Peer-to-Peer Technology to Trump Traditional Cloud Storage

On a lovely Thursday afternoon in June, I sat down with Sarah Koo, a data scientist with BitTorrent. I grew up in a time and place where Peer-to-Peer (P2P) transfer was almost commonplace, and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn more about this unique technology.


When Peer-to-Peer transfer is mentioned, the subject of copyright protection is the first thing to come to mind. Though P2P transfer is used, at times, to download Game of Thrones, the technology itself is an innovative protocol designed to efficiently transfer large files. I want to make an explicit statement that neither I, Sarah, nor BitTorrent, condones any forms of illegal file transfers. I am advocating the technology itself, which is commonly used in both academia and business. 


Bram Cohen created the Peer-to-Peer transfer protocol about a decade ago. This genius literally coded the program by himself in his bedroom, like many of our city’s tech entrepreneurs. Traditional file transfer protocols connected downloaders to a single server for direct file transfers. If there were 100 users downloading the same file, all these users would connect to the same server. Such traditional methods resulted in significant speed reductions and heavy server strain as demand for the file increased. Cohen's application created a distinct virtual network per file that allowed any invited users to help with distribution.

a protocol that created a virtual network based on the file itself, thus anyone within the network can help distribute the file

Lets say UC Berkeley is working on a massive database, and it needs to distribute it to 10,000 researchers across the country. If each of these 10,000 researchers downloads the file directly from the Cal server, the strain on the single server is intense and extremely inefficient. P2P transfer creates a network that links all invited researchers together, and once any researcher finishes downloading the database, he can act as a file distributor for other researchers within the network. Thus, the strain of distributing the database is crowd sourced to all its participants. 

BitTorrent, the most popular P2P transfer application, breaks down large files into small segments for even more efficient distribution. If the database described above is 20-gigabytes; BitTorrent could break down the file into 20 equal sized 1-gigabyte files. “If I request the file from peers, I can be getting it from 20 different people at the same time.” Thus, each peer only needs to distribute 1/20th of the overall load.

breaks down large files into small segments for more efficient distribution

Because BitTorrent breaks down files into many individual segments, peers can act as distributors the moment they finish downloading any piece of the overall file. Once all the segments are downloaded, BitTorrent reassembles the original file as whole. The ability to deconstruct files and then reassemble the segments after the transfer protocol is complete is groundbreaking, especially in the field of cloud storage.

BitTorrent has utilized this technology to build sync applications that are commonly used in industries such as video editing. In Hollywood, uncut video files run in the hundreds of gigabytes. If multiple video editors are working on the same film, it’s inefficient to retransfer the whole video anytime a minute change is made. Many editors utilize this segmentation technology to transfer and sync only the portions that were altered. Instead of retransferring the whole 100gb video, Hollywood only transfers the 1gb scene that was actually edited. Now that’s efficiency.


In our current age of NSA surveillance and CISPA interrogation, privacy and security has become a major concern. BitTorrent is unique among cloud storage applications, because it’s only a protocol, and not a storage system. “There’s no copy of (your files) on our cloud.” “If the government would be to subpoena our records, we wouldn’t have anything to turn over.”

“If the government would be to subpoena our records, we wouldn’t have anything to turn over.”

The lack of centralized storage acts as both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, your files never leave your possession; on the other hand, there’s no backup other than your own. Obviously, there are ways to alleviate this issue, but it’s something to keep in mind. I want to emphasis again that BitTorrent is only a protocol, not a storage service. 

Finally, I want to mention another firm that utilizes a similar technology, or at least one that I found to be of some interest. Bitcasa acts as a traditional cloud storage service, but it’s developing a technology called Infinite Drive: When a duplicate file is uploaded, the protocol searches its database for preexisting files, and earmarks the original without uploading the duplicate. 

If two teenage girls upload the same Justin Bieber album, only one copy is actually stored on Bitcasa's servers. When the album is downloaded, both users access the same file. The technology is interesting, but there are significant areas of concern. If one user alters the album, how would it affect related users who share the same download address. I don’t think this technology is ready for widespread use, but it’s something to look out for in the future.

the word “traditional” to describe cloud storage

It’s funny; it seems like it was only yesterday that Dropbox launched, but this Generation Y technology has already become old news. Earlier in this article, I, inadvertently, used the word “traditional” to describe cloud storage; might as well get out the cane and monocle while at it. The future of file storage will take advantage of Peer-to-Peer transfer protocol. It’s an ingenious method that enables crowd sourcing to distribute large files, and it's capabilities are greatly magnified by BitTorrent’s segmentation technology.

Peer-to-Peer file transfer is secure; but more importantly, it’s efficient.

  • Gorgias Uses Machine Learning To Suggest Customer Support Answers

    Feb 11, 2016 | 09:17 am

    Gorgias Uses Machine Learning To Suggest Customer Support Answers  Meet Gorgias, an artifial intelligence-powered help desk to make you much more efficient when it comes to answering customer support requests. The company just raised $1.5 million from Charles River Ventures, Amplify Partners and Kima Ventures. Gorgias lets you make educated decisions without having to switch between multiple tools. Read More

  • Who knew your printer was fashion's new best friend?

    Feb 11, 2016 | 09:07 am

    Who knew your printer was fashion's new best friend? NEW YORK — Printers are no longer just for homework assignments. When you hear the word "Epson," visions of swag don't really dance in your head. Well, the electronics company has decided to finally change that. The Japanese brand has teamed up with the fashion industry in hopes of elevating its cool factor and facilitate textile printing at the same time. Epson hosted its second annual Digital Couture event in New York City.Image:COURTESY EPSONEpson hosted its second annual Digital Couture event Tuesday, where 11 designers from North and South America debuted collections printed exclusively using Epson technology.  Read more...More about Fashion, Epson, Textile Design, Printing, and Fashion Week

  • BBVA Shuts In-House Venture Arm, Pours $250M Into New Fintech VC Propel Venture Partners

    Feb 11, 2016 | 09:03 am

    BBVA Shuts In-House Venture Arm, Pours $250M Into New Fintech VC Propel Venture Partners  BBVA — the Spanish banking giant that acquired Simple in the U.S. and last year made a $128 million investment in still-stealth mobile-only bank Atom in the UK — is changing up how it plans to invest in fintech startups in the future. The company is shutting down its in-house venture arm, BBVA Ventures; and it is taking BBVA Ventures’ portfolio, the $100 million fund it… Read More

  • 2016 NowSecure Mobile Security Report Reveals That 25 Percent of Mobile Apps Include at Least One High Risk Security Flaw

    Feb 11, 2016 | 09:02 am

    PRESS RELEASE: NowSecure, the leader in mobile-focused security solutions, today revealed the results of its highly anticipated 2016 NowSecure Mobile Security Report – offering a detailed look into the current state of mobile security. Eye-opening...

  • Chukong spins out Cocos2d-x game engine and services as a separate company

    Feb 11, 2016 | 09:01 am

    China’s Chukong Technologies is spinning out its Cocos2D-x game engine and its associated mobile services as a separate company. Chukong makes and publishes its own mobile games such as Fishing Joy (downloaded 120 million times), and that will remain its main business. But it also owns the popular Cocos2D-x mobile game engine, which is used by […]

  • China’s Locojoy partners with Taptica to drive downloads of new game

    Feb 11, 2016 | 09:00 am

    A popular Chinese studio is taking all the help it can get to make its new game a hit. Taptica, an advertising platform for mobile games, today announced that it’s partnering with Chinese developer Locojoy to help increase downloads of its latest app, the role-playing game Chrono Heroes (no relation to the Chrono Trigger or […]

  • Facing An Array Of Challenges, Autodesk Shifts To Subscription Pricing

    Feb 11, 2016 | 08:50 am

    Facing An Array Of Challenges, Autodesk Shifts To Subscription Pricing  Autodesk has been around the block a few times, having debuted way back in 1982 in the earliest days of the desktop PC. These days, the company is in the midst of a major transition from a licensing model to a subscription model, while juggling the assortment of challenges a change like this brings to a mature company.It would be wrong to characterize this is as a total cloud pivot, however. Read More

  • Google Finally Expands Europe’s Search Delisting To Domain

    Feb 11, 2016 | 08:14 am

    Google Finally Expands Europe’s Search Delisting To Domain  It’s taken well over a year for Google to shift its position but the search giant is finally buckling to European data protection regulators’ demands to apply granted search delisting requests on the domain, as well as European subdomains as it currently does. Read More

  • Why your love for Tinder is so blinding

    Feb 11, 2016 | 08:00 am

    Why your love for Tinder is so blinding Over 100 million people have downloaded Tinder since its inception in 2012. Now it seems singles are more interested in spending their days swiping left or right on their phones than actually meeting people in real life. So is Tinder destroying love as we know it? Read more...More about Tech, Apps Software, Videos, Work Play, and Tinder

  • Google Chrome For Android Will Soon Support Interactions With Bluetooth Beacons

    Feb 11, 2016 | 07:59 am

    Google Chrome For Android Will Soon Support Interactions With Bluetooth Beacons  Google announced today that it has begun to support physical beacons in its Chrome browser for Android. Read More

  • Mobile Payments Startup Payleven Raises Another $10M

    Feb 11, 2016 | 07:40 am

    Mobile Payments Startup Payleven Raises Another $10M  The days of Square clones popping up, everywhere you looked and capitalizing on Square’s conservative approach to global expansion, are long gone. But those startups are not. And today, one of them is announcing a Series D round.Payleven, a mobile payments startup originally incubated in 2012 at Berlin’s Rocket Internet, says it has raised a $10 million growth round from a… Read More

  • Qualcomm’s new chips include a Snapdragon that powers next-gen wearables

    Feb 11, 2016 | 07:30 am

    Qualcomm decided to have a chip party today, and here’s the one with the salsa: a new Snapdragon Wear Platform that will power the next generation of wearables. The world’s biggest mobile chipmaker also launched a new modem for faster data networking and new Snapdragon processors that will make mainstream consumer devices better at sensing, […]