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Reviewing Bitcasa, the infinite cloud storage solution

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 15 Jan 2012 22:01 User comments (19)

Reviewing Bitcasa, the infinite cloud storage solution

What is Bitcasa?

Bitcasa is a start-up begun by former execs at Mastercard, VeriSign and Mozy and is the latest entrant to the cloud storage market.

What makes Bitcasa different is that the service offers you truly infinite storage, all for just $10 per month. In fact, when you add your first folder, you are told that you have over 500TB of remaining free space, and the start-up says that number is only there because Windows and Mac machines cannot display higher numbers.


How does Bitcasa offer unlimited storage?



The company's CEO says it can offer unlimited storage, "because 60 percent of their data is identical." Simply, when you "cloudify" a music track or movie, the chances are someone else has the same exact track or movie on their computer.

Bitcasa uses "patented de-duplication algorithms, compression techniques, and encryption" to identify duplicate files and therefore the company only keeps a couple, (or even one) of of the files in its servers. By doing so, the company can keep its costs significantly down and offer infinite storage to its users.



Is it safe?



Now that you understand how it works, the biggest question is whether the data is safe, and who (if anyone) can access it. Bitcasa says every upload is encrypted and protected on the server side, meaning no one but you can ever access it, including employees of the company or "snooping" media companies.

This is great for users who may be scared that anyone can search their personal files. Services like DropBox have admitted that employees are prohibited from accessing files, but are not blocked in any way. They may lose their jobs, but they could do so after they have taken all your pictures, for example.


Review





Bitcasa has been sending out invites to a limited time beta of the service and we got to test the service today.

Everything on the install side was very quick and easy and there was the Bitcasa icon in my taskbar in Windows 7. It is clear that the Mac version of the software is more evolved than the Windows version because the guide videos are all done on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and seem to have features I could not find on the Windows version. In fact, Bitcasa says the Mac version is a true beta while the Windows version is still an early alpha.

Opening the "My Bitcasa Folders" leads you to a very simple input screen where you can drag any folder you want to add to the cloud. If you don't want to drag, you can use the "browse" option to search for your folder. There will eventually be an easier method (already available on Mac) where you can right click on the folder you want and hit the "Cloudify this" option.




For the test, I tried two small folders and one larger one. The first folder, with about 20MB of personal pictures, took about 2 minutes. The second folder, which was a collection of ebooks (90MB), was almost instant, literally, making me believe someone (or many people) out there had the same exact files.

Finally, I tried cloudifying the Dark Knight Rises trailer in 1080p HD. The file came in at 140MB. The file took about 4 minutes (maybe a bit less). Altogether, I was pretty impressed with the speeds as my Internet does not have great upload speeds. If you ever add anything to the folder you shared, it will instantly begin cloudifying without needed input from you.




Now with the files available, it was time to check how easily accessible it was from my Android phone. You head to the Bitcasa portal (at portal.bitcasa.com) and the files are there after a few second loading screen. Very straightforward and everything worked fine. The service will eventually have dedicated apps which should make the process even easier.

No complaints, although it did not seem as fast to find the files as my Dropbox.


Final Thoughts



For an alpha release, I have no complaints, and having an unlimited amount of space will certainly come in handy especially as the world gets more portable. I could certainly see myself using this for all my larger videos that may fill up the Amazon CloudDrive rather quickly. Adding backups of Windows is also a potential idea for you while using the service. Knowing that your files are completely safe and inaccessible to anyone but you is the biggest positive of the service, however, and may be worth the $10 per month after the beta ends.


Availability



If you are a Mac user, Bitcasa beta is available here. You will still need to request an invite (check the Windows section below): Bitcasa for Mac

If you are a Windows user, you will need to receive an invite, which you can request here: Windows Invite

For Linux, the company is still working on an initial launch but it is coming.

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19 user comments

115.1.2012 22:50

I wonder how long it takes someone to figure out how to use this for less than legal uses. Someone uploads a video to the cloud and gives out access to the folder.

Or maybe you can make a file that looks identical to the video that has been uploaded, but is actually only a small file. When you "upload" it to your folder and the system sees it is identical to one already in the system, it gives you access to it without actually uploading anything. Then you can download it at high speed using the bitcasa servers.

I have no idea if that is actually possible, just something I thought of when I read the article.

216.1.2012 0:15

Originally posted by snardos:
I wonder how long it takes someone to figure out how to use this for less than legal uses. Someone uploads a video to the cloud and gives out access to the folder.

Or maybe you can make a file that looks identical to the video that has been uploaded, but is actually only a small file. When you "upload" it to your folder and the system sees it is identical to one already in the system, it gives you access to it without actually uploading anything. Then you can download it at high speed using the bitcasa servers.

I have no idea if that is actually possible, just something I thought of when I read the article.
Should that happen, be pretty sweet to access the files and play them via xbox 3 or ps4.... only in our wildest dreams right now I guess.

Custom Computer rebuild 2.80GHZ@6cores/8GBRAM|3DS | WII|360|PS3|

316.1.2012 0:49

Quote:
make a file that looks identical to the video that has been uploaded, but is actually only a small file...

Ammm... and what are you saying? Clone something that is not a clone, but looks like a clone that is not an original but makes you think it's a clone?

416.1.2012 0:50
P-casa
Unverified new user

you can only give access to one person at a time.

516.1.2012 1:01

I'd like to know more about their de-duplication techniques but I guess that's a trade secret.

616.1.2012 2:33

Quote:
Bitcasa says every upload is encrypted and protected on the server side, meaning no one but you can ever access it, including employees of the company or "snooping" media companies.

If it's encrypted server side then Bitcasa (and any employee with sufficient access to their servers) most certainly can access the files' contents. In fact, I'm confident that their de-duplication techniques would be useless if they couldn't access the true contents of the files to determine which ones were identical.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 16 Jan 2012 @ 2:35

716.1.2012 11:36

Seems to me someone of self proclaimed authority (MPAA/RIAA or the likes) is going to raise hell & as always, claim it revolves around the likes of piracy. I mean, I have to admit, even the mush in my head started to think up the ways it could work & equally, how the alphabet Nazis were going to piss & moan about tying Bitcasa's hands of operation.

I love their idea of a non duplication environment, but it's like I've ranted before; do you 'really' want to trust someone with all your data offsite? Especially these folks, where apparently 'one copy will do'. Mighty bold when one circuit breaker is all it takes.

It's kinda like the old boy who's had one too many colonoscopies... "I'm just not feeling it."


816.1.2012 16:23

Legally, how is this different than Megaupload.com ?
The MPAA is all over Megaupload and the other file sharing sites.


Oh, Im sorry... Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

916.1.2012 16:50

Binfer is a great option to send large files directly from person to person, without uploading to a server. You can send hundreds of files of any size with a simple drag and drop. Binfer will manage the transfers with auto resumes, encryption, notifications etc.

1017.1.2012 10:53

This service avoids the legal issues Megaupload has encountered by making files available *only* to the systems that uploaded them originally. But otherwise, I agree with all the rest of the potential issues that have been raised here.

1117.1.2012 12:22

Originally posted by ThePastor:
Legally, how is this different than Megaupload.com ?
The MPAA is all over Megaupload and the other file sharing sites.

Ummm.............because Megaupload.com is a commercially available site with one sole purpose, housing data that is readily available to ANYONE with given access. Good gracious! I can't believe you need this clarified.

This site is for you PERSONAL storage and not intended for mass distribution.


As for online backup pricing....10 bucks ain't bad but bring that down to 2.99/month and I'll prepay 3 years in advance.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 17 Jan 2012 @ 12:23

1217.1.2012 12:24

Originally posted by ThePastor:
Legally, how is this different than Megaupload.com ?
The MPAA is all over Megaupload and the other file sharing sites.

I suppose it's faster due to it's "no copy" algorithm & then there's the "no size limit" thing... Then you have to pay by the month and only one person at a time can have access to 'folder' as apposed to bagillions of folks. But now I'm just blathering...

Originally posted by hearme0: Ummm.............Good gracious! I can't believe you need this clarified.

Be nice... Even I repeated the information, but realized it may not have been what he wanted. the moderator may have additional information that isn't in the article, give it some time.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 17 Jan 2012 @ 12:46

1317.1.2012 13:53

Well, I'm just thinking outside of the box...
In function the two will be similar.

Megaupload allows you to upload any file so that it is available on the net.
Bitcasa will be doing the same thing.
If I upload my library of MKV video files and then publish the folder, isn't that pretty much the same effect?
How would they prevent me from making my folder available?

I'm just saying that the MPAA is going to have many of the same issues with this service as it does with Megaupload.


Oh, Im sorry... Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

1417.1.2012 14:10

Originally posted by ThePastor:
I'm just saying that the MPAA is going to have many of the same issues with this service as it does with Megaupload.
I would say that 'could' be the case if you gave 'them' access. I'm assuming (yeah, yeah) you'll have to give folks individual access to your folder. That in its own right would be a hassle to no end, which would obviously curtail (to some extent) some of the piracy issues.

Otherwise, how would any of the alphabet Nazi's know what you have in your respective libraries unless Bitcasa broke their silence/security protocol & told them. Or, if there is some kind of fine print stating that you had some kind of heavy traffic in/out of the account meriting a breach of protocol, then there would be trouble.

Just saying.

1528.1.2012 6:34

What I think some of you fail to realize is that giving others access to the items you upload to your BitCasa account would also give them access to any account/payment info you enter. Along with any personal files you may choose to store there.
On the other hand.. this would be an interesting way to "hide" illegally downloaded items.

1630.1.2012 12:44

Originally posted by ThePastor:
Well, I'm just thinking outside of the box...
In function the two will be similar.

Megaupload allows you to upload any file so that it is available on the net.
Bitcasa will be doing the same thing.
If I upload my library of MKV video files and then publish the folder, isn't that pretty much the same effect?
How would they prevent me from making my folder available?

I'm just saying that the MPAA is going to have many of the same issues with this service as it does with Megaupload.
Of course it's different... In the case of Megupload, they arrest the employees. In the case you described, they (the government) will arrest you :P

1710.8.2012 15:54

Originally posted by nonoitall:
Quote:
Bitcasa says every upload is encrypted and protected on the server side, meaning no one but you can ever access it, including employees of the company or "snooping" media companies.

If it's encrypted server side then Bitcasa (and any employee with sufficient access to their servers) most certainly can access the files' contents. In fact, I'm confident that their de-duplication techniques would be useless if they couldn't access the true contents of the files to determine which ones were identical.
Actually the files are encrypted on the
Originally posted by nonoitall:
Quote:
Bitcasa says every upload is encrypted and protected on the server side, meaning no one but you can ever access it, including employees of the company or "snooping" media companies.

If it's encrypted server side then Bitcasa (and any employee with sufficient access to their servers) most certainly can access the files' contents. In fact, I'm confident that their de-duplication techniques would be useless if they couldn't access the true contents of the files to determine which ones were identical.
According to the Bitcasa website encryption is client side. How can de-duplication occur on encrypted files? How are encrypted contents recognized?

1822.8.2012 7:04
NottsRed
Unverified new user

Awful software.

After installing it my laptop started crawling to a stop, applications kept coming up with "Not Responding", even with 4gb RAM in the laptop and not many apps open. When I finally after several attempts managed to get task manager to open I noticed Bitcasa was hogging the CPU, using between 50-90% constantly, when it shouldn't have been doing anything as all many data was already uploaded.

I managed to end the Bitcasa process, and suddenly the laptop was flying again. However, not too long after it was crawling again, opened up task manager, and sure enough there was the Bitcasa process running again. This time however it ignored all my requests to end process, and continued hogging CPU.

I decided to go online and see whether anyone else was having the same problem and if there was a solution. First few results were on the Bitcasa forums, however each topic on the subject had been removed. I wonder why that might be?

I've now uninstalled the application, and the laptop is now running great again.

Thanks, but no thanks, will stick to the small amount of cloud storage I get from DropBox and SkyDrive for now as I am not able to dedicate my laptop to running Bitcasa, I have other things I need to use it for.

1911.10.2012 15:40

Originally posted by secure:
According to the Bitcasa website encryption is client side. How can de-duplication occur on encrypted files? How are encrypted contents recognized?
The file itself is used as the key for the encryption so two users will generate the same encrypted file if the files are exactly the same.

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