iTwin USB Wireless File Sharing Stick Goes On Sale

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News Posted: Fri, Dec 17 2010 9:21 AM
For whatever reason, file sharing is just difficult in many ways. Either your flash drive is too small, or your network is too slow. It just seems like there's no "good way" to reliability get files from one PC to another when you need them there the most. Many companies have created new and interesting solutions to an old problem, but we're still on the hunt for that perfect fix. The iTwin definitely has potential to be "the one."

The company's self-named product has been released this week in limited quantities, consisting of two identical parts that look just like a USB thumb drive. Each half of the iTwin is plugged into the USB ports of any two online computers a user wishes to share. With the launch, this marks the first time this unit has gone on sale in the U.S. but they're only available in limited quantities for the holidays.


The devices use 256-bit AES encryption to keep transfers secure, and only the two halves of iTwin know the key, and iTwin generates a new key every time the two halves are paired. If one half of the iTwin is lost, the connection between the two halves can be disabled, therefore denying access. As an additional layer of security, the iTwin can also be password protected. It remains to be seen if this file transfer device is on par with some others that have come out this year, but unlike rivals, it doesn't purport to offer media streaming. This one's for transfers only, not content.

Only 50 of the special edition MMX iTwins are available for purchase for $99 USD exclusively from the iTwin store at http://www.itwin.com/buy_itwin.php. General availability will follow in January 2011 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Dec 17 2010 2:26 PM

Finally, a product for people who can't spend 5 minutes to configure their wireless networking or plug in a crossover cable.

Obviously, either I don't understand the product or it's a horrible idea that would better be addressed by a software solution.

Update:  The article title is misleading.  These aren't wireless devices.  Well, they're wireless in the same sense your pants are wireless... that is to say that they have nothing to do with wireless technology.  The  computers have to be connected to the internet via some other means to use these.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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Inspector replied on Fri, Dec 17 2010 9:13 PM

So this thing will help with transferring files? Its pretty neat, now people don't need to find a way to transfer files when they are in another place :)

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3vi1 replied on Sat, Dec 18 2010 3:33 PM

I guess the problem I have with it is they're trying to sell you hardware you don't need. You can already do this with software based solutions. They make this appear as if it's a hardware only solution, but you have to install software to use it.

Most people would be better off using Dropbox for free. For the remaining few, there are solutions like SSHFS.

They use a lot of business examples on their website. This would *never* be allowed in a secure business environment, and will probably be blocked at your proxy by the sysadmin the first time he notes a large outbound transfer via https.  I'm assuming this device tunnels everything through iTwins systems, otherwise they'll find it most certainly will *not* work in a serious business environment (where you have proxy servers in a DMZ, and no direct connections from the interior to the internet can be made).  On top of that, at the places I've worked, normal users don't have the authority required to install any software  - and this likely needs a device driver to do it's work.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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3vi1 replied on Sat, Dec 18 2010 4:04 PM

Since there's no monthly fee (that I've seen), I'm beginning to question whether these actually work in that manner.  Again, if these rely solely on UPNP to open listening ports in firewalls, they most certainly won't work in any real business environment (making their claims on the website overblown).

If they *do* rely on an intermediate system, these will be junk when iTwin goes out of business... which I'm sure they would paying for all the bandwidth necessary to support these devices that appear to be sold for a one-time-fee.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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@ 3vi1: I can confirm that you misunderstand the product and your assumptions are mostly wrong. Visit the iTwin website for source details. Your skepticism is understandable, because the iTwin is such a simple, effective device that it almost defies belief. Skepticism such as yours is probably the greatest adoption obstacle the new product faces.

The iTwin is true plug & play, usable by novices and techies alike. It requires no software, no drivers, no configuration, is not blocked by firewalls (etc.), and is military-grade secure. The iTwin is not a wireless device (thankfully). It does not use Bluetooth (or whatever). It just uses the web. It works flawlessly - it is not a beta-stage test product in development.

The iTwin enables a user to access files on the hard drive of a web-connected source computer (usually a home or office computer), from any other web-connected computer anywhere, at which the user just shows up randomly and just plugs in the other half of the iTwin, with no other steps or processes.

Example: Plug iTwin into your office computer. Identify (flag for sharing) files to which you want access from elsewhere. Separate the two halves of the stick. Fly to India (or wherever) with the back half of the stick, leaving the front half in the USB port in the source computer. Go to your client meeting or to a web café. Plug the back half of the iTwin into that random other web-connected computer. You’re now (effectively) at source, with secure, read-and-write access to (share-enabled) *originals* of your source files. Among other conveniences, you don’t need to bring your source laptop on a trip (and have you flown lately? “Oh what fun.”)

iTwin is not a USB, has no memory in the USB sense, and stores no files.  iTwin provides a connection, not memory.  The connection is by web, not through or across iTwin servers (they don't exist, or at least, not in this context). The connection is secure and private (iTwin knows your device is active, but that’s all).

Software based solutions require software to be installed on both computers. That works well when you have admin access to a closed system of computers and a staff of employees to install and maintain software across the system. You don’t need to install and maintain iTwin, or have admin access to the “other” computer. You don't need a login and password for iTwin (though you can enable one, it remains quite secure without one) so there is nothing to forget.

The cloud requires you to make copies of files to the cloud, creating a version control issue, and also requires a download you might or might not have permission to make on the “other” computer. There can also be subscription fees. Finally, you’ve given copies of all your sensitive files to the cloud, and you only have access to copies of files you put there.

USB sticks have memory limits, create a version control issue, and can be lost. When a USB is lost, sensitive data is also insecurely, and irretrievably, lost. When the iTwin is lost, no data is lost, because no data can be stored on iTwin. The iTwin can be remotely disabled online.

The iTwin is not a full remote control device…but a user doesn’t usually need full remote control. And, if you want, you can use iTwin to move your source files from source onto the new computer (though you don't really need to).

One correct assumption you make is that both computers must be switched on and web-connected. Most computers are both when in use. Many users leave their computers on constantly. The iTwin also only works in computer pairs, though pair functionality is full while a multi-share version is in the works.  Also, as of now, it is Windows only (and "modern" Windows only), but a Mac version is also in the works.

I personally plan to buy the iTwin (USD 99) just to have access to my home or work computer while traveling.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Apr 1 2011 7:10 PM

Dear iTwin Employed Astroturfer,

>> is not blocked by firewalls (etc.),

From the iTwin FAQ:  "iTwin works through firewalls except when they are setup to allow traffic only to pre-defined, white-listed sites and services. In such a case, iTwin would not work,"

Does anyone at your company there know how actual corporations set up their firewalls and networks?  I do (it for a living).

Every company in the world with a semblance of security should run an HTTP proxy server and not allow direct connections from the business network to the Internet (nor vice versa).  Nothing internal should talk to anything not in the trusted DMZ, and nothing external should talk to anything but the servers in the untrusted DMZ. 

Therefore, I don't expect this product to work for a large amount of corporate consumers, despite your hyperbolic claims.

>> I personally plan to buy the iTwin (USD 99) just to have access to my home or work computer while traveling.

Righhhhhht.  Nice quoting of the price there, astroturfer!  I would suggest setting up a dynamic DNS updater and running an SSH daemon (USD $0) instead.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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