BitTorrent Sync has hit the 1-million-user milestone as it tries to steer people away from centralized cloud storage options like Dropbox.

The service, which debuted in January , lets users sync photos and files across devices without relying on remote servers. Instead of storing files up in the cloud, BitTorrent Sync uses peer-to-peer file transfers, securing files through private encryption keys. BitTorrent says no one else is able to see your files while they are being transferred.

For most users, the main advantage of BitTorrent Sync is that it’s free. If you just want to back up your smartphone’s photos to your computer, BitTorrent Sync can do it automatically, and you won’t run into the storage limits you get with cloud services. You’re only limited by how much space is on your computer’s hard drive. BitTorrent also notes that the company cannot hand over your personal data to the government, alluding to the recent NSA spying scandals.

New features

To coincide with the milestone, BitTorrent announced some new features. Sync now runs faster, with speeds as high as 90 MB/s on a local network. BitTorrent has also updated its iOS app with iPad support, iOS 7 compatibility, and the ability to sync photos from your computer to the iPhone or iPad camera roll. Other apps can send and sync files with BitTorrent Sync as well.

Meanwhile, BitTorrent looks to expand its reach with the BitTorrent Sync Beta API . BitTorrent says it will allow developers to create “distributed social media, communications, and enterprise apps on top of the platform.” In one example, a social network operates without centralized servers and lets friends connect by exchanging private keys. Another example shows how to deploy a website using BitTorrent Sync.

It’s an interesting change in strategy for a company that’s commonly associated with illicit file sharing, and 1-million users in less than a year suggests that the service is resonating. It’s worth a try if you’re looking to keep files in sync without worrying about storage limits.

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