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Gridsync - a new graphical user interface (GUI) to S4 - coming soon!

Anamika Ved on May 31, 2017

Gridsync

We’re excited to announce that very soon we are launching a new enhancement to our Simple Secure Storage Service (S4) - “Gridsync” - a new cross-platform desktop application which provides a graphical user interface (GUI) to S4 and is easier to use than Tahoe-LAFS command line interface (CLI).

Least Authority’s goal is to build an affordable, ethical, usable, and lasting data storage solution and to let the control of the data stay where it belongs - in the hands of the user. So we work on features that will make our products accessible and easy for everyone. Our Simple Secure Storage Service (S4) is an Amazon S3-based application of Tahoe-LAFS, or the Least Authority File Store. Tahoe-LAFS provides highly secure and resilient cloud storage but it is difficult to install, configure, and use, especially for non-technical users.

With Gridsync you will be able to enjoy the benefits of our Simple Secure Storage Service (S4) even if you are a non-techie. You get Tahoe-LAFS' excellent security model - decentralized, fault tolerant data storage - with features such as:

  • Easy installation
  • Simplified setup/configuration
  • Strong cross-platform support (Windows, Mac, Linux)
  • A familiar graphical user interface
  • Drag-and-drop creation of magic-folders

A look at how Gridsync improves S4 / Tahoe-LAFS

S4, Amazon S3-based application of Tahoe-LAFS Without Gridsync With Gridsync
Secure, Decentralized, Fault tolerant data storage
Easy installation
Simplified configuration
Strong cross-platform support (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Graphical user interface (GUI)
Command line interface (CLI)
Users Developers, System administrators or anyone familiar with CLI. Anyone who is familiar with using computers

The Gridsync application will make Tahoe-LAFS setup process extremely simple and syncing your files using Magic Folders as easy as drag-and-drop.

The Gridsync story: How did we get here?

The project “Gridsync” was started with the goal to make secure, distributed cloud storage easy-to-understand, easy-to-use and accessible to everyone especially non-technical users. Chris Wood, the author of Gridsync realized that Tahoe-LAFS has unique features that set it apart from other distributed storage systems.

Tahoe-LAFS is an open source cloud-based storage system, which distributes user data over multiple servers. However, unlike other services, Tahoe is built with provider-independent security. All user data is encrypted in such a way that the service provider cannot access it, guaranteeing that the user’s privacy is respected.

Dropbox, Google, OneDrive, and almost every other cloud provider design their systems in such a way that they can read every byte of their users’ data but Tahoe-LAFS designs a system that utilizes cryptography such that data can be read only by the user who uploads it and by a person/persons, the user chooses to share it with. Thus with Tahoe-LAFS, you do not depend on the server to maintain confidentiality and integrity. You only depend on some of the servers to maintain availability.

Although Tahoe-LAFS is very well designed and powerful in its ability to ensure that the user’s privacy and security is preserved both in transit and at rest, it is a fairly complicated file system - primarily geared for a tech savvy audience. Its users had been mainly seasoned developers and system administrators because using Tahoe-LAFS requires:

  • Compiling from source code
  • Editing configuration files by hand
  • Performing operations via command-line
  • Reading lots of documentation

With a user interface that is predominantly text-based, Chris found Tahoe-LAFS too technical and overwhelming for non-technical users. So he partnered up with Least Authority to build a GUI on top of Tahoe-LAFS that would overcome the aforementioned barriers and enhance its efficiency and ease of use for most users to adopt.

The result is “Gridsync”- easy to install, configure and use for everyone- to be released very soon. It is worth mentioning here that a part of the work on Gridsync project was funded by Internews' USABLE tools initiative.

We have followed an iterative approach to make Gridsync more user-friendly. We worked with other organizations like Simply Secure to conduct user-testing throughout development. We did usability testing, during events like Internet Freedom Festival, Valencia Spain, and Rightscon, Brussels and made changes/improvements based on the feedback. If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions please send them our way at contactus@leastauthority.com.

Gridsync will make secure, distributed cloud storage easier, simpler and more awesome for you. So stay tuned and be prepared to sign up for our new, upgraded S4 with Gridsync soon.