put out a short brief on the information they collect and how they are securing your files synced by Sync which is available as a PDF.

BitTorrent Sync 2_3 Encrypted Folders.png

Sync 2.3 allows Windows users to run Sync as a service and Android users can move data to and from an SD card from within the app so long as they are running at least Android 5.0 or newer. Linux users also get a bit of love with support for selective file syncing (where you can choose which specific files to download locally and which to keep on the remote peers) though it appears that BitTorrent has limited this feature to its paid Sync Pro tier which is in line with other platforms. According to BitTorrent Inc. among the performance and bug fixes, the biggest UI change is a redesigned process for adding new folders.

On the security and privacy front, BitTorrent claims that it employs several security measures to keep your data safe. First though, the company allegedly only collects benign data including the program version, add folder errors, the amount of data transferred (directly and via relay server), number of peers, and share link and tracker statistics as well as few more things you can see in the brief linked above. All the data that they collect is reportedly sent in the clear so that users can verify what they are collecting on them.

To secure your files, BitTorrent uses SSL and AES-128 encryption to transfer files. In the case of Advanced folders, it generates a X.509 certificate (each folder is given it's own certificate) using a certificate authority and then uses a certificate chain to control user access and file modification permissions as well as a mechanism to revoke access. In the case of encrypted folders, Sync generates storage and session keys with the session keys complying with perfect forwards secrecy standards such that future session keys being cracked does not compromise past sessions. When using the encrypted folders option (which is useful when using a VPS as an off-site backup or to any machine that you do not fully own and control for that matter), data from your local machines is encrypted before being sent to the remote machine using AES 128 bit encryption (I wish they had gone with at least AES-256, but it's something). The data is then sent over SSL. Thus, the data on the remote machine is never in an unencrypted state which is a good thing for having a secure off-site backup. The encrypted folder can still be used as part of the mesh to speed up syncing among your machines, as well, while remaining secure.

I think the encrypted folders are a good addition to Sync, though the encryption bit-ness could be improved (a weak VPS' processor doesn't need to decrypt the data anyway so CPU time needed for the beefier algorithm should not matter...). In past coverage users have mentioned issues when syncing folders that they encrypted themselves before adding to Sync where the data could get corrupted when the peers became confused on changes made and what to sync. Hopefully this will help avoid that though they do still need to work on fixing user chosen pre-sync encryption. I am still using Sync to backup my photos and sync documents between my laptop and desktop and it works well for that sans the storage limits imposed by One Drive (and the uncertainty of my once-promised 25GB of free storage).

What do you think of the changes, and is their security good enough?

Source: BitTorrent

BitTorrent Sync 2.2 Introduces New Pricing Model, Bugfixes, and Performance Improvements

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2015 - 02:28 AM |
Tagged: bittorrent, bittorrent sync, file sharing, backup files, file sync

BitTorrent, Inc. recently released a new version of its Sync application, Sync 2.2.1. This latest build introduces a new paid pricing model that is much more favorable towards personal users (more akin to the original alpha and beta versions), implements several bugfixes, and contains performance improvements over previous builds.

According to the developers, the pricing model changes in Sync 2.2+ are the result of user feedback on their forums, user surveys, and suggestions made via email and other channels. Sync will maintain the free and Pro tiers, but personal users will be getting more value. The biggest change for free users is the removal of the 10 folder limit – free licenses can create and access as many folders as they need. Sync Pro can be purchased for personal or business use. Personal use Pro licenses will no longer have access to Priority Support however it is a one time charge and there is no longer an annual subscription required. Business licenses for Sync Pro will continue to be based on an annual subscription and will retain access to Priority Support.

BitTorrent Sync 2_2_1.jpg

Only minor UI changes in the new build. Sync All has been renamed to Selective Sync and there are more buttons along the top bar, but otherwise it appears very similar to what you'd expect.

Of course, existing users can choose to keep their existing subscription(s) or switch to the new pricing model. More information on how to do that can be found in this FAQ. A detailed list of bugfixes and changes can be found here. Free users will notice that you can now see all of your connected devices. Users will also be able to see a list of locked files on a per-user basis now as well.

Sync Pro is now available for personal use for $39.99 and for business use at $39.99 per year per seat (up to 50 users). BitTorrent is offering a 25% discount until September 22, 2015 using the promo code 2.2launch.

I have been using Sync since the alpha builds, and it has been dutifully backing up all of my photos from my smartphone as well as periodically being used to sync files between my desktop and laptop. The free version has gotten a fair number of feature improvements along the way. So far, I have not felt the need to pay for the Pro version, but the removal of the yearly subscription requirement makes me much more inclined to check it out. The removal of the 10 folder limit for free users is huge though, as that artificial restriction likely turned off many users from trying out Sync. I am happy to see BitTorrent responding to user feedback.

See more BitTorrent Sync coverage at PC Perspective.

BitTorrent Sync 2.0 Available Now For PC, NAS, and Mobile With Pro Version For $39.95/year

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2015 - 02:29 AM |
Tagged: sync 2.0, folder sync, file sharing, bittorrent sync, bittorrent, backup

BitTorrent Sync has officially taken the beta tag off and launched Sync 2.0. Sync 2.0 is the latest iteration of the company’s file and folder synchronization application. It uses certificate-based security and the torrent protocol to securely share files an folders with no file size or transfer limits. Sync 2.0 is available for PCs as well as NAS and mobile devices and it can be used to roll your own cloud storage.

Sync 2.0 Main.png

Sync 2.0 contains numerous bug fixes and three major new features over Sync 1.4 (which I detailed here and includes selective sync, ownership and permission controls, and private identities). Additionally, the question of how BitTorrent will monetize Sync has been answered with the introduction of a paid Sync Pro subscription service that grants access to all the new Sync features.

BitTorrent continues to offer a free version that Sync 1.4.3 users can upgrade to in order to take advantage of the bug fixes with one big caveat. The free version of Sync 2.0 is limited to synchronizing 10 folders (no file/folder size or transfer limits). This is a irksome step backwards from the previous version that in my opinion is unwarranted (Sync Pro unlocks a slew of useful features), but apparently BitTorrent believes it needs to do this to encourage enough people to ante up for the paid version to support the project.

Users can download Sync 2.0 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Free BSD from GetSync.com while mobile users can pick the Sync app up from their app store of choice (it should be live today). BitTorrent now supports Sync on Network Attached Storage devices from Asustor, Drobo, Netgear, Overland SnapServer, QNAP, Seagate, and Synology. You can grab the appropriate NAS build from this page.

Downloads of Sync 2.0 include a 30-day trial of Sync Pro. Sync Pro will cost $39.95 per user per year (on unlimited devices) with volume licensing available for large organizations and teams.

I have been using Sync since the original alpha and have found it to be invaluable in keeping all my files in sync and my smartphone pictures backed up (especially with the number of times my S5 has needed replacing heh). I am still deciding whether or not I will purchase the yearly Pro subscription (The 10 folder limit does not affect me (yet anyway)), but the new features are compelling as the linked devices and selective sync would be welcome. The ownership and permissions stuff is great for collaboration and sharing with others, but that’s not something I’m using it for right now.

What are your thoughts on Sync 2.0 and the new subscription model? Now that I am allowed to talk about it, do you have any questions?

Source: BitTorrent

New BitTorrent Sync Beta Build Allows Updates From Sync 1.4

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2015 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: folder sync, file syncing, bittorrent sync, bittorrent, backup

The team at BitTorrent Labs has released a new Sync beta build that incorporates all of the planned Sync Pro features and allows users to update from the stable Sync 1.4 build while importing all of their folders. The latest build, version 2.0.51, is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs as well as Android (Sync 2.0.34) and Kindle Fire mobile devices. Users can grab the download from this Sync forum thread.

Sync 2.0.51 was deployed to test the upgrade and folder import path from 1.4. Unfortunately, the new build is not compatible with any previous Sync 2.0 (alpha) builds so users that are already testing will have to start from scratch whereas if you are just now jumping in as a tester you can keep your folders set up as is.

The latest Sync beta turns on all of the Sync Pro features (image from Sync blog).

I was able to successfully update to the new build on my main PC and Android smartphone. Unfortunately, I can not go into many details regarding my experience as testers have been asked to not talk publicly about the builds until further along in development. You are welcome to try it out for yourself though.

Sync 1.4 (left) users can upgrade to the new Sync 2.0.51 beta (right) and import their folders.

The public forum thread does mention that the new build includes a trial of Sync Pro features including a private identity that allows you to easily link all of your devices together and a selective syncronization feature that uses placeholder files and allows you to choose which files you want to download for offline access on a per device basis (a feature that caused controversy for Microsoft over OneDrive removing placeholder files in Windows 10). A new permissions engine is also in effect and you are able to change permissions after the fact now without generating a new link.

In all, Sync is still in development and they have some neat features in the works that will make it more competitive with other file syncing services.

If you are interested in following the development progress or testing it yourself, you can sign up for the mailing list and follow the various forum threads on the BitTorrent website.

Source: BitTorrent

BitTorrent Labs Working On New Versions of Sync

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2014 - 02:03 AM |
Tagged: file sync, folder sync, bittorrent sync

BitTorrent Sync is an immensely useful application that uses the torrent protocol to securely synchronize files across PCs and mobile devices. The program has been in the “beta” stage for awhile now, but BitTorrent Labs is preparing to drop the “beta” tag with the introduction of Sync 2.0 as well as a new paid-for premium version dubbed Sync Pro.

BitTorrent Sync 2.png

BitTorrent Labs will be spinning Sync off into three main products, Sync 2.0, an enterprise file replication program, and a cross platform mobile-to-mobile file transfer app.

According to the developers, Sync’s capabilities have rapidly expanded beyond simple file transfer. Sync 2.0 will continue in the same vein as the current application, adding new functionality on top of the existing free Sync 1.4 code base. Sync Pro will be a paid for version that will unlock additional features including selective file sync (a feature that Microsoft is planning to remove from OneDrive), granular ownership and file permissions (along with revocation) for shared folders, and synchronization between desktop and mobile governed by new private identities that will associate all of your devices and simplify syncing.

BitTorrent Sync Pro File Ownership.png

Sync Pro will allow more granular control over file ownership along with selective file sync.

The free version of Sync (Sync 2.0) will retain all of the functionality of the current version with some improvements and bug fixes. From there, users will be able to upgrade to Sync Pro for $39.99 per user, per year. Users will create an identity that will allow Sync Pro to be activated on all of their devices and will associate all of their devices (from which users can direct which files/folders should be synced to each device). BitTorrent Labs claims the identities are offline and private though they did not provide specifics on payment options and related privacy implications of the new premium license model and identity system.

Sync File Replication is a niche tool aimed at IT administrators that will allow business users to replicate out files and folders across thousands of devices and monitor and manage all of the associated sync operations. The program uses the Sync engine but is tooled to scale to hundreds or thousands of devices. The developers claims to have achieved a full synchronization to 1,000 PCs in under one minute in their test environment.

Additionally, BitTorrent Labs is bringing back the mobile-to-mobile file transfer feature that some may remember from earlier versions of the Sync app for mobile devices. The new Sync Mobile Large File Transfer application is being spun off into its own, separate, mobile app. It will be cross platform (iOS, Android, et al) and will  allow users to send and receive files without including a PC in the sync group.

The introduction of a paid version is a new, but not suprising twist considering its popularity and usefulness. The talk of Sync going open source appears to be merely talk, however as BitTorrent Labs looks to profit off Sync (they could still go with a licensed open source model but I feel like if they were going to do that, it would have been one of the touted features and new directions for Sync 2.0). I would have liked to see Sync go open source (if only for a full security audit) but even closed source I will likely continue using it as it is a useful and easy to use program. 

You can sign up for more information on Sync 2.0 (and when it will be available for download) on this web page. Further, this forum thread provides some much needed clarifications to their previous announcement.

Source: BitTorrent

BitTorrent Sync; faster than OneDrive, Dropbox and Drive?

Subject: General Tech | October 23, 2014 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: bittorrent sync, cloud, dropbox, onedrive, google drive

BitTorrent is good for more than just downloading files of various natures, it has a tool called Sync which performs a similar task to solutions like Dropbox only more privately and apparently with more speed.  From the graph below you can see that in at least one scenario BitTorrent Sync is significantly faster than other solutions when it is allowed free reign on your connection, you can limit the speed in the settings if time is not of the essence.  What is also very important to note is that this is purely an encrypted client to client transfer, your files are never cached on a server for posterity or for 'quality assurance' as they are when you use the competitions software.  That does mean both devices need to be powered on and on the network for this to work but for many the privacy would be worth the slightly less flexible operation.  Check it out on Slashdot.

101414-speed-test.png

"Now that its file synchronization tool has received a few updates, BitTorrent is going on the offensive against cloud-based storage services by showing off just how fast BitTorrent Sync can be. More specifically, the company conducted a test that shows Sync destroys Google Drive, Microsoft's OneDrive, and Dropbox. The company transferred a 1.36 GB MP4 video clip between two Apple MacBook Pros using two Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapters, the Time.gov site as a real-time clock, and the Internet connection at its headquarters (1 Gbps up/down)."

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Source: Slashdot