Bitcasa opens private beta to all
We talked about this company last year and with all the new entries into cloud storage of late, I thought we should revisit this entity. Cloud storage is nothing new in this age of high-speed internet connections. Services like Dropbox, Microsoft Skydrive, Apple’s iCloud and Amazon S3 give users a set amount of online storage, and as users, we’ve become comfortable with the notion of hard drives in the cloud. Bitcasa has taken a step forward providing a cloud storage solution that offers unlimited space for a measly $10 per month.
Bitcasa is aiming to provide more than just a synced folder on a computer. The idea is that Bitcasa will become completely integrated with the device, negating the idea of placing certain files in the cloud. Instead, the cloud is the computer’s hard drive, and the physical local disk is used like cache. With all those files automatically written to the cloud, it also becomes extremely easy to share them.
The service won’t be dealing with the actual files from the computer. On the server-side, all Bitcasa is concerned with is the 1′s and 0′s that make up the file data. Before uploading anything to the cloud, content is encrypted on the local machine, meaning that Bitcasa is not in a position to know what files it is storing. All Bitcasa (or perhaps some angry copyright holders) can see are encrypted bits and bytes.
When a user needs to access a file, it is pulled down seamlessly from the Bitcasa cloud. Larger files, like video can just be streamed without downloading. According to Bitcasa CEO Tony Gauda, intelligent caching will make the most frequently used content available as local cache. This has the added benefit of making important files available offline for quicker access.
So how can BitCasa afford to offer unlimited cloud storage out of the gate for just $10 per month? Dropbox charges that same rate for just 50GB, and they’ve been building out their cloud storage for a few years now. The key is that a user’s data is never completely unique, or even mostly unique. BitCasa explains (and expects) that roughly 60% of an individual users data is duplicated elsewhere.
Those MP3s purchased from iTunes, photos, and even all those pirated movies are duplicated on many other users’ computers. Bitcasa uses a de-duplication algorithm along with compression technology to reduce the amount of storage space needed for each user. Basically, if two users have an identical file in Bitcasa, the service only keeps one copy and makes it available to both users.
On the surface, Bitcasa sounds remarkable, but there are still some important questions to be answered. The constant encryption and syncing of files to the cloud could be costly in terms of system performance, for instance. This isn’t just another synced folder on a device, users will essentially be doing all their file management in the cloud. Can Bitcasa scale to meet the file management needs of all users as it gains popularity?
Bitcasa has apparently demonstrated enough potential to attract $1.3 million in venture funding. A limited beta is about to start, and users are free to register for an account. During this beta period, the service will be free to use. There will also be a freemium version of Bitcasa down the road with limited storage space. This is definitely a service to keep an eye on; it could change the way we store files.
Sign up now for the limited Beta to get a feel for how this service will operate on your unique hardware and internet connection – after all – it’s Free!
Register for the private beta here: http://www.bitcasa.com/beta-signup