BitTorrent Sync Speed Test: Over 16 Times Faster Than The Cloud

We built Sync to help people move files of any size with the speed and security that can only be delivered with a cloud-free product. We ran a test to see just how fast Sync runs compared to cloud-based services in the market. Now we’re unveiling the results.

Week after week we’ve heard our users talk about speed; whether it’s an event planning company sending large audio/video files to clients, a graphic design agency in Europe sharing big Photoshop files between remote offices, or an IT team at a company like Angie’s List that reduced their Web deployment time from hours to seconds, they’ve shown us that Sync has been working as intended.

Sync is fast and it gets its speed from the BitTorrent protocol on which it is built, taking the shortest and fastest path when getting file pieces from one device to another. It leverages the full performance of a local network and goes directly between peers when crossing networks, without having to route everything through the cloud (and eliminates the need for central servers).

We knew we were fast, but we thought it would be interesting to see just how fast Sync is in head-to-head competition. So we ran a test comparing Sync against cloud-based services in the market. The results are below, as well as a detailed view of the methodology behind the test.

The Sync Speed Test

For this test, the file we used was a 1.36GB MP4 video clip from a Canon 5D Mark III  camera. We measured total time to send and receive the file using BitTorrent Sync, Dropbox, One Drive, and Google Drive.

The test environment consisted of:

  • 2 Apple MacBook Pros
  • 2 Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapters
  • WiFi turned OFF
  • for a real-time clock
  • BitTorrent Inc. Headquarters Internet Connection – 1 Gbps up/down

Our tests were conducted over local LAN – on the same switch – in order to rule out available bandwidth as a limiting factor.  It’s important here to note that Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive all rate-limit uploads and do not fully utilize the 1 Gbps bandwidth available (in regards to the office Internet connection, not the LAN switched). We’re confident that a slower Internet connection would yield similar results.

The test timer started when the MP4 file transfer was initiated and then stopped once the file was fully synced and downloaded onto the receiving machine.

For all services we tested, we ran three tests at various times during the day here in San Francisco. We wanted to maintain fairness and to account for internet congestion so our tests were run in the AM at the start of the workday, in the afternoon, and once again late in the evening when the office was mostly empty and internet use was at a minimum.  We then took the average of the three times.

The results impressed even us:

BitTorrent Sync Speed Test

As the graphic indicates, the 1.36GB video file took BitTorrent Sync 41 seconds to transfer between two laptops. The time it took for Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive to transfer the same file are presented as comparison.

Sync performed 8x faster than Google Drive, 11x faster than OneDrive and 16x faster than Dropbox.

In The Interest of Full Disclosure: On the speed test, we encountered a few irregularities during testing that should be mentioned. Dropbox has a deduplication scheme in place – what this meant for our tests is that even though we deleted the video file from our Dropbox folder, traces of it still remained and Dropbox got ~50% faster at transferring the same video file each subsequent time we uploaded it.  To correct for this, we needed a new file that wasn’t bit-for-bit identical to the video file we previously transferred.  This was accomplished by firing up the terminal and running:

~$ dd bs=1024 count=1360000000 </dev/urandom >SpeedTestFile1

Once we re-tested Dropbox with new random files of the same size, consistent results were achieved.  We tested Sync using these same randomly-generated files to ensure the controls for the testing were consistent and fair.

For Microsoft’s OneDrive, we were unable to “sync” files and therefore in order to measure total time for upload/download, we would measure the time to upload the file, pause the stopwatch, then measure the time to download the file.

Image: Flickr/Charles Barilleaux

Aaron Liao
Written by: Aaron Liao

Aaron Liao is a Developer Evangelist at BitTorrent

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  • Guest

    Awesome! I’m a huge BitTorrent Sync fan and use it on Windows, Linux, and Android. That said, did you use your competitors’ apps, or their websites?

    • Aaron Liao

      Thank you! We installed and used the apps for Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive.

  • Gordon

    Fuck yeah

    • Aaron Liao

      Thumbs up

  • Shragi

    I’m curious how it compares to SugarSync, but even without the official numbers I already see a huge difference.

    • Aaron Liao

      I’m curious as well Shragi – we didn’t test SugarSync because they didn’t have a free option (other than the 30-day eval) at the time. Do you use SugarSync currently?

      • Shragi

        I do.
        As a matter of fact I am very unhappy with SugarSync (as I believe I mentioned in another comment). They used to have a free option while they were in beta, or whatever, and during that time I bombarded my family and friends with invites to SugarSync so that I’d earn more storage. Then about a half year ago they announced that they’re shutting down all free accounts, of course you could “rescue” your free storage by signing up for a paid account, in which case alongside the storage you paid for you’d get to keep the free storage you earned.

        Anyways, if you want to use my account to test it, let’s be in touch.

        • Aaron Liao

          Bummer about the free option going away! I think I know how a head-to-head against SugarSync will go, but data doesn’t lie and having some numbers to back things up would be nice, so lets see if what we can do. Thanks for the offer to help out – I’m aaron [at] bittorrent [dot] com – shoot me an email?

  • Mathias Rhein

    It would be nice if you can test about small files >= 200000 my problem is sync my src directory too which i currently exclude(and done with git) let drop the speed to 5 to 19 kb/s but even over wlan i can sync about ~3,9 MB/s on big files. Maybe more simultaneously connection could aware of this bottle neck maybe something like automated spawn of connection demand on file size.

    My current sync setup is local network 3 clients 1 server remote v-server (vultr storage plan with 1gb ram cause 512mb is not enough) mean private extreme fast sync for 6,4€ per month.

    You done a good job!

    • Aaron Liao

      Great suggestion – thanks Mathias. I will see if we can set up some tests with small files.

  • Lana Sanders Butler

    I have two dell computers that are on the same network. I would like to back up Computer a to Computer B. Is there any hardware that i need and how do i accomplish this. Thanks.

  • Martin Cook

    Good Stuff