Is Peer to Peer the Future of File Sharing? Maybe.

While peer-to-peer file sharing may have gained traction via the attention received by a few startups, is the technology really secure enough for MSPs to offer to their customers?

June 13, 2014

5 Min Read
Is Peer to Peer the Future of File Sharing? Maybe.

By Michael Brown 1

Amidst the cloud computing revolution, peer-to-peer file sharing is beginning to gain momentum as well.  TechCrunch has recently cast the spotlight on a small company, Infinit, who is involved in this new trend.

“We see that a lot of our users share huge files,” said co-founder and COO Baptiste Fradin in the above article, “And a lot of people managed to digitize processes that were still physical. For example, in video post-production, you had to hire a delivery person to ship a hard drive — now you can use Infinit.”

While this may be a good fit for personal use, is it a good fit for a business and MSPs?

It is Fast and Easy

With peer-to-peer file sharing, sending files to someone else can be very simple.  Users are able to send a file directly to someone else, through the sharing application or by creating a direct link to download the file.

This direct transfer bypasses the cloud, therefore eliminating the need to store information in massive servers and reducing cost. The cloud is easy, but this may be even easier to quickly get files to coworkers, friends or family. Speed and simplicity are two factors that clients of MSPs are always looking for in file sharing applications.

Best Way to Transfer Massive Files

Thanks to the nature of peer-to-peer sharing, massive files can easily be transferred directly from computer to computer, and can even be paused and resumed as needed.  “An Australian post-production studio recently sent a 500GB file in just 32 minutes using Infinit — it didn’t cost a dime.”

Entertainment industry professionals are among the group that consistently needs to transfer huge files and therefore will enjoy the benefits of peer to peer file transferring. This type of sharing could become the accepted method of file transfer for certain large data industries.

How Secure Is Peer to Peer?

Because peer to peer involves multitudes of computers, how secure is the network? Services encrypt the file being transferred, but it still leaves me to wonder truly how secure all the information would be if it were being sent to and from hundreds of computers throughout a large organization, like many MSP’s clients. There is that old adage “Only as strong as your weakest link”…

Perhaps the peer-to-peer model just needs a bit more evolution to be more convincing in the security department, but for now I’d imagine most MSPs would tread cautiously with peer-to-peer security if their client’s data is very sensitive. More traditional cloud file sharing providers have a much more proven record of security (they’ve simply been around longer).

Collaborating on a Document is a Bit More Tedious

With a peer-to-peer file sharing model, users would have to send the same document back and forth to each other.  This results in a greater chance that one could lose track of which file is the most recent one, or multiple people could simultaneously be working on out-of-date files. 

For clients that collaborate on documents frequently, where time is vital, a more traditional file sharing where a central document can be edited in real time by many people may be the best option.  This will keep everyone on the same page, avoiding wasted time on older files and accidentally doubling up on work effort.

It will be interesting to see where peer-to-peer file sharing will go in the future.  There are of course pros and cons to the model (as there are with anything) and the applications definitely provide some great advantages in the right scenarios.

It could be the MSPs simply have another option for the file transferring needs of their clients, and as always, options are a good thing to have. What is your opinion on peer to peer file sharing in the corporate world? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.

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