Start-up Bitcasa invites you to shove all your data into the cloud and use your hard drive as a cache. It's offering infinite storage capacity, it says, for 10 bucks a month. Really.
Bitcasa says it is different from Nirvanix, Mozy and others because it is not a cloud-based backup company. It's different from Dropbox because it is not a file-sharing cloud facility. It is not online storage like Amazon's service and others because there is no icon for the Bitcasa cloud on your desktop.
Instead, any content you create or import gets sent up to the Bitcasa cloud automatically. It is sent as a stream of encrypted binary data with Bitcasa knowing nothing much, it says, about files and folders. Bitcasa carries out data deduplication and stripes your bytes across multiple hard drives. If you have copies of files then only one gets stored. If you have duplicated parts of files, like slides in PowerPoint decks, then only one slide gets stored.
If 20 other clients of Bitcasa have the same slide then only one copy of the slide gets stored. Deduplication – that's how the company says it can afford to offer all-you-can-eat storage in the cloud for ten bucks a month. How long it stays that way is anybody's guess.
Your hard drive caches copies of your most active data so you can work offline. If you are online then copies of your data are streamed to you. You can share files with other people by giving them a Bitcasa-based URL.
TechCrunch is blowing Bitcasa's trumpet and CrunchFund is a Bitcasa investor. Make of that what you will.
You can sign up for the Bitcasa beta here. ®