[Windows] Share files securely without using cloud storage with BitTorrent Sync [Mac OS X, Android, iOS]August 29, 2013 7 Email article | Print article
There are many different ways to share and transfer files between multiple computers and users. You can always use the integrated sharing features with Windows, or you can use a superior third party tool, for sharing over local LAN computers. Then there’s always cloud storage services which allow you to share files with other users and computers using an internet connection. The catch to cloud storage is you need to upload files and content to the cloud, which is something many people are not comfortable doing — especially when it comes to personal content.
BitTorrent Sync is a unique application that allows you to share files between computers and users over a LAN or internet connection using torrents and peer-to-peer technology… meaning you don’t have to use cloud storage to share files with other users and computers.
What is it and what does it do
BitTorrent Sync works just like any other torrent application except you’re sharing personal files with yourself or others, instead of downloading content from the internet. The big difference between BitTorrent Sync and cloud storage services is that no files or content are stored on a server or in the cloud with BitTorrent Sync; BitTorrent Sync uses peer-to-peer technology to allow you to transfer/share files between computers. When pulling content with the app it uses a direct connection between connected computers, and no third party services are involved in any way.
Take note BitTorrent Sync has programs/apps on Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS. We specifically reviewed the Windows version.
- Share files between users, computers, and devices securely and privately
- You can do one-time file transfer/share and is able to automatically sync files, downloading updated versions as necessary
- Folders are protected by 20 bit “secrets” or encryption keys
- You can share an unlimited number of files and directories of any size, even large files work. There is no data limit.
- Connecting devices is quick, easy and extremely efficient
- The application only uses about 11MB of RAM, so it’s relatively lightweight
- Content is not stored on a remote server or in the cloud, it remains solely on the host and client computers and is transferred via a direct peer-to-peer connection
- Mobile devices can be connected through a QR code
- In order to access the shared files the host computer must remain connected to the LAN or internet at all times, otherwise file transfer/sharing may fail. You, can, of course, only connect your computer for a temporary amount of time if you want to do a temporary transfer and don’t need regular access to the files in question. It is just like torrenting, except you are torrenting from yourself.
- File transfer speeds can be a bit slower than cloud storage services, as it depends on your internet connection or network
I’m constantly looking for new software to share files between my various computers. One of the main reasons is because I’m constantly fixing computers for family and friends, and it requires downloading and installing various applications. I’m interested in keeping all of my software and files on a single computer, that can transfer said content to various machines when necessary. Better yet, I’d like to be able to connect to my host computer from anywhere and pull those files.
BitTorrent Sync uses a direct connection between computers to transfer files. The content is protected and secure thanks to the use of private encryption keys. Even better, the platform has been designed specifically to serve and share very large files. That’s one of the biggest issues with most cloud storage and sharing services, is that you have a file size limit. You can synchronize an unlimited number of folders or directories, of varying sizes ranging from large to small.
That being said, there are three different types of “secrets” or keys. A master secret offers full access, and a read only secret does as you’d expect. There are also one-time secrets for full access or read only access which restricts access to a single download. When first installing the application you have the option to enter a secret, so it’s a streamlined setup if you already have one available.
Essentially, it works just like this. You install the BitTorrent Sync on all of the computers you’d like to share files to and from. Then you add a folder or directory to share, and create a “secret” for it, which serves as an encryption key or password. The code is produced at random, and is different every time you create a new one (obviously). Then, on the receiving device(s) you choose the folder that you added, and enter the “secret”. The application will automatically synchronize content stored in that folder across all machines. Of course, in order to work properly the affected computers need to remain connected to the internet.
The UI is very easy to navigate and understand, even the most casual users would have no issues setting up folders to synch. Any folders added to the application from the host computer will synch automatically with connected machines. That means any and all files included in the affected directory are shared. If you don’t want a particular file shared, you just leave it out of the shared directory- simple as that.
The only people that can access your files and content are the ones that have the “secret”. That means you don’t have to worry about any external intruders or third parties accessing your data. It’s pretty secure too considering each “secret” is 20 bytes long and randomly generated.
BitTorrent Sync uses about 11MB of RAM while running so it’s relatively light on system resources. From my experience, I did not notice a change in the memory usage even when files were being transferred.
Conclusion and download link
BitTorrent Sync is a file transfer tool that allows you to share or synchronize files between multiple computers and mobile devices. File transfer is secure and content is not stored in the cloud. Plus it is easy to use — it is pretty much like torrenting, with minimal extra steps — and has the ability to sync files between computers and devices. It uses only 11MB of RAM while running even when transferring files, so it’s pretty lightweight too.
Do take note the host machine must remain connected to the internet or LAN network at all times when you want to share/transfer files, but you can disconnect the computer when you don’t want to share/transfer files.
If you’re looking for a secure file transfer/sharing tool without the need to store files and data in the cloud, BitTorrent Sync is definitely a must try.
Version reviewed: 126.96.36.199 (Windows)
Supported OS: Windows 8/7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X 10.6+, Android, iOS 5.0+
Download size: 1.41MB (Windows)
VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/46 (Windows)
Is it portable? No