UPDATED: The iTwin bypasses the virtual world of cloud services to turn your physical storage into its own networking solution.
This simple solution to remote file access between computers is made up of two USB keys that notch together as a double-ended USB stick. The software is housed in the sticks themselves, so the iTwin is practically plug-and-play on any Windows machine. Forget cloud hosting or remote servers, the iTwin creates its own server through your internet connection with your data housed solely on your computers.
The two ends of the iTwin come connected and are initially plugged into a computer to install and register the product. From here, the other end is unplugged and slotted into any other Windows machine with a broadband connection, installed and ready to use. A simulated drive is created that files can be drag-and-dropped into to be accessed between the two connected computers. As the physical storage is all held in the computer’s hard drive rather than somewhere online or on the USB sticks, this drive acts as a simple directory to wherever the files or folders inserted are actually saved.
The iTwin is an attractive option for networking, even physically. The sleek unit comes in a metallic, charcoal colour or lime green, adorned by a blue light on each side to indicate connection and the iTwin logo. The edges are rounded, and the solidly-built units clip smoothly together at the ends. The packaging comes with a simple step-by-step guide that boils this unit down to its base functionality as simply as possible. In other words, anyone can use the iTwin without a lick of tech-savvy.
The iTwin requires a broadband connection on both ends, and with this can achieve transfer speeds over 3MBps – easily quick enough to instantaneously transfer large documents and images, and still fast for larger media. On each computer, the file transfer is split up into two folders – the local and the remote. Local files are thrown into the local storage folder to be found on the other computer’s remote folder, and vice versa. Being able to see what files are on your main computer and which are stored elsewhere is a particularly handy additive as opposed to sharing one big folder of mixed files stored natively and elsewhere.
AES 256-bit encryption adds typical security to the file transfers on the iTwin, but needing the have the physical USB sticks connected adds an extra element to security. In the event of losing one or both keys, users can also remotely disable the keys through a code emailed when first registering the product.
With the installed side of the iTwin attached to your main computer (like your home PC, for instance), you’ll need your PC to be constantly on and connected to the internet to be able to access your files remotely from other computers. It’s also limited to Windows and Mac machines, so forget using Android devices with USB ports – browser-based cloud solutions take the lead on this point.
Unlike Google Docs, you’re never aware of when a shared file is being accessed on two separate computers until you each save the edited file, so if you were to be updating a Word document at home aat the same time as someone else abroad, whoever saves and closes the document last would have a notice telling them the document were modified and that they should rename and save the file separately. It’s not the safest bet for sharing and editing documents on the fly between people, instead working best as a mobile solution for a single user accessing important files away from home.
If you’re looking for a secure system for remote file access that you can take with you wherever you go, but have the nagging anxiety over storing sensitive data on cloud servers, then the iTwin is a safe bet. It has its limitations, but this single-function unit is an original and effective alternative to cloud services thanks to its physical element, yet with the perk of holding no physical storage in itself. For a single fee, the iTwin is a hybrid service/product to rival conventional methods of file sharing and storage.