I’ve been testing an interesting service called Bitcasa over the past few months and have had a lot of fun and some hardships. I’ll get to those later, but first let me address what exactly Bitcasa does. Bitcasa is a cloud storage service just like Dropbox and Google Drive, but with a few differences. Bitcasa offers an option to sync data to the cloud just like the others, but they also offer an option to STORE data in the cloud. This means that the data isn’t on your computer, but it seems like it is. It’s actually streamed directly from Bitcasa’s infrastructure.
How it works
Bitcasa stores all uploaded data to Amazon Web Services and encrypts it in a way that no one, not even them, can access it (here’s some more info about their encyrption techniques). They have proprietary software that allows them to keep one copy of everything on their server. So when I update a song, for example, that’s already on their servers, it won’t upload because someone else already uploaded it. This way they can save lots of money on storage costs and offer unlimited data. This is on the notion that not everyone is going to use 2 TB of data and that most data they only have to store once.
Bitcasa, from what I can see, is the only company that offers a service like this. Every other cloud storage service (Dropbox, box.com, Google Drive, etc…) syncs files between your computers, but it still stores your data locally. Bitcasa stores all your data on their hard drives, so it doesn’t take up precious hard drive space on your computer. This is a godsend for Macbook Air (and other Ultrabook) owners, like me.
In theory, it’s a great service. I just wish it didn’t have so many…
- It’s very slow. Uploading and downloading a few gigabytes takes hours, sometimes days**. This could be because of their encryption process (they encrypt/decrypt locally), but this is unacceptable.
- Terrible support. Unresponsive, unhelpful… just not a good experience.
- The worst UI I’ve ever seen. It was bad, and then they did an update a few months back, and it got worse. It’s obvious that they haven’t found a good designer yet.
- Bugs, bugs, bugs. Was almost unusable when I was a actively using their systems.
- Disconnected management. These issues have been persisting since Bitcasa’s inception, they haven’t been fixed, and there’s no sign of them being fixed. That’s my biggest worry with this company. Their focused on getting more users and making new features, but they’ve yet to fix the current issues.
Ugh… I really wish it turned out better than this. This idea is GREAT, they just might not be the right people to execute it. Maybe others have had better experience with Bitcasa? Share them in the comments and maybe I’ll revisit this company.
* For those who have participated in the free beta, you’ll get a discount of some sort.
** From testing almost 6 months ago, data could’ve changed since then. Data not measured scientifically.