Technology Tips

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:

Domain Name Bingo

The nonprofit organization that oversees the Internet’s address system is bracing for a wave of lawsuits as a result of a controversial program that may add hundreds of top-level domains such as .apple and .nyc.


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a California-based nonprofit that has a contract with the U.S. government to manage the Web’s address system, was due to start accepting applications on Jan. 12 for new extensions to the right of the dot, including brand names, cities, and almost any word in any language. The program may give rise to as many as 2,000 Web suffixes, according to ICANN. There are currently just 22 so-called generic top-level domains, led by .com, .net, and .org. Under ICANN’s plan, the Web could see the likes of .ford or .coca-cola.


Since approving the program back in June 2011, ICANN has come under fire from businesses saying the proliferation of suffixes will confuse consumers and increase companies’ costs of protecting their brands. More than 50 companies, including General Electric, American Express, and Johnson & Johnson, have signed a petition asking that the plan be delayed, and more than a dozen members of Congress have taken up their cause. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz has called the initiative a potential “disaster” that would allow con artists to rip off consumers by setting up fraudulent websites.


Even so, the Obama Administration isn’t likely to force it’s will onto an international organization. Whenever ICANN “seems to be paying too much attention to what the U.S. government says, it generates a certain amount of pushback from the rest of the world, and the U.S. is sensitive to that,” says Esther Dyson, the group’s first chair, and a critic of the domain-name expansion.


ICANN is pressing ahead, saying the plan has been thoroughly vetted during six years of deliberations and includes trademark protections stating “We have extensive safeguards during the process and even afterward, if there are abuses detected,”. Still, it’s interesting to note that ICANN will put aside about $60,000 of every $185,000 domain application fee to cover litigation that may arise from the program.


Who will benefit from an explosion of new Web suffixes? The program may spur sales for Go Daddy Group, VeriSign, and other companies that operate and sell Web domains to businesses and consumers. Donuts, a Seattle startup whose name stands for “domain nuts,” plans to apply for 10 top-level domains under the ICANN program but a company spokesperson declined to name the domains his company is targeting. (No one in this game wants to show their cards early).


The expansion may also give a financial boost to ICANN, which largely supports itself by charging fees to domain-name companies. The program may double ICANN’s annual $85 million budget.


You may remember from our report a year ago, ICANN approved the .xxx domain for adult-content websites in March 2011. Almost 200,000 .xxx domains have been sold so far, according to Stuart Lawley, chief executive officer of ICM Registry, a Florida company that acquired the rights to manage the .xxx suffix from ICANN. It’s proven a good investment: ICM took in almost $25 million from sales of .xxx domains last year.


It wasn’t just pornography sites that bid for the x-rated suffix. Up to 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies registered .xxx domains over a 52-day period starting on Sept. 7, 2011 says Lawley, who declined to name the companies. Their goal: to protect their brands from falling into the wrong hands. At $185,000 per .xxx domain, it’s a pretty expensive insurance policy.

Is It Better To Turn Your Computer Off Or Leave It On

The age old question… Is it better to leave my computer on 24/7 or shut it down when I’m not using it?


This is one of those questions where there is no single right answer. In other words, it depends on how you use your computer.


There are at least three situations that may compel you to leave your computer on 24 hours a day:


•You are on a network, and the network administrators back up files and/or upgrade software over the network at night. If that is the case, and you want your machine backed up or upgraded, then you need to leave it on all the time.


•You’re using your machine as some sort of server. For example, if your machine acts as a file server, print server, Web server, etc., on a LAN (local area network) or the Internet, then you need to leave it on all the time.


•If you’re running something like SETI@home and you want to produce as many result sets as possible, you need to leave your machine on all the time. If you don’t know what SETI is, take a look at this website:


If you do not fall into any of these categories, then you have a choice about whether or not to leave your machine turned on.


One reason you might want to turn it off is economic. A typical PC consumes something like 300 watts. Let’s assume that you use your PC for four hours every day, so the other 20 hours it is on would be wasted energy. Those 20 hours represent about 60 cents a day which adds up to $219 per year.


It’s also possible to use the energy-saving features built into today’s computer systems and cut that figure in half. For example, you can configure the monitor and hard disk to power down automatically when not in use although you’ll still be wasting $100 per year.


The most common argument for leaving your computer on all the time is that turning it on and off somehow stresses the computer’s components. For example, when the CPU chip is running, it can get quite hot, and when you turn the machine off it cools back down. The expansion and contraction from the heat probably has some effect on the solder joints holding the chip in place, and on the micro-fine details on the chip itself. But here are three ways to look at that:


•If it were a significant problem, then computer systems would be failing all the time. The fact is, hardware is very reliable (software is a whole different story, and there is a lot to be said for rebooting every day).


•I don’t know a single person who leaves their TV on 24 hours a day. TVs contain many of the same electronic components that computers do – some of them even have hard drives now. In the grand scheme of all things electronic, TVs certainly have no problems being cycled on and off.


•Most computer resellers will gladly sell you a three-year full-replacement warrantee for about $150. If you’re worried about it, spend some of the money you’re saving by turning your machine off and buy a service contract. Over three years, you’ll still come out way ahead!

New Cyber-Legislation Gains Traction in House and Senate


Federal law enforcement officials believe that cyber-security is more of a threat to the U.S. than traditional terrorism. In order to combat this new threat, the House and Senate are each considering new bills that would tighten the nation’s cyber-security infrastructure. These bills are being debated just as Anonymous has started a new campaign targeting the FBI.


As federal officials and the White House increasingly call on Congress to pass the comprehensive cyber-security bill to protect critical infrastructure, the House moves forward with its version. Federal law enforcement officials expect cyber-espionage, hacktivists and cyber-attacks to soon surpass traditional terrorism as the No. 1 threat facing the United States, according to Congressional testimony.


“Stopping terrorists is the No. 1 priority,” Robert Mueller, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Feb. 1. “But down the road, the cyber-threat will be the No. 1 threat to the country. I do not think it is necessarily [the] No. 1 threat, but it will be tomorrow.”


The U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper urged the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate to pass legislation to increase cyber-security in both the public and private sectors during a hearing of the House Select Intelligence Committee on worldwide threats on Feb. 2. Clapper discussed intrusions on public systems that control major defense weapon systems, electrical grids and banking infrastructure. The U.S. economy is losing upwards of $300 billion per year because of rampant cyber-espionage.


Perhaps we all have the right to be nervous. The hacktivist collective Anonymous released audio transcripts on YouTube of a 16-minute call between the FBI and Scotland Yard where law enforcement officials discussed several Anonymous- and LulzSec-related cases on Feb. 3. The FBI and British police have confirmed that the transcripts are legitimate and said they are investigating.


Anonymous had access to one of the call participants’ email accounts and had intercepted an email containing the dial-in information and passcode for the trans-Atlantic phone call. “The FBI might be curious how we’re able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now,” AnonymousIRC wrote on Twitter.


Congress is making some movements toward a comprehensive cyber-legislation. The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cyber-Security, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies marked up the cyber-security bill sponsored by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and unanimously approved it Feb. 1. Lungren’s Promoting and Enhancing Cyber-Security and Information Sharing Effectiveness Act (PRECISE) calls for creating a nonprofit National Information Sharing Organization that would collect cyber-security threat information and allow the industry to voluntarily share the data with the government. The NISO umbrella would make private firms and government agencies exempt from privacy laws that prevent data sharing, so long as they share the information only for cyber-security purposes.


The bill also identified the Department of Homeland Security as the lead federal agency for securing networks operated by civilian government and private sectors. The bill, as presented, does not give the government an “Internet kill switch” or authority to limit Internet traffic in case of an emergency.


ISPs and other operators need “clearer legal authority” to share signatures and other information about suspected attacks with each other and with the government. A private nonprofit organization would pose far fewer privacy risks than an information-sharing hub run by the government.


The Senate has plans to present its version of the cyber-security bill for markup by Feb. 17. The Senate bill is rumored to also put the Department of Homeland Security in charge, but the agency would also have the authority to create security rules for the private sector to follow, and punish companies that do not comply with the rules. The Department of Homeland Security would decide which companies it would be able to regulate but would select those with systems whose “disruption could result in the interruption of life-sustaining services, catastrophic economic damage or severe degradation of national security capabilities,” according to a summary of the bill.


It’s interesting to note that as much as 85 percent of the country’s critical infrastructure is controlled by the private sector. Looks like Big Brother will finally get its fingers in the pie!

The Battle Against Spam and Phishing Scams is Officially On


Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL and Facebook are setting aside their online rivalry to fight a common enemy: email spam and “phishing” attacks.


The Web giants said Monday they have teamed up with Bank of America, PayPal and others to combat spam and phishing, where emails seeking to obtain passwords or other information are sent to unsuspecting recipients.


Following 18 months of private collaboration, they’ve announced the formation of a technical working group known as, drawn from the acronym for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance.


“Email phishing defrauds millions of people and companies every year, resulting in a loss of consumer confidence in email and the Internet as a whole, industry cooperation — combined with technology and consumer education — is crucial to fight phishing,” said Brett McDowell, the chair of and senior manager of customer security initiatives at PayPal.


The members of DMARC are proposing email authentication standards for email senders and receivers designed to make impersonation more difficult for the fraudsters behind phishing attacks.


Currently, email providers must rely on “complex and imperfect measurements to separate legitimate unauthenticated messages sent by the domain owner from fraudulent phishing messages sent by a scammer.


By introducing a standards-based framework, DMARC has defined a more comprehensive and integrated way for email senders to introduce email authentication technologies into their infrastructure.


AOL, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!, the leading email providers, are members of along with Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, PayPal, American Greetings, Facebook, LinkedIn and email security providers Agari, Cloudmark, eCert, Return Path and Trusted Domain Project.


Use Your Face To Log Into Your Computer And Websites

Are you tired of creating and then trying to remember all your different passwords – never mind having to type them in each time you log into your iPhone, iPad, iOS or Windows based system?


Well, it looks like a company called SensibleVision may have the answer for all of us.


FastAccess Anywhere is your mobile device’s new best friend. Now you can finally use the most powerful sites and apps that have sensitive data—like banking, bill payment, and private email—by securely logging in with your face.*


So, say goodbye to the hassle of remembering and typing all your passwords on that tiny mobile keyboard. Or putting in a PIN or password just to check the weather or make a phone call.


Whether you use iOS or Android phones or tablets, or Windows desktops and laptops, FastAccess Anywhere has you covered. Protect the apps YOU want and instantly input usernames and passwords with your face. 


And, unlike other “novelty” face recognition products that allow access with photos or videos of your face, FastAccess Anywhere has enterprise-level security so you don’t have to worry. It’s fast, safe, and fun!


Sync Passwords Across Devices…iOS, Android, & Windows!

FastAccess Anywhere syncs across phones, tablets, and even your Windows machines. Store passwords on any Android, iOS (Apple), or Windows device and automatically have them available on all of your other devices. Change a password and it updates everywhere!


Because security comes first with FastAccess Anywhere, all passwords are stored securely in the cloud, never permanently on your mobile devices. So, if your phone is ever lost or damaged, your passwords aren’t. That means someone who finds your lost device won’t have access to your credentials. 


Proven Technology for People On-the-Go

Five MILLION users already love FastAccess facial recognition on Windows. Combining our patent-pending, class-leading facial recognition with an optional gesture or shape of your choice, FastAccess Anywhere uses proven technology for storing and retrieving your sensitive passwords on your mobile devices. Not even photos or videos can fool it.


By using your face with a second factor, the accuracy of the two technologies are multiplied to give you piece of mind. In addition, gesture “smudge attacks” are reduced because FastAccess Anywhere moves the gesture area around on the screen.

Up and Running in No Time


Our easy setup wizard will guide you through everything in just a few steps:

  • Create a Cloud Account
  • Teach FastAccess Anywhere your face
  • Create a Gesture

You’ll be using your face to access sites & apps in minutes!

Try FastAccess Pro for FREE – get the free download at:


The software is currently available for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. FastAccess Anywhere for Mobile devices will be available in February.  Watch as the company shakes up this month’s CES show with its pending release.

Top 10 Technology Trends For 2012

Well, it’s December, when sugar plums fill children’s heads and analysts look into their crystal balls to see what the new year will bring. 2012 should be a banner year for personal technology, showcasing the beginning and end for a lot of companies and products, as well as major transitions for those that are left.

Overall, expect to find technology more social, more connected, and increasingly more voice-controlled. We’ll also see the blurring of the lines between tablets and laptops.


Voice Command

The success of Siri (Apples iPhone 4S voice assistant) is clearly driving a lot of folks to create similar offerings, so expect this type of technology to make it over to other handset makers and into tablets next year. PCs should get it as well. Look for Siri-like interfaces in websites, as well to help you navigate. Expect to see something like this tied to Google’s ecosystem, given how much Google likes to copy Apple.


Email Decline

This has actually been going on for a while, with reports that kids coming out of school don’t have email accounts anymore and live on social networks and in messaging products. Files are getting too large to send in email anyway, for the most part, and downloading services that allow you to share links are vastly quicker and often more smartphone/tablet friendly.


Cable Box Decline

The traditional cable box will increasingly be replaced by game consoles and smart TVs next year. This has been going on in Europe for some time, with systems like the Xbox, and Verizon just started a similar effort with that product here for FIOS customers. This provides the advantage of both a richer and less-complex experience for the user, as well as a cheaper experience for the cable company, and it appears to be resonating with both groups.


Hosted Services

As we move into 2012, more and more of what we access will be hosted. Google started the ball rolling with apps, and now OnLive is doing the same for gamers. Movies are streamed now rather than downloaded, and it won’t be long before most of our applications exist on the Internet and don’t run locally.


App Stores

This trend continues and accelerates into 2012 with the launch of Microsoft’s app store and the expected swift demise of packaged software products. As for the software you run locally, you’ll increasingly buy it from a trusted app store, though that store may be offered by Amazon or your laptop/tablet supplier.


Windows 8 – Touch

This product is a trend in and of itself, and it represents the biggest bet that Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft has ever made. The company is going to singlehandedly blur the lines between PCs and tablets and hope that users don’t get confused. This will bring touch into the mainstream of the PC market and narrow the gap between notebooks and tablets.


Thin Is In

Driven largely by tablets (mostly iPads) and ultrabooks (including the MacBook Air), next year will be the year when thin moves across the mainstream of notebook computers. This won’t just be for PCs, as thin products will continue in smartphones, tablets, and TVs as well. Vendors are expected to compete to be the thinnest in every category.


TIS (Tablets in Stuff)

Samsung has already delivered a refrigerator with a built in tablet computer and others are likely to follow their example. New cars will be shown with tablet-like features built into their dash, and this iPad effect will likely extend to things like home automation and high-end home alarm systems as well. And yes, you’ll likely be able to install apps on many of them.


Peer-to-Peer Gaming

Qualcomm will be pushing peer-to-peer gaming into smartphones next year, and this could spell the end for most standalone gaming systems. This will allow people to engage others in games without running up data charges, since the phones talk directly to each other, and gaming may be faster as well, because there is no network latency.


Cores Are Us

In tablets, we’ll move from two processing cores to up to five cores of computing power. These multicore product offerings should allow the next generation of tablets to approach the low end of PC performance, and they’ll be ideal candidates for the ARM version of Windows 8.


2012 is looking pretty good as many new products will be thinner, more social, easier to talk to, friendlier and smarter. What technology innovations would you like to see take the forefront in 2012 – drop me a line and let me know.

Slow PC Getting You Down

5 easy ways to fix a slow Windows PC. It happens to almost every Windows user over time: You buy a new desktop or laptop PC. It runs fast. But a few months later, you’re sure it’s slower than it used to be. Ask for help on the Internet or in real life, and you usually get one of two answers: you must have downloaded a virus, or you need to defragment your hard drive. This is usually NOT the answer. Unless you are experiencing virus like activity, you probably don’t have a virus, and Windows doesn’t need you to run the defragmenting tool yourself these days. Your problems most likely lie elsewhere.


Microsoft offers some basic help on how to solve the problem with five suggestions for getting a Windows machine back up to speed.


Check for viruses — This usually isn’t the problem, despite what your friendly, neighborhood geek told you, but it’s worth a look. If you haven’t got antivirus software running already, download the free Microsoft Security Essentials software.


Run Windows Update — If you haven’t updated your Windows operating system in a while, there may be speed fixes that Microsoft has published since you bought it. Of course, that doesn’t explain why your PC would have actually become slower, but it might improve the problem. Microsoft recommends that you turn on automatic updating, but many computer users hate automatic updates — they always seem to insist on installing themselves in the middle of a deadline or an important chat session. It’s easy to make Windows wait until you tell it to update – just remember to do it regularly.


Reduce your Web page history — This little nugget works. Internet Explorer stores a historical archive of Web sites you have visited. If it gets too big, managing it slows the browser. Microsoft recommends keeping no more than a week’s worth of Web history. The company has instructions for how to reduce the size of your history.


Disable add-ons — Browser add-ons can slow down browsing tremendously, especially if you install several of them. To disable add-ons, go to the Internet Explorer option Tools -> Manage Add-ons. Other browsers have similar configuration controls and suffer the same hit on performance. Use a few add-ons as possible.


Free up some disk space — A disk that’s running out of space can slow Windows performance down a lot, as it juggles data that it would normally just write out to the disk. To reclaim space, run the Disk Cleanup tool (bring up the Start menu and type “disk cleanup tool” into the search box) to remove Internet cache files, clear the Recycling Bin and delete installed programs that you never use.


Still too slow? Here’s a fast and easy way to get some help from the people who make Windows: Log in to Twitter and post a tweet with @MicrosoftHelps in it to get attention from the Microsoft customer support team. The team is available weekdays 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Pacific time. Microsoft has plenty of online documentation, but having a human being help you navigate the software is much quicker—especially if your system is already crawling. One-Ups Apple’s iCloud with 50GB of Free Storage is thumbing its nose at Apples  iCloud and turning up the iCloud competition by offering 50 GB of free cloud storage for anyone who uses a Box Personal account on an iPhone or iPad.

The Box offer of free cloud storage on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch comes as Apple officially launched iCloud, its cloud storage platform for iOS devices, this week. Box’s 50 GB of free cloud storage trumps the 5 GB free on iCloud. 50 GB of storage on iCloud would run about $100 per year.

“That’s right, it’s 50 GB in the cloud completely free, forever,” says Box Social Media Manager Mark Saldana in a blog post. “Your 50 GB of storage isn’t just limited to your mobile device — you get it anywhere you use your Box account, like on your laptop at home or your desktop at the office.”

According to Box, which has become a cloud storage, file sharing and content management darling, users have to visit the Apple App Store and download the newest Box app for their iPhone, iPad and iPod touch; log into the account or register for a new one from the app; start using Box for file sharing and storage.

If you already have a account, you’ll need to update to the newest Box for iPhone and iPad app, version 2.4.3, then log into Box in order to get 50 GB. An is that wasn’t enough, your new account will have an increased file size upload limit of 100 MB instead of the usual 25 MB.”

It has also updated its app with new features. It can leverage AirPlay for wireless streaming of Box content to Apple TV, meaning photos, videos and presentations can be shown.

The 50GB free cloud storage deal comes three years after Box launched its iPhone app and just days after Apple released their new iOS with iCloud included. has made great strides in the cloud storage world of late, breaking onto the scene offering 50 GB of free storage to buyers of the HP TouchPad, the short-lived HP tablet; and free storage to users of HTC smartphones. Those moves have made a cloud storage, file sharing and content management sensation.

The company also recently added new syncing capabilities and security to its offerings, which it unveiled at its first-ever BoxWorks customer conference last month. Box also reportedly also recently deflected a potential acquisition from Citrix for an estimated $600 million and just weeks later announced raising $81 million in funding.

The Entire Cloud Is Your Hard Drive For Only $10 Per Month

The cloud is now your hard drive. And not just a few dozen Gigabytes, Terabytes or even Petabytes, but all of it – infinite storage – for only $10 per month. That’s the incredible promise of the new TechCrunch Disrupt finalist Bitcasa.

The company is launching a new cloud storage, syncing and sharing service that blows away its competitors, including hard drive manufacturers and online services like DropBox and SkyDrive, with ease. In fact, beyond the pricing and limitless storage, the most disruptive thing about the service is its complete integration with your device. You don’t see it, it’s not an icon on your desktop, you don’t drag-and-drop files or folders into it. Instead, you write to the cloud when you save a file on your computer. The cloud is your hard drive, and your actual hard drive is just the cache.

The idea of using the cloud to store files or sync files between devices is not new. Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Docs, Amazon and countless others have been offering online storage for some time. Plus, companies like Mozy and Carbonite use the cloud to back up your files. Other services, like Megaupload or YouSendIt revolve around sharing files through the cloud.

But Bitcasa is not like any of those services. It doesn’t move files around. It doesn’t sync files. It deals in bits and bytes, the 1′s and 0′s of digital data.

When you save a file, Bitcasa writes those 1′s and 0′s to its server-side infrastructure in the cloud. It doesn’t know anything about the file itself, really. It doesn’t see the file’s title or know its contents. It doesn’t know who wrote the file. And because the data is encrypted on the client side, Bitcasa doesn’t even know what it’s storing.

So if you want to cloud-enable your 80 GB collection of MP3′s or a terabyte of movies (acquired mainly through torrenting, naughty you!), go ahead. Even if the RIAA and MPAA came knocking on Bitcasa’s doors, subpoenas in hand, all Bitcasa would have is a collection of encrypted bits with no means to decrypt them.

If you’re still having a hard time wrapping your head around this idea, think of it like this: instead of relying on the fallible and limited hard drive in your computer (and soon, your smartphone), your data is stored on an array of thousands of hard drives and streamed to you on demand. And in order to deal with the “offline” problem, the files you use the most are intelligently cached on your computer, allowing you to work when the cloud goes down, which is rare, as well as when you don’t have an Internet connection, which is more common.

Sharing files via Bitcasa is simple too: just copy and paste a file’s or folder’s link (a URL, available on right-click) and send to someone via email, IM or some other service. They click the link to have the file delivered directly to their desktop.

And the pricing! How on earth is it so cheap?

That’s the easy part, actually. Explains Bitcasa CEO Tony Gauda, $10/month still gives the company good margins. The fact is, 60% of your data is duplicate. If you have an MP3 file, someone else probably has the same one, for example. Each person only tends to have around 25 GB of unique, personal data, he says. Using patented de-duplication algorithms, compression techniques and encryption, Bitcasa keeps costs down (way, way down, but that’s it’s secret sauce), which is what makes it so affordable. Bitcasa also explained that a freemium model is on its way with less-than-unlimited storage for free.

This service sounds almost too good to be true, leaving us with questions that need still need to be answered. Does it really work? Does it slow down your computer? Can it scale? The company is positive it’s ready, but we need to see it to believe it.

Bitcasa currently has 20 patents for its technology and plans to add more in the future. It will also offer mobile applications that run in the background to do on mobile what it does on the desktop today. And it will work on other features, like real-time video transcoding, so your movies can stream to any device, without any manual effort on your part. There are even more things in the works, too, but those are being kept tightly under wraps for now.

The Bitcasa founders include CEO Tony Gauda, Joel Andren and Kevin Blackham, whose combined work experience includes time spent at MasterCard, VeriSign,, Mozy and more. In total, Bitcasa has raised $1.3 million from Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital and Pelion Venture Partners.

Bitcasa will be free while in limited beta trials. Sign up for beta access here.

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