French new media start-up Zslide is launching the private beta of a free Bittorent-powered file hosting service called Vipeers today. Vipeers is in part based on Zslide's private P2P service Podmailing, which combines server-based file hosting with Bittorent distribution. Vipers however goes one step further, offering unlimited downloads via Bittorrent and HTTP.

I was able to test Vipeers during the last few days and must say that it is a really attractive service, especially compared to one-click-hosters like Rapidshare and Megaupload. Users do have to register for an account first, and the current private beta phase also requires an invitation code. Readers of this blog can use the code P2PBLOG66 to register.

pic of vipeers uploader

Vipeers uses a Java-based uploader to transfer your files to the company's servers, which makes it possible to resume uploads in case you accidentally close your browser or your Internet connection is interrupted. You can also use a new version of the Podmailing client to upload your files, which among other things offers the ability to upload whole directories at once.

The service automatically generates a torrent file and all the necessary links once your file is completely uploaded. Users not only get a direct download link to the torrent file, but also the link to a generic landing page as well as various buttons for blogs and social networks.

pic of vipeers links

The Vipeers landing page gives users the ability to either download a file straight through their browser, or via Bittorrent or Podmailing. Check out the landing page I did for a Creative Commons-licensed copy of my (German language) book Mix Burn & R.I.P. by clicking on the blog button below:

File sharing & torrents by VIPeers

One interesting aspect about Vipeers is that it is completely based on Amazon's S3 and EC2 architecture. Download a torrent from Vipeers, and you're actually using an Amazon EC2 server as a tracker and an S3 server as a super-sized seed box. That's especially great for content that isn't insanely popular. Rare torrents that would die quickly on regular torrent sites are sustainable on Vipeers because Amazon always offers a seed from its servers.

Amazon's infrastructure is also pretty cheap, especially when it comes to the initial costs of scaling your infrastructure. But of course it's not completely free, and serving huge files is going to cost you eventually, even if you use P2P to offset some of the costs. One-click-hosters like Rapidshare have proven that you can make money with file hosting, but they make users jump through painful hoops in order to optimize ad revenue.

Vipeers wants to take a different route. The service doesn't feature any ads at all, and it doesn't make you wait and stare at obnoxious count-downs until you can download your files. Zslide's Louis Choquel explained that his company instead eventually wants to offer premium services. He told me that Vipeers is still working out the details, but mentioned some examples: "Limits on the volume of data you can store at any given time, limit on hosting duration and the possibility to download faster. This makes sense and it is fair to our users", he told me.

So how about he legal side of the service? One-click-hoster Rapidshare has been struggling with court defeats lately, and video hosters like Youtube have found themselves in court because of the uploads of their users as well. "I am not saying that running a file sharing / Bittorrent / P2P service like Vipeers is going to be an easy ride", acknowledged Choquel. "But I think it is worth it. Making it easy with Vipeers to share using Bittorrent is our modest contribution to the Internet. I believe in technology and progress, so I think that a little controversy should not stop us. We are building the future of media and knowledge distribution."

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