In the past I contantly struggled with keeping my PC’s and devices up to date with all the stuff I needed on them.
The best way to do this was to use some kind of replication program for copying files between devices. I’ve tried most, if not all, of these programs from ones that simply don’t work – MS Synctoy – to ones that do but are hugely expensive – Peersync.
And then, along comes Bittorrent sync, and it doesn’t disappoint.
BTSync uses the Bittorrent protocol to replicate files over any network – local, VPN or internet.
All data is encrypted. You can have one way or bi-directional synching. And it’s one of the simplest programs I have ever used.
To setup a sync simply add a folder to sync. Browse to the folder you want to sync and click the Generate button to create the keys. This will create 2 cryptographic keys – one for full access (bi-directional) and one for read only (one direction). You can view the keys by selecting the folder and hitting Info – copy the relevant key and then on the other device or PC create a folder where the files will be synched to and add this folder to BTSync but don’t hit the generate key – instead paste the relevant key in to the box (how you get the key from one device to another is up to you – if local then just copy and paste, if remote then print out and type in manually, or send via secure email). The synchronisation is now set up and you will see the synching starting. That’s it!
As with all synching programs it may be best to copy the contents from one device to another first – the synching program doesn’t then have to take ages doing the initial sync.
You will soon notice that BTSync only kicks in when your machine is idle. Any changes to files are picked up automatically and if you have it set to start when the machine starts then an initial sync will take place once logged on. Notifications popup showing what is happening – when you are confidant all is ok you can switch off the notifications.
This is just marvellous stuff but what was even more surprising was when I got BTSync installed on my NAS drives. Not all NAS devices have a BTSync app that you can install – Netgear did at the time of writing.
Via a web interface you can setup syncs just like in the normal program.
I setup a repository for My Documents folder under windows – bi-directional sync between my desktop My Documents and the NAS drive and also to my Laptop. That’s right, you can have multiple devices participating in the synchronisation – setup the folder on the NAS device and create the keys there, then on the desktop and laptop simply create a sync using My Documents as the folder and enter the full access key.
Not only does this instantly synchronise my documents folder between machines as soon as changes are made it also does it automatically over the Internet. When i’m out and about with my laptop and i’m connected to the internet (via wi-fi for instance but could just as easily work over mobile network) BTSync will synchronise with my NAS device bi-directionally. Just fantastic!
The only thing BTSync falls down on is not being able to synchronise with offline devices e.g. an external backup disk. It’s just not designed for that scenario. Of course you could synchronise between 2 NAS devices over the Internet. But for general offline backup you still need the old mathod – Peersync workstation being the best choice.
There’s also no way to force a synchronisation it just does it when it can – it does initialise a full sync every 10 mins (this is an option that you can change to any time preferred in the preferences).
But for the kind of application described above it just rocks! And, it’s free!