SyncNet is a decentralized web browser that uses BitTorrent Sync

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 29, 2014

When you connect to a website or service on today's Internet, connections to servers hosting site contents are established. If a server is not available at the time, some part of a website or all of it may not be displayed in the program you are using.

While there are some options to grab the data anyway, caching for instance, you would still rely on a limited amount of servers and companies to deliver those contents to you.

Torrents on the other hand work in a different way. While they are seeded initially by one user or  a group of users, the data is made available by downloaders as well, so that the pool of potential content distributors increases with every user downloading files from a torrent.

The basic idea behind SyncNet is to introduce a web browser that uses a similar system when it comes to making available web contents.

Whenever you access a website using the browser, it is stored in its entirety on the local system. The next user who accesses the website will download it from the original server and you.

The more users access a resource, the more it is spread across machines and devices, and the less likely it is that it will become unavailable.


A side-effect of this is that it will decrease the load on the original server.

There are caveats however as the author mentions. One of the biggest issues is the loading time of websites. When you load a website the "normal way" in a web browser of choice, it takes no more than seconds usually to download, render and display it on the local system.

SyncNet in its current state downloads all files for a requested site according to the author. He has plans to improve that behavior though to speed this up in future releases.

Another issue is that only static contents are supported. While that ensures that many websites can be accessed using the browser, dynamic ones cannot be or only partially.

The method to make a new site available is also less than ideal. You need to add a directory of HTML files to Bittorrent Sync. The author has plans however to change that to make current websites available via the browser.

Last but not least, SyncNet is only available as source code and not a binary that you can run on your system.


SyncNet is an experiment more than it is something that many users will start to use soon. It may be the way to go forward on the other hand, with more and more countries starting to censor Internet resources and service providers trying to undercut net neutrality to make a quick buck.

What's your take on Internet decentralization? Know of any other projects that aim for it?

SyncNet is a decentralized web browser that uses BitTorrent Sync
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SyncNet is a decentralized web browser that uses BitTorrent Sync
SyncNet uses the data synchronization client BitTorrent Sync to make available website contents to all users who use the browser.

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  1. kimcosmos said on October 27, 2015 at 5:46 am

    It is exactly what we need in rural philippines. People have common interests and are going on and offline regularly. I have to walk to the main road to get internet. Yet most people have smart phones. Also after a disaster this would be great with IM mesh messaging tools. People would be more willing to pay for a basic cell up a pole with a solar charger if its range was extended through the social mesh and the social cache. Especially once people start sharing folders of previous downloads – which will happen fast
    Of course its most important because data speed is slooooowwwww in the province and unreliable and expensive. We have never got them onto a mesh because someone will be paying for everyone elses data – this solves that with torrents TFT leech throttling.
    Villagers are small clusters of barely 3G isolated users and make up 60+ million users – and they are smart phone mad – can’t get enough

  2. stone said on July 29, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    is it yacy-like solution? or or even that’s all great ideas but I don’t think it will ever beat google :(

  3. JohnMWhite said on July 29, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding something because this seems too obvious an issue to have not been brought up but… wouldn’t people wind up flooding their harddrives really quickly? Or is the idea here not to have a secondary Internet downloaded and distributed to people’s machines but to provide backup for very select information (presumably mostly text) that may be difficult to access via normal channels? If it’s the latter, I suppose it would be useful to have a huge number of distribution points rather than a single server that can get blocked, seized or shut down.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      I suppose a “clear old data” option would come in handy at one point, or an option to limit the data.

      1. zentaurus21 said on July 31, 2014 at 4:44 am

        sort of agree with john here. torrent is good for archived and static files but probably not fit for dynamic web content.

        having a data cap would somehow nullify the intent too, wouldn’t it?

        but maybe, in the future, when gigantic SSDs can be had for a pittance?


      2. JohnMWhite said on July 29, 2014 at 10:58 pm

        Sure, that’ll come in handy for individual users, but once they clear it they are no longer contributing that data to the torrent. Won’t that result in only the latest/most popular content being picked up and propagated? It doesn’t seem like it would preserve much in the long term.

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