When you need to share everyday files between devices, cloud storage services work wonders. But when you need to quickly transfer big files between PCs, tablets, and smartphones, it's hard to beat the speed of BitTorrent Sync's cloudless file sharing. And now BitTorrent Inc. says it has hard numbers to show just how fast its peer-to-peer sync app really is.
The company behind Sync (and the newer Bleep messaging service) says that based on its tests, BitTorrent Sync transfers are up to 16 times faster than syncing with cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.
The impact on you at home: While BitTorrent's study has an obvious inherent bias, it reinforces what we already know: it's hard to beat peer-to-peer file transfers in terms of speed. The bottom line for users is that if you need to transfer a big file at home, then BitTorrent Sync is your best bet to get it done fast. The only downside is that since Sync is "cloudless," you can't make room on your hard drive by offloading a big file onto third party servers the way you can with Dropbox or OneDrive.
It's faster, but...
So how much faster was BitTorrent Sync? The company says Sync was 8x faster than Google Drive, 11x faster than OneDrive, and 16x faster than Dropbox. The company tested all four services by syncing a 1.36GB MP4 video file between two PCs. The transfer took 41 seconds with Sync, 11:24 (minutes, seconds) with Dropbox, 7:39 with OneDrive, and 6:01 with Google Drive.
For its testing environment, the company used two MacBook Pros with the Wi-Fi turned off. This measure ensured all traffic traveled via hard line Ethernet cables through the company's 1 Gbps up/down connection.
The study also accounted for various issues such as Dropbox's deduplication scheme that can speed up sync times for files uploaded more than once. For more information on some of the problems the company had during the speed tests check out BitTorrent's blog post.
...it's not all about speed
Cloud services, while convenient, aren't necessarily designed for speed, especially when it comes to larger files. Many of the major services rate-limit uploads to control how much bandwidth is being gobbled up by their users at any given time.
Peer-to-peer networking technology, on the other hand, is all about moving files quickly. The typical Sync user also transfers files between devices on the same network, which means transfer speeds are only limited by the speed of your local network connection.
It appears that BitTorrent's test was based on local file transfers for Sync and not remote file sharing. It would be interesting to see how much impact remote transfers would have on Sync's speeds compared to cloud services, which, by definition, store your files at a remote location.
While BitTorrent's tests sound impressive, you shouldn't necessarily expect to see the same transfer speeds at home. As we mentioned earlier, Sync is still limited by the speed of your network connection. However, you should expect Sync to be faster for large files than syncing with third-party cloud storage services.