iTwin is a clever dongle-based, password-free online file sharing service
iTwin is an online file sharing service with a twist that will appeal to people who frequently forget their passwords. Unlike online storage services such as Dropbox, iTwin doesn’t rely on a remote server farm to store your files and a password-protected web interface or software package to access them.
Instead, iTwin consists of a pair of identical USB dongles – plug each one into a different internet-connected PC or Mac and install the included drivers. Each computer than has a pair of virtual disks accessible from within your file manager – Local Files and Remote Files. Any files copied to the Local Files disk on one computer can then be accessed from the other computer through its Remote Files disk and vice versa. This connection works as long as each computer has its iTwin dongle connected.
In our tests, iTwin’s file sharing worked well over home ADSL connections but, as expected, it didn’t work with the corporate network in the Shopper Labs. Bear in mind that ADSL connections have much slower upload than download speeds – transferring large files over a 0.2Mbit/s upload connection will take a very long time indeed. Some connections, however, have speeds of 1Mbit/s or more, and Virgin’s XXL package promises uploads of up to 5Mbit/s.
Although iTwin requires both computers to be connected to the internet, files are encrypted and transferred directly between the two computers. Files will only be stored on iTwin’s relay servers temporarily in the case of adverse network conditions. Since iTwin relies on your computers, and not a remote server farm, to store files there’s no storage limit as with Dropbox. The only limit to the number of files you can share is the size of the hard disk on each computer.
If an iTwin dongle is ever lost, simply disconnect the other dongle to prevent unauthorised access to your files. You can also guard against any unauthorised data access by setting a password on the iTwin – this means you can only access files with both the dongle and password. This password can also be used to disable a lost dongle remotely and replacement dongles can be ordered directly from iTwin for €50 each (approximately £45).
iTwin won’t suit everyone. It doesn’t work with Linux or any smartphone/tablet operating systems. It also won’t work if you want to share files between more than two computers at once. Still, if you can live with these limitations and you’re concerned about privacy and not having another set of passwords to remember then iTwin is a good alternative to more conventional online storage and remote access services.