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BitTorrent Sync Alpha Now Available for All

Back in January, we signed up for a closed pre-alpha program of BitTorrent Sync, a means of creating a local cloud for backing up files and syncing them across multiple devices. Because it's local, the capacity amount of Sync is only limited to the user's actual hardware. The system is free, it's simple to set up, and relies on the power of BitTorrent's peer-to-peer file sharing technology. It's also now available to everyone.

"Twenty thousand people signed on to help us test Sync out; syncing over 200 terabytes of data along the way," the company said on Tuesday. "With thanks to our intrepid pre-Alpha users, we’re ready to open up the Sync to everyone."

BitTorrent Sync is designed to handle large files on a local network. Transfers are also protected by using cryptic keys, and do not rely on a server in the cloud to relay that data from one networked PC to another. There's even an option to exclude files and directories when the user wants to exclude one due to privacy, version control or any other control.

Since the pre-alpha program went live, BitTorrent has added a number of new features including one-way synchronization, support for different types of NAS devices, an improved Linux WebUI, bug fixes and other improvements. There's also what BitTorrent calls one-time secrets.

"As a refresh, 'secrets' are the keys that allow you to share and access folders over Sync," the company said. "One Time Secrets is a security feature for instances when you do not want a master key and need a use-once solution. It will expire the Secret after 24 hours."

To add a new folder to Sync, users simply click on the '+' button (Mac) or "Add" button (Windows) at the bottom of the Folders tab. Users can then chose any folder on the computer or external drive as long as they have proper permissions to modify the folder. If the folder doesn’t exist, then users can create a new folder anywhere on the computer.

"Folders that sync are connected by a common secret--a private key that is unique for every sync folder," the company explains. "If you initiate a sync network, click Generate to create a new secret. This secret must be then entered on all the devices you want to sync. If you are joining a sync network, enter an existing secret that someone has shared with you."

Theoretically it should be possible to offer secret keys for syncing files with anyone whether they're on your network or not. BitTorrent sent along a secret key last night to sync with a private folder containing 1.1 GB of featured content located in their office. I couldn't get the key to work – possibly because I didn't get a chance to test it until this afternoon and the key had expired – but the offering indicates that files could be shared between those who exchange keys regardless of where they are located. BitTorrent even states that users can "share a folder with friends and family to automatically sync anything".  

That said, content owners may have a bigger problem on their hands than the Pirate Bay crew. Imagine forums dedicated to posting these secret codes that lead to read-only folders full of movies, TV shows and more to download. Time will tell.

For more information about BitTorrent Sync, head here. It's in an alpha stage, so expect bugs and other weirdness for a while.