BitTorrent today announced the open beta release of its file synchronization tool Sync, and the debut of an Android app. You can download the latest version now for Windows, Mac, and Linux over at labs.bittorrent.com as well as for Android from Google Play.

The biggest addition in the beta is an archive capability for retrieving previous versions of synced files. Called SyncArchive, the feature is basic versioning brought to the BitTorrent world: the tool now includes a folder where you can see (and search for) all previous versions of your files.

BitTorrent says this was one of two most requested features from its alpha users. The other was mobile apps. In fact, we were expecting both when we wrote about the last alpha release, so neither is a big surprise.

bittorrent sync android 730x432 With 8PB synced already, BitTorrent launches Sync beta with versioning, one way syncing, and an Android app

The Android app requires Froyo (Android version 2.2) or higher and lets you sync folders with computers, send files to other mobile devices with BitTorrent Sync installed, as well as back up pictures and videos. The company says an iOS version is expected to follow “soon” but wouldn’t say when.

Since the open alpha release, the company has added the following features into the open beta:

  • One-way synchronization.
  • One-time secrets.
  • Option to exclude specific files/directories.
  • Advanced preferences configuration.
  • Support for additional types of NAS devices.
  • Improved Linux WebUI.
  • Bug fixes and other improvements.

Speaking of the open alpha, which was released on April 23, users have synced 8 petabytes of data using the tool so far. To put that into perspective, the Internet Archive houses 10 petabytes of data.

How did the tool get so popular so quickly? Users can sync an unlimited number of files of any size between their devices, transferring them encrypted and at the maximum speed supported by their network since they aren’t limited by a cloud service.

071613 bt sync DITL graphic 730x389 With 8PB synced already, BitTorrent launches Sync beta with versioning, one way syncing, and an Android app

Because Sync is based on the BitTorrent protocol, there are no third-party servers involved when syncing your files: everything is stored only on your trusted devices, controlled and managed solely by you. You can regularly change your secrets (the keys that allow you to share and access folders over Sync) as well as invite people by sharing a one-time secret instead of distributing a permanent one.

You might be wondering how BitTorrent thus has usage information about Sync, if it’s meant to be so private. The company says that while it has general statistics about the app, it doesn’t have any access to your information: the client reports back anonymous usage data to check if there’s a new build available and to help improve the app.

In fact, BitTorrent is very interested in playing up its tool as a solid alternative to other sharing tools that rely on the cloud:

First, with all of the NSA and PRISM developments of late consumers are more keenly aware of online privacy and digital security issues. As BitTorrent Sync doesn’t rely on servers, your data is never exposed to prying eyes. No servers also means Sync does not contribute to the environmental and energy concerns that have surfaced with the cloud.

Likewise, Sync is built is such a way that the product will never shut down. The software will be as usable (and free) in the future as it is today. The user is always in control of their own data.

Nevertheless, as we have said before: whenever you’re sharing something on the Internet, remember that it is never completely private. Still, Sync is a very promising tool, and we’ll continue to keep you posted on its development, especially when the first stable version is out.

If you’re interested as to how the tool came to be, check out this blog post the company posted just yesterday: The Making of BitTorrent Sync.

See also – BitTorrent’s browser extension Surf hits beta with new recommendation engine, Firefox support, and more and BitTorrent and uTorrent mobile apps on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone pass 20 million downloads

Top Image Credit: Marius Muresan