Bitcasa is a new service that aims to replace your hard disk with encrypted data storage in the cloud. The concept is that you will spend $10/month for unlimited storage in the cloud, and it replaces your hard disks; instead, your local disks are used as a cache. I have received a beta invitation and have it installed on the main work computer. It is an exciting product!
So, why haven’t I started using it yet? I have a few reservations that keep me from using it. In the beta phase, data is not removed from your local disk when you “cloudify” it. But after the service goes fully live, your data will live in the cloud, and be available on any computer you use. A few reservations keep me from giving it a workout as of yet, and I would like to talk these over with the kind folks at Bitcasa to see how they might suggest working the issues out.
First of all, I am not quite sold on sending my data off to the cloud. I realize that the local cache will keep copies of frequently used files on hand, but what about the rest of it? This assumes that I have a constant Internet connection to retrieve my files, and that it be reasonably fast if I don’t want any delay.
These transfers also consume data usage. On a mobile plan alone, Bitcasa makes no sense. However, many ISPs are beginning to cap the data usage; my DSL only allows 150GB/month, where a friend of mine in New Zealand gets a meager 10GB/month. For me to transfer 1TB of data to the cloud, it will take literally several months. I am considering uploading a small number of non-essential files each month; it is nice you can upload to the cloud incrementally.
A third concern is latency. As I have plans to have a media server on my network soon, having the audio and video files available from a fast NAS (network attached storage) server is very important to ensure seamless playback. Netflix can’t even stream to the house without hiccups, so I don’t feel confident I could stream a DVD-quality file over my own network, let alone a congested Internet.
Finally, what about Bitcasa itself? What happens if the company goes out of business, and our data is lost in the cloud? Even if we had a period of time to retrieve data, can you imagine the time (and cost of overusage fees) it would involve to download all of our data back to our computers? I want Bitcasa to succeed, but what guarantee do we have that they won’t hit problems down the road?
Despite my reservations, I really want to like Bitcasa. So far it is unique, it’s cross-platform, and the unlimited storage it provides would really help relieve me of space on my local disks. The only feature request I have: make it an option whether or not you want to move your data to the cloud, or just copy it, leaving a local copy on your hard disk. Why? This would be a perfect way to perform a backup of specific groups of files, as well as part of an overall backup strategy.
Check back here for updates, and tips on using Bitcasa.