Remote torrent downloading / caching service Btaccel.com is opening up its service for a so-called controlled alpha test. Btaccel essentially offers a basic hosted torrent client, making it possible to download data from torrent sites onto the company's servers and then access it with any regular browser.

screenshot of btaccel.com

This isn't exactly a new idea. Many of the so-called seedbox providers are offering similar services for monthly fees, usually in combination with the PHP Bittorrent client Torentflux. Services like Furk.net and the Imageshack torrent downloader have also been experimenting with their own interfaces.

However, Btaccel seems to play in a leage of its own. I've had a chance to play with the service a bit today, and I must say I'm really impressed. Btaccel's interface is reduced to the bare essentials, and it just hits the sweet spot when it comes to ease of use.

screenshot of btaccel.com

Just enter a torrent URL into Btaccel's form field, and it automatically queues up for download onto the Btaccel servers. The waiting time before it actually starts up depends both on your account level (Btaccel is open for both free, registered as well as unregistered users, and premium service levels are apparently in the works) and on the actual server load, but I found that downloads would start after a few minutes max even when not logged in.

Just leave it open in the background - and you might even miss the actual download. Btaccel's servers are currently really, really fast. I was able to get transfer rates of up to 5100 KB/s for well-seeded torrents when downloading to the Btaccel servers.

screenshot of btaccel.com

Transfer rates should be even better for content that already has been requested by other BTaccel users because the service essentially acts as a proxy. HTTP download rates for the files, which are automatically zipped, were high enough to max out my admittedly pretty average DSL connection.

Also neat: Btaccel can be used as a web proxy server for any torrent site. Just use an url like http://proxy.btaccel.com/beta.legaltorrents.com, and any torrent from that site will automatically be downloaded to Btaccel.

It's exactly those clever features that make Btaccel so enjoyable. Of course, some users might be wary of any service that could potentially log their Bittorrent downloads. I don't really want to weigh in on this question, but one should note that Btaccel is run by a California-based company called Acceleration Labs, and the site does have a privacy policy, which is more than you can say about Rapidshare, for example.

I'm also not really sure how sustainable a service like this one is in the long run, but I was able to get a few more infos about Btaccel's current set-up. A company representative told me that Btaccel is both based on cloud services provided by Rackspace as well as its own hardware. The service currently has 500mbps of bandwidth available, according to company information.

Curious to test it our yourself? Well, you're lucky. I was able to secure 100 invites for readers of this blog. Just enter the invite code "p2p100" here, and you're set up for a free account with 100 GB of bandwidth. And please let me know how you like it.

Update (05/14): The invite code should work for another 250 invites. Check this article for details and updates.

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