Theoretically infinite storage
Fast Download and Sync
Secure Server-Side Encryption
Backing up files to the cloud
Windows and Mac clients
More confusing use than competitors
Bitkas - this is more than just an application. There is a whole service that manages your files in the cloud.
If your computer runs out of space, or if you are worried about losing important files, Bitcasa will help you in both situations. Bitcasa is a service that can sync your files , back up your files and make your folders "endless".
The way Bitcasa makes your folders and storage endless is storing all your files in their cloud. Nothing will be saved on your local computer, relying on an internet connection to access your files . This is the biggest disclaimer about Bitcasa, which is that you must have a high-speed Internet connection to access your files.
Fortunately, Bitcasa also syncs your files if you don't want to rely on an Internet connection to access your files. By synchronizing your files, Bitcasa ensures that the most recent changes to your files are saved on all your computers. you also You can work with your files offline, and synchronization will take place after connecting to the Internet.
For paranoids, Bitcasa uses on its servers AES-256 bit encryption, therefore, your files are well protected from hackers and prying eyes. For those unfamiliar with encryption algorithms, you can be sure that the AES-256 is very secure.
When used, Bitcasa works well and has pretty fast performance . This can be a bit confusing trying to access your endless folders first, but as soon as you see how everything can be accessed through the Bitcasa application on each of your computers, you will soon forget about space management in general.
Bitcasa is still a relatively new service, so there is no cost so far. In the end, Bitcasa may charge monthly fee for endless storage . This will be useful for those who want to simplify file management and at the same time want to save important files.
⇡ # What is unique?
Bitcasa was founded last year by former employees of Mastercard, VeriSign, Classmates.com and Mozy. This means that the creators of the service are familiar with the solutions for backing up data online, as well as with tools that ensure the security of user files. The idea of the service is to provide everyone with unlimited space for cloud storage. The creators themselves formulated the mission of Bitcasa as follows: "Users can view all their photos, listen to music collections, store all their important files, and each will have room to download the contents of the entire Library of Congress." Access to data stored on the server is not carried out using traditional downloads, but using streaming, which speeds up the receipt of the necessary files.
The first question that arises when you read about unlimited storage: “How is this even possible?” It is all about the special patented data deduplication algorithms, as well as the data compression technologies used by the service (Bitcasa already owns twenty patents!). According to the executive director of the service, sixty percent of user data is identical and each has no more than 25 GB of unique data. Thus, if you store only one compressed file on the remote server instead of thousands of copies, you can significantly reduce costs.
You can verify the effectiveness of this approach from the very first minutes of using the service. If you take two folders of approximately the same size, one of which contains audio files, and the other contains family photos, and upload them to Bitcasa, you will notice that the music folder loads much faster. The same thing happens with movies and other content that someone most likely has already uploaded to the server before you.
⇡ # Security Considerations
What about security? Bitcasa performs encryption on the user side, and all data is transmitted to the "cloud" already in encrypted form. According to the creators, none of the company's employees can access user data. If the user forgets the password for his account, then there is the possibility to reset it by correctly answering the two secret questions chosen during registration.
Here, an inquisitive reader will inevitably think: how can user-side encryption coexist with the data deduplication algorithm? That is, if two users uploaded the same encrypted file to the Bitcasa server, how can you determine if the files are the same without a key? The thing is that the service uses convergent encryption, which is a patented technology.
Its essence is as follows: if two or more encrypted objects are identical, then even when using different encryption keys, you do not need to have access to any of the keys to determine that the encrypted objects are the same. If two or more encrypted objects are the same, but encrypted using different keys, then there is enough space to store all such objects, which is needed to store one of the identical objects and keys for decrypting each of them. Interestingly, the creators of Bitcasa are not inventors of convergent encryption, they just used this technology.
Thus, employees of the company really cannot access user files. However, how secure is this encryption method? At first glance, it is more vulnerable than ordinary ones. Theoretically, a person who has access to the source file and to the server on which information about other copies is stored can identify users who also have this file. In addition, knowing the partial contents of a file, it is theoretically much easier to access the encryption key. The result of such an attack may be unauthorized decryption of data.
⇡ # First impressions of work
So far, Bitcasa is in the closed testing phase. Everyone can apply for participation in testing on the project website. In addition, everyone who has already received an application has a limited number of invitations that can be shared with friends. At the testing stage, the service is completely free, and later, recall, it is planned that it will cost $ 10 per month. Perhaps there will be a free tariff plan with some restrictions.
From the very beginning, Bitcasa has been focused on cross-platform. Clients for Mac and Windows are currently available (so far only the alpha version), and a release for Linux is also expected in the near future. There is no doubt that mobile applications for different platforms will appear a bit later.
Bitcasa makes it possible to upload only folders or entire disks to the server (or, using internal terminology, cloudify - “cloud”). Downloading individual files is not supported. It is difficult to say whether this is a limitation of the test version or is it intended (why spray on files if you can upload the entire hard drive?). To load a folder, just drag it into the application window or select the appropriate command in the context menu.
The download will immediately begin, and its progress can be observed in real time. At any time, it can be interrupted or completely stopped.
When the folder renders on the server, the local directory is automatically renamed - the prefix .original is added to the original name. A hard link is created next to the Bitcasa server with the name of the source folder.
When accessing this folder, the list of files is downloaded from the server. The same thing happens when you try to run - the file is downloaded from the "cloud" and opened. In order to transfer data faster, you can increase the size of the cache allocated by Bitcasa for your needs in the client’s settings.
Of course, it may be surprising that the file is loaded from the server, while a copy of it is still stored on the hard disk in the next folder, but let's not forget that the main idea of Bitcasa is to transfer all the data to the "cloud". It is said that in the final version of the service, the source folders will be deleted from the hard drive altogether as soon as the download is completed. However, we hope that the settings of the program will provide for disabling this feature for those who are not yet ready to completely "cloud".
Despite the fact that the client for Windows so far exists only in the alpha version, synchronization between several computers works. True, the creators of Bitcasa have yet to work on this feature. If two computers are running at the same time, on each of which the Bitcasa client is installed, and data is being loaded on one computer, new folders in the program on the second PC are not displayed. In order to see them, you need to restart the client. Access to files downloaded to the server from another computer is very simple: you just need to click on the folder in the Bitcasa window. After that, "Explorer" opens with a list of files received from the server.
Bitcasa has already implemented the ability to exchange data with other people. True, in order to access the sent files, you must have an account on the service. In other words, sharing is only possible between Bitcasa users. Everything works simply: you need to select a folder in the client window, click the Send This button, get a unique link to the folder and send it to friends.
Those, in turn, should simply drag the folder shortcut to their client.
Despite the fact that Bitcasa does not yet have mobile applications, it is already possible to access data from a smartphone. To do this, just go to portal.bitcasa.com in a mobile browser and enter your account information. Web access to data, of course, is possible from any desktop computer. Through the web interface, you can view a list of all files stored on the server and download them.
In the future, the creators of the service plan to implement the conversion of video files "on the fly" so that the files stored in the "cloud" can be easily viewed on any device.
⇡ # Conclusion
Not all of us are now ready to remove files from hard drives and upload them to Bitcasa. But the idea behind the service is certainly revolutionary, and it is unlikely that anyone will argue that this is part of our future. Will it be connected specifically with Bitcasa or will there be other options for storing huge amounts of data in the "cloud" - this is the second question, for which there is no answer yet.