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Bitcasa

Court stops Bitcasa from deleting your cloud storage files

technologyEdward Kiledjian1 Comment
Image by  Emil Indricău  used under Creative Commons License

Image by Emil Indricău used under Creative Commons License

Bitcasa was a digital fairy tale story. when most cloud providers were charging $10 a month for 100 GB of storage, Bitcasa shook up the model by offering unlimited online cloud storage for on $99 a year (early subscribers were offered a $79 deal). 

They explained that this "magic" was possible because of their deep-deduplication technology which worked even though they claim all data is encrypted before being uploaded. 

Fast forward to 2014 and the company made enemies when it announced the end of its unlimited storage plans forcing customers to move to a more expensive (less storage) solution or lose their files. This was doubly troubling since their initial pitch was to use their service to offload files from your computer to free up space. This means many users likely don't have local backup copies of their data.

Some very angry customers have filed a class action lawsuit against Bitcasa for alleged brief of contract. The court hearing the case has granted a temporary restraining order forcing the double crossing cloud provider to save all customer files at least until November 20. 

Funny enough, on November 15th, I received this email from Bitcasa

The above email makes it seem they extended the deadline out of the goodness of their hearts. You judge if this is above the board business practice

 

Source: 1, 2, 3

Don't buy a Bitcasa subscription

technologyEdward Kiledjian5 Comments

A question I receive regularly from readers is regarding the value of the Bitcasa service.

I was an early Bitcasa beta tester and have been working with their service for a long time now. I actually bought into their service when they still offered unlimited cloud storage for $99 a year. At the time, I could not believe the incredible value they were offering but like everything else in life "if something is too good to be true, it probably is".

The client

I performed a long term test on both Windows and Mac. I hate hate hate their client. It is clunky, buggy and fixes come in a very slow trickle. As an example, the ability to mirror a folder by right clicking in the Mac Finder is broken and there is no ETA to fix it. Early in the service's life, I was able to mirror external drives and that functionality went away. I have 30Mbps down and 10Mbps up connection speed and everything transfers super fast to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, etc. Not so with Bitcasa. Even with an idle computer, it sometimes takes hours to upload 5-10 MB. 

I have the same speed issue with the mobile client (Android and IOS). I open a folder containing pictures and it takes forever for the app to download the thumbnails. Google Plus Photos and Carousel (Dropbox) on the same devices are almost instant.

The speed

The service is slow. Painfully slow and you will notice it. I'm not sure why but it just makes for a horrible client experience. Web interface is slow, mobile clients are slow and their desktop clients are slow.

Price

At $99 a year for unlimited storage, you could easily accept many of the shortcomings but the new pricing (for new customers) is $99 a year for 1TB. At that price, I say go with Google Drive's 1TB plan for $9 a month. Much faster and they will autoAwesome your images.

Verdict

I really had high hopes for Bitcasa. I thought it would be the crazy one that shook up the entire cloud storage market but instead it has turned (in my humble opinion) to be a dud. My only recommendation is look elsewhere. Options are Google Drive (good speed and pricing), Bitcasa Sync (your own sync service run from your house), or something like The Transporter (again a private sync service based on your home equipment).

Buy a Samsung Galaxy S5 and get $500 of gifts

technologyEdward KiledjianComment
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Maybe the shiny new Samsung Galaxy S5 and its boatload of features wasn't enough to entice you to fork over your hard earned money. Samsung has sweetened the pot with $500 (link) of extra premium services and apps.

Of the apps listed, the ones I think are the most interesting:

  • 1 year of premium RunKeeper
  • 6 months of premium MapMyFitness
  • 6 months of Wall Street Journal
  • 1 year of the Bloomberg BusinessWeek
  • 3 months of premium LinkedIn
  • 3 months of premium Bitcasa cloud storage
  • 3 months of premium Evernote
  • and more

I would have loved 1 year or Evernote and Bitcasa but this still isn't too shabby 

Microsoft SkyDrive to become OneDrive

technologyEdward KiledjianComment
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British Sky Broadcasting Group won a court battle with Microsoft last year and the settlement included an undisclosed amount of compensation and Microsoft agreed to change the name of its infringing SkyDrive product.

Now Microsoft has announced that Skydrive will be rebranded to OneDrive (link). They are promising that OneDrive is everything Skydrive is and more. What the more means is anyone's guess and Skydrive hasn't been the most popular consumer online cloud storage service. 

No date of when the new service will go live but you can give them your email address and they will let you know.

BitTorrent Sync is my favorite sync tool

technologyEdward Kiledjian2 Comments
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If I told you I am using BitTorrent, you would probably assume I am downloading pirated illegal content but your would be wrong. I have been testing BitTorrent Sync as an alternative to Dropbox and am really liking it. 

BitTorrent sync leverages all the power of its world renown bittorrent protocol to quickly sync files of any size between your devices without first uploading them to a central cloud service making this very attractive to security conscious IT users. 

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You install a small app for your device (Windows, Mac, Android or IOS) and then choose a folder you would like to sync. The app then gives you a secret key (2 actually: one for read/write and the other is read only).

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You can also create a one time secret key (good for 24 hours). 

You then install BitTorrent Sync on the second device (anywhere as long as it is internet connected), you enter the secret key, Choose the destination folder and the rest is automatic.

Synchronization is done device to device over a secure and protected channel. Because the transfer is done over the robust and tested BitTorrent protocol, it can handle insanely large files quickly and reliably.

"All the traffic between devices is encrypted with AES cypher and a 256-bit key created on the base of the secret—a random string (20 bytes or more) that is unique for every folder." - BitTorrent

The use of the BitTorrent protocol also means that it will work through most security devices automatically.

Mobile to Mobile Sync

I can also share files from a mobile device to another mobile device very easily. I open the mobile app, and go to the Send Files  tab, Choose the files and it generates a QR code. You can the QR code with the other device and voila, the files transfer like magic. No bumping, shacking or emailing.

The limitations:

  • The one major limitation right now (keep in mind it is beta) is that it does not support corporate proxy servers but the company assures me this is coming
  • If you choose a 2 ways sync, any change on either side syncs to the other device. If both people change the same file at the same time, the last one to save takes precedent and overwrites the other devices file (not a collaboration tool where multiple people can work on the same file).It is important to note that BitTorrent sync supports versioning and keeps all file changes for 30 days in a hidden folder). 

Is BitTorrent Sync worth it?

BitTorrent Sync is a product I would pay money for but is free. BitTorrent says they will launch a premium version later with additional value add options for companies (leaving the current version free for consumers).

So far it has successfully worked every time (even when I threw a 800GB folder at it with a 500MB file). 

Comparing BitTorrent Sync to Dropbox

BitTorrent Sync is better and worse than Dropbox.

It is better than Dropbox because

  • your files are never stores on someone else's servers (more secure and no transfer limits)
  • files of any size can be synchronized
  • files are synchronized quickly and easily
  • it's free

It is worse than Dropbox because

  • every computer needs the BitTorrent client installed (Dropbox offers a web interface)

BitTorrent Sync