As demonstrated with Apple’s latest MacBook design, we’re quickly moving to a future where everything is not only wireless, but portless. Over-the-air transfers are the norm right now for smaller files whether your recipient is across the room or across the country. Try to remember the last time someone gave you a single image or document on a thumb drive. But many collaborators still rely on the sneakernet, or the use of thumb drives (or other removable media) to actually get up and move files from one computer to another.
For people working with monstrous files it would take much more time, or in fact be completely impossible to transfer them via other methods in the office. Thumb drives are still preferred by many for moving something huge to someone nearby, like HD videos, disk images, or a huge set of documents or images. It can be even more necessary to rely on the sneakernet if you’re working over less reliable and slower wifi at coffee shops and other places where people often meet to get things done. Other people may not resort to thumb drives, but still rely on hardwired solutions like eSATA or PCIe over Thunderbolt. They’re extremely fast, but require the user to be plugged in, which is a style of working that is (not so slowly) being abandoned.
Airdrop can be useful when in this situation, but it requires everyone to be on a Mac, and also doesn’t provide good organizational tools – you have to manually move every airdropped file to where you want it. It’s good for one-time uses, but it doesn’t fit into existing workflows or accepted methods for sharing and moving files around. It’s simply not a replacement for thumb drives and sneakernet habits.
It’s about security as much as convenience
This isn’t just about working efficiently. For example, USB exploits continue to get more sophisticated, and plugging anything directly into one of your devices is becoming taboo. Scrambling around for a thumb drive isn’t just a hassle, it’s now a security threat as well. Ensuring that everyone in your office, or everyone you work with has the means to make fast, secure transfers will soon be a requirement for responsible collaboration and sharing.
Buying lots of dongles is at best a stopgap solution. The world is moving to wireless transfers, and for many of us it can’t happen fast enough, as long as there’s a good option that makes it fast and easy. And that’s the whole reason we built BitTorrent Sync. It isn’t just a cool product for making transfers more secure, it’s the future of helping people easily transfer massive files at lightning speeds by simply using the networks (wifi or LAN) they’re already connected to. It works with your file structures as they are, and works equally well across all devices and platforms. For the same price as the new dongle you’ll need (that someone will inevitably steal off your desk within a week) you could afford two Sync Pro licenses and upgrade yourself and a friend.
A portless future is coming, and now is the time to start adopting technologies that will ease the transition, and actually improve your efficiency and security at the same time.
Image: flickr / Custom USB