Earlier this year BitTorrent announced their first alpha of BitTorrent Sync. I don’t intend to do a lot of these announcement what some one else has done but this is truly interesting so I had to write about it.
This is not about the technical details of BitTorrent Sync but rather an exited rant about the topic. For more coherent explanation of Sync please refer to the Bittorrent Labs site or the wonderful Security Now -podcast episode 402.
BitTorrent Labs have developed a small application, still in alpha, that enables to sync folders (or directories as I like to call them) across the Internet or just across your own home network.
For some bittorrent might sound like something illegal or seedy but bittorrent is just a technology among any other. It can be used in many ways. Bittorrent has always been the main protocol and application to download various Linux-distribution but it is also used to download content that is not put available with the authors consent. I don’t want to go into these issues any deeper since that is not the point of the post. Sync is the point.
Syncing might sound easy but it is truly a difficult issue. Syncing is a distribution and knowledge issue at it’s heart. Who keeps track of what, what version of the file is the right one, what happens when file is removed, what if there is an conflict, how fast the changes should propagate, how reliable the propagation of changes have to be, do we use distributed knowledge or do we have a central node that tracks the changes and represents the “truth”? This is not even a comprehensive list of questions and challenges that someone creating a syncing protocol or application has to face.
Bittorrent as a protocol has solved many of these issues and it has a very good track-record of actually working reliably as a distributed method of sharing and downloading files. It has always made sense to use it also as a personal syncing tool and it has been used for that.
What makes BitTorrents new project interesting is that it is bringing private syncing over network much more accessible and simple for many people. I don’t say most because BitTorrent has that sinister feel to it that makes many to turn away and run.
So if you are like me and interested on the technical aspects and the usefulness of bittorrent sync have a look at the Sync homepage and the article about bittorrent protocol on Wikipedia.