BitTorrent, Inc. today plans to release a beta version of BitTorrent Sync, software that provides Dropbox-like syncing using the same peer-to-peer file sharing technology that powers BitTorrent clients. Some new features—including "mobile apps and an archive capability for retrieving previous versions of synced files," BitTorrent said—have been added since we went hands-on with the alpha version of the software back in April.
The first mobile app is for Android; an iOS version will follow soon.
The "SyncArchive" feature "is a basic versioning capability introduced with the Beta. It will include a folder where you can see all previous versions of your files," BitTorrent's announcement said. "Unobtrusive and searchable, this feature has been in high demand and will evolve over time."
The beta version of BitTorrent Sync is expected to go live at noon Eastern time and will be available for download here. There are various bug fixes, and the beta software should be more stable than the alpha version. There's no word yet on when the software will be robust enough to drop the "beta" label.
The software adds a sync folder to your devices just as services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive do. But instead of signing into a cloud service, Sync uses randomly generated or user-chosen 21-byte keys to sync folders across computers and mobile devices. One-way synchronization and one-time secrets for sharing files are supported.
The service is free and has no limits on file size.
"Because BitTorrent Sync is based on the principles of the BitTorrent protocol, you can sync as many big files as you want," the company said. "Transfers are encrypted, and information isn’t stored on a server in the cloud; data is protected by encrypted keys. Data is never passed through a stranger's computer or is stored on a server. Your files belong to you, and stay on the devices."
Besides Android, Sync has versions for Windows, Mac, Linux, and FreeBSD. BitTorrent Sync can also run on Linux-based Network Attached Storage devices.
Since the alpha launch in April, the software has been used to sync more than 8PB of data, BitTorrent said. "While we have general statistics about the BitTorrent Sync app, we don’t have any access to private information," the company wrote, by way of reassuring people that their data is safe. "The client reports back anonymous usage statistics to check if there’s a new build available and to help improve the app."
BitTorrent also made its pitch that Sync is the software to use for privacy-conscious individuals. "With all of the NSA and PRISM developments of late, consumers are more keenly aware of online privacy and digital security issues," the company said. "As BitTorrent Sync doesn’t rely on servers, your data is never exposed to prying eyes… Likewise, Sync is built in such a way that the product will never shut down. The software will be as usable (and free) in the future as it is today. The user is always in control of their own data."
If you're looking for a weekend project, you might want to check out this May blog post from BitTorrent Digital Creative Manager Dan Brown. Brown describes how he used a Raspberry Pi, BitTorrent Sync, and OwnCloud to create his own "personal cloud."
"I’ve been using BitTorrent Sync for syncing several gigabytes of RAW photos and video across my various machines," Brown wrote. "There is the occasional scenario, however, where I’ve wanted to grab a few files, but my other machine is turned off. To solve this problem, I’m using a Raspberry Pi as a low power, always-on device with Sync installed. Just for kicks, I’m also using Owncloud (open source) to provide me with a web interface for accessing my files from any computer, including my mobile phone."