It’s strange that the function of peer-to-peer technology doesn’t often combine directly with cloud efforts because the strategy behind p2p fits so neatly into the jigsaw of the cloud. It certainly does combine behind the scenes more often than not, even though much of the media industry seems to be out to demonize BitTorrent, we can see that it’s the basis behind large distribution networks such as Pando and Scalify. Next on-the-spot is an app that hybridizes BitTorrent and Dropbox called Boxopus.
It does this by hooking a users Dropbox up to a torrent initializer and allowing the download of torrents directly into their Dropbox account (which then synchronizes the torrent with all their computers.)
TorrentFreak caught up with Boxopus founder Alex, who told them, “Cloud storage is an emerging trend, it’s obvious that sooner or later everything will be in the cloud. That’s why we decided to unite Dropbox and BitTorrent to make downloads as easy as 1 click, without using even a BitTorrent client.”
This sort of hybridization is an end-user appliance level connection that makes sense from an availability standpoint. Often people use torrents to download extremely large files (gigs or hundreds of megs) but since these downloads take a long time we often trigger them at home and then go to work (or to sleep) and then wait. In my line of work I download large files with torrents often, such as betas to video games or media demonstrations but it’s useful for me to be able to trigger it and then be able to access it from home and work when it’s done.
Along comes Boxopus and I can locate a torrent magnet link, trigger it, and then as it runs it will flow to all the locations I might need that large file. No more need for me to tote my external harddrive between work and home just to get a better transfer rate.
Because Boxopus uses the Dropbox API directly and doesn’t download into one machine first, it doesn’t need to double-up bandwidth from any of the synched folders. It just downloads the torrent into Dropbox and the cloud service does the heavy lifting of making sure all the computers are synchronized. In a way, this might even allow seeding and peering to work faster (depending on the bandwidth available via Boxopus.)
What about piracy and the looming shadow of Megaupload?
It’s been mentioned before on SiliconANGLE that every advance of technology that brightens the cloud also brings the dark lining cast by the shutdown of Megaupload closer to cyberlockers. The addition of Boxopus that enables torrents to flow directly into Dropbox has what the copyright cartels might consider a “dark underbelly,” and this is that since Boxopus does the torrenting the IP address of the torrenter is hidden from view.
As long as Dropbox allows this arguably extremely useful app they could become claimed accomplice in torrent piracy. The Pirate May, possibly the most famous torrent tracker in existence, has been facing legal decisions and censorship from all quarters lately and as 2011 wore on greater scrutiny from the media industry over torrents.
Will this extremely useful application push Dropbox even closer to Megaupload territory? It certainly seems that it might, so what we’re going to be watching out for is if Dropbox permits it to stand in the fashion that it currently functions. Already the company complies with copyright takedown notices from copyright holders, so the public-facing problem of cyberlockers is handled; but it may come down to what happens when they want to know how many torrents are flowing into them.