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Bitcasa Review

Bitcasa at a Glance

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Bitcasa Review
37 votes, 3.43 avg. rating (68% score)

Our Rating

3.75 / 5 stars
★★★¾☆ 

Price:

Pricing updated with new plans as of November 19, 2013.

  • Free up to 20GB of storage.
  • $10.00 / month or $99.00 / year for 1TB.
  • $49.00 / month or $499.00 / year for 5TB.
  • $99.00 / month or $999.00 / year for infinite storage

Pros:

  • Supports Windows, Mac and Linux (coming soon) operating systems.
  • Android available.
  • iOS app available.
  • Windows 8 and Windows RT app available.
  • Infinite Drive.
  • Easy to share files with friends and family.

Cons:

  • Infinite drive needs an Internet connection.
  • Mirrored folders and files read only on other devices.
  • Windows version not limited to one user account. All accounts have Bitcasa installed.
  • Linux version is behind Windows and Mac desktop versions.
  • Can be slow depending on your Internet connection.
  • No bandwidth throttle to control the bandwidth the client uses.
  • Limits on number of devices you can use.
  • Infinite (unlimited plan) incredible expensive.

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Full Bitcasa Review

Bitcasa Infinite StorageBitcasa was one of several companies in the 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. Ever since then they have been promising to become your infinite hard drive in the cloud. It sounds to good to be true but they propose a shift in how you think about online storage and backup. Instead of having all your data on your computer and copying it to the cloud, Bitcasa turns it around and stores your data in the cloud and makes it available to you on whatever device you are on. It turns your local hard drive into a cache for your data.

Installation
Installing Bitcasa is easy, just head to their website and click the download link on the website. It does a pretty good job of displaying the link for the operating system that you are using. When this review was being written there where desktop clients for Windows, Mac and Linux (64bit only) and Windows 8 and Windows RT apps in the Windows app store. There is also an Android app available, more on that later in the review.

Once you have the installer a simple double click and follow the installation wizard to install the desktop application. After the installation wizard is done you will be presented with the option to create a new Bitcasa account or login with an existing account. After that you can name the computer that you are on and the application will login to the Bitcasa servers.

Bitcasa will then give you a little introduction about what Bitcasa is and allow you to start mirroring your files to their service. With the little walk through of how to use Bitcasa is over installation is done.

One problem that I found with Bitcasa is the installation is not limited to the account that you install the application on. For example I installed Bitcasa on our Windows 7 family computer to test it. My kids also use that computer and when they would log in to their accounts they would be asked to login to Bitcasa. You might be able to stop this behavior by not allowing Bitcasa to run at start up, but it would be better if Bitcasa simply loaded only on the account it was installed on.

I recorded a video of a typical install of Bitcasa on my Windows 7 test machine. It gives you a good idea of what you will see and need to do in the installation.

Infinite Drive
The infinite drive is the real selling point of Bitcasa, forget a folder you need a whole drive that never runs out of room. This works much like those special folders do with other service but there are a few differences. Any thing you copy to your infinite drive is moved to the cloud and made available when you need it. This is great if you have an always on Internet connection. Files do not sync like other services, they stream and are made available when you need them. If your Internet connection goes down or you have to work offline these files are no longer available.

Because the infinite drive relies on your Internet connection if your connection is not the fastest you can experience slow file access. I have a DSL connection and had the occasional problem accessing larger files in the infinite drive. If you have fiber you will probably not notice this kind of slow down.

Mirroring Files
In Bitcasa mirroring files is essentially creating a backup of your files on that computer to Bitcasa servers. The files are then accessible from any device and the web portal for you to access. Access is the important word here, mirrored files are not writable on other computers, you can only access them. This makes sense in some ways because it does not sync a mirrored folder, it is a backup of the files on one machine. If you want to work on these files you would need to move or copy them to your infinite drive for them to be writable on other machines and devices.

Mobile App
Bitcasa currently has an Android mobile app and it is a nice app. It gives you access to all your files that are mirrored or in your infinite drive. It can also copy your photos and videos from your Android device up to the Bitcasa servers. You can easily browse your photos, stream music and video to your device and access all of your files. It is also one of the nicest looking apps there is available.

2012-12-18 10.29.49

Bitcasa Everywhere Chrome Extension
If you use Chrome you should look into the Bitcasa Chrome Extension. It is available in the Chrome Web Store and I have found it to be extremely useful. The extension allows you to download files to your Bitcasa account as you are browsing the web and then have those files available on all the computers and devices you have Bitcasa installed. It is very useful for downloading files from websites and then opening them later.

Web Portal
The Bitcasa web portal allows you to access all of your files and upload new files via the web browser. The web portal has improved greatly from when I first tried it. You can browse your files by type, stream video and audio files and access all your saved documents and download them. It has room for improvement but has come a long way since I first looked at it.

Bitcasa-Portal1

Other Features
Sharing – Bitcasa allows you to share any of the files you have uploaded with anyone you want. You can share files and folders from the web portal or from the desktop app. You will get a link you can share with people so they can also download the file.

Note that while Bitcasa tells search engines not to index shares it is possible that your shared files could be accessible by others that you did not intend. If you no longer need to share files you can remove a share link on a file.

Overall
Bitcasa seemed like a dream come true, as much space as you could ever want but their new pricing plans announced in November 2013 have made them over priced as a backup service and devices new device limits make then less useful than other storage services. It takes a little getting used to using Bitcasa, compared to an online backup service or an online storage service. Bitcasa seems to be a bit of both and it could be confusing to some people. If you want backup Bitcasa does a good job of it, but I think it shines more as an online storage service with the infinite drive. I particularly like the Chrome extension and the Android mobile app. If you have a slower Internet connection or are not always connected to the Internet the infinite drive might not be for you.

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Screenshots

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11 Responses to Bitcasa Review

  1. willemijns says:

    hello,

    infinity for 10$/month, you must to be sure of their business-plan ^^

    • Lee says:

      Well if Backblaze can do unlimited backup for $5.00/month, it might be possible. Very little is known about the data centers that Bitcasa uses. I read at one time they were using Amazon but that they had plans to move to their own. I imagine that has happened since they are close to coming out of beta.

      • Dheeraj says:

        More importantly they use heavy deduplication, that is their big plan.

        I know what you’re thinking, dedup is not secure, but just like Dropbox, rather better than Dropbox, Bitcasa uses Convergent Encryption, along with more techniques to not only store only one copy of each file, but thoroughly encrypt it to such an extent, that even Bitcasa can’t figure what exactly you store.

        And they’re one of the only services, who don’t give a crap about how much you store. Their focus is always on improving their front-end, features and marketing. Unlike, Carbonite or Livekive etc where there are Fair Usage policies or Throttling or limitations on the “unlimited” storage. Bitcasa doesn’t and their “amount of storage” plan is figured out. Their focus and work is somewhere else.

        They’ve received about 7 – 8 million dollars in funding. They’re not going anywhere; they’ve got their business model figured out.

        If you notice all their cons are related to the software but not related to the service per se. This is the area where they’re trying to build up on.

        As a whole I think they’re amazing, I’ve stored more than 700 gigs with them. I’m finally at peace with the huge amount of data I keep collecting!

  2. Micha says:

    During the past 2 weeks I played around with Bitcasa beta version, just to taste and get the feel of their product. Today, as Bitcasa left beta, I upgraded for the paid infinite plan.
    Bitcasa grew on me very well. The mirroring feature is not a con, as you put it in the pros and cons lists. It is a good thing, allowing much more control over changes you make in your files, bearing in mind that some of your machines with Bitcasa installed on, you share with other rascals in your family. Bitcasa also hint about full syncing feature in the future.
    Using the web site for streaming media is a delight. music and video don’t seem to pause to buffer as do so many other competitors.
    Music page is nice, functional and informative. What would a music buff need more?

    Bitcasa is now spoiling us beta users by allowing them the use of free infinite drive for the next 2 months. But then they might loose the benefit of 30% discount on the year plan, which will last only this month.
    Much to my surprise, when I paid for my discount plan, Bitcasa cut off 50% of the deal – I was charged only 49$ instead of 99$. So, there you have it.

    • Lee says:

      Thanks for thoughts on Bitcasa.

      You are correct that mirrored folders and files being read only perhaps should not be a con. The majority if backup services that offer access to your backup files are read only. It makes sense because you don’t want to access a file and then save it over top of the existing file in a backup.

      • Dheeraj says:

        I think its more like the lack of synchronization (of files not on the Infinite Drive) which is a con; mirroring, at least of now is something like a backup as you contemplated on.

        The problem is that to edit files in Bitcasa, you have to edit the files in the Infinite Drive and not the mirrored folders. But the situation this creates is that -

        (i) To access the file again – You need to go to the Infinite Drive and you can’t collaborate so easily between multiple computers – files on the Infinite Drive are online only, they’re not stored offline.

        (ii) The Infinite Drive is completely inaccessible when there’s no internet. So this further worsens the problem while collaborating on or syncing documents/files.

        Though it seems that they will introduce an offline files feature, to “pin” or “mark” the files to kept offline in the long run to overcome such disadvantages.

  3. Steven says:

    I signed up for a year. It’s a good idea. However, having your “infinite drive” be on the internet means that you are limited to the up and download speeds of the internet. At times, things get prettty slow going with Bitcasa. I checked speedtest to San Jose, where their servers are located and the results were fine, so their servers were getting slammed or something. They had no “record” of outages or problems. Go figure. I’ve opted for, therefore, for Box.com. It’s much faster and I have the data on my drive as well. I have faster access to it.

    Pros:

    Unlimited Data
    Customer service chat
    Good interface

    Cons:

    Can get really, really slow going at times. Frustrating.

  4. willemijns says:

    > I checked speedtest to San Jose, where their servers are located and the results were fine

    stop comparing by town… it depending of the datacenter, Bitcasa kind of servers cpu/memory, BW allowed and more and more !!!

  5. Dlugi says:

    Bitcasa.com is typical american crap… if they are able to change price plan in one day – from ~10$ per month to 1000E per year, they are also able to use universal keys for data encryption…

    In my opinion its one big american bs…

  6. mrs p says:

    Mac user. I treat the Bitcasa infinite virtual drive just like an attached usb drive. I generally do the software eject of any of my usb drives before I shut down my computer. I EXIT Bitcasa before I shut down my mac. No problems. I no longer let Bitcasa automatically detect or backup my external drives or any drive because I found it way way too slow. Took over my resources too much, slowed me down – became like molasses. However I have found that by hand selecting small batches of files at a time, dragging and dropping to Bitcasa‘s wonderful virtual drive, I took control back and after patiently working at it for a few days – I eventually got everything I wanted to, backed up to Bitcasa without it being so painfully slow. Do it in bite-sizes and it will work and will stop driving you crazy. ALSO – I found a way around the frustration of not being able to use spotlight to search for files on bitcasa. I bought DevonThinkPro Office 2 and I learned the hard way to NOT put everything into ONE database. Instead I learned to create several smaller databases and to keep them and use them exclusively on bitcasa. I am able to search and find files by having them loaded in DevonThinkPro Databases ON my bitcasa virtual drive. I learned I can copy and paste backups of my DTP databases to usb flash drives pretty fast by copying and pasting, while making sure NOT to have DTP open and running when I’m copying a database to hold on an external drive as a backup. I have learned to keep the files sorted in folders on Bitcasa and then copy an extra set from there to my DevonThinkPro databases. Thus the files that I place in DevonThinkPro are backed up in their original form within organized folders on Bitcasa FIRST before I dump any into DevonThinkPro. Then my DTP databases are backed up by being on both bitcasa (just one copy) and then on an external hard drive or flash drive. I learned these work arounds and secure protective measures the hard way – by making mistakes while learning to use both these products. Bless Bitcasa’s little hearts for finally giving us enough – space. UNLIMITED. I got in on the $99 per yr unlimited plan just before that window of opportunity closed. Do you realize though – that $99 per month for unlimited doesn’t just give you $10 per 1 GB as everyone was trying to do to us before I finally found bitcasa! It is giving you more like $10 per 1 TB if you were counting in terms of Terabytes. There was nobody available offering what I needed at any kind of price I could afford when I needed access in the cloud because i’m never in one place long enough to manage a bunch of networked drives. I couldn’t afford the $10 per GB prices that were out there. Bitcasa was a heaven sent answer to prayer – literally. Now what we really need badly is FASTER UPLOAD speeds offered by our ISPs!!! THANK YOU BITCASA! Thank you Thank you Thank you! You’re TERRIFIC! By the way, Bitcasa is wrong in my opinion when they say that 90+/- % of their users don’t care about space as much as just having the security of cloud backup and access everywhere. STORAGE SPACE at an affordable price as well as ACCESS are BOTH extremely important! Thanks for letting me post.

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