With 2013 behind us and Cyphertite’s birthday fast approaching I have been reflecting on many things that have been reported on in the media over the past year. Google Glass was released – and banned in many places because of privacy concerns, PRISM was revealed by Edward Snowden when he exposed US classified documents, Bitcoin and other crypto currencies are catching on, and the recent security breach of Target‘s credit card system all remind me that personal privacy and security are more important than ever.
Cyphertite will be 2 years old next month and we are celebrating with the release of a very “grown up” Windows version of the software. We have learned a lot in the past 23 months and Cyphertite has matured quite a bit because of that. While Conformal Systems has shifted some of its focus onto BitCoin projects (BTCD and CoinVoice) in the past year, we remain committed to Cyphertite and providing the most secure data backup service available at a time when people desperately need it!
Cyphertite was conceived and built to be the best zero-knowledge data backup solution for privacy conscious individuals and businesses. Our back end infrastructure is very robust, providing reliability and cryptography that exceed the standards of most banks and governments. While all this time spent on security was worth every penny, I realize now that the user experience we gave our customers was lacking. There is often a trade off between usability and security and we landed closer to the latter. Because of this, the second half of 2013 was devoted to improving Cyphertite in the areas of simplicity, performance, and intuitive use without any compromise to the security of your data.
One of the first decisions we made during the redesign of Cyphertite was to move away from a web based GUI and into a native Windows application. While there are some advantages to a web based interface (such as portability and remote access) the restrictions of designing an easy to use interface in HTML proved to be too great. In 2.0 we chose to implement a native application that tightly integrates the Cyphertite experience into many aspects of Windows Explorer. This has resulted in a modernized, responsive, and intuitive interface that provides more information with less text on the page. The side-by-side comparison below from each version of Cyphertite illustrates this quite well.
The landing page is broken up into four “live” tiles that update in real-time to provide contextual information to the user. The tiles also provide navigation into the four major areas in the product: Create, Browse, Status and Settings. We have strived to make each of these areas clear, concise, and linear.
A perfect example of these traits is our new Create Backup page. Instead of bombarding the user with options, Cyphertite steps through the backup process by presenting one option at a time, and only when that particular option becomes relevant. We found that a pain point for many users is knowing exactly where to find their personal data, so we have provided templates that add the most common folders in Windows (Documents, Pictures, etc) directly to the backup. In as little as two clicks, Cyphertite can add over a dozen folders, automatically generate a tag name, and start securely sending your files to our online vault… try doing THAT with our old UI.
For power users, we have also provided the ability to add any number of specific files/folders, a wide array of scheduling options, and custom tagging.
Once a backup is completed successfully, it is important to have a simple and intuitive interface for users to browse for and retrieve files. For Cyphertite 2.0, we chose to build our Backup Browser with the same look and feel of browsing in Windows Explorer. Users can take advantage of familiar items such as the address bar, back/forward buttons, and even search to find the data they need. Securely extracting your data from Cyphertite is easily accomplished with a copy/paste or drag-and-drop operation, and double-clicking any file will download and open it in the appropriate program. Lastly, we provide a toolbar with the most common tasks users may want to perform on their data.
When making large backups, many users will want to check on the progress to ensure their important data is moving as expected. We have put this information where it is easy to find with a quick glance so you can have the peace of mind you are looking for. On the home page we show basic progress of the operation in the status tile. You can click the tile to visit the status page if you want to see more detailed information about the operation in progress.
Another feature included in Cyphertite 2.0 that I am particularly excited about is the auto update check. This will be the last version of Cyphertite where you must rely on watching our Twitter feed or a visit to Cyphertite.com in order to discover when new versions of Cyphertite are released. The software will check for updates automatically and notify you when one is available in a minimally intrusive way.
As you have probably noticed, all of the updates I have mentioned are user experience related. This is because our cryptography code was quite mature already and did not need as much attention as our user interface. The goal here is to make Cyphertite as easy to use as possible. Data backup is important, and in current times zero knowledge encrypted backup is very important. I want to encourage all computer users to back up their data the right way: a private way. Hopefully this refresh of our user interface will accomplish just that. You can download Cyphertite 2.0 here.
On a final note, I want to thank all of our current users and past reviewers for their patronage and honest feedback. At times, while Cyphertite was in Beta, the experience was a bit clunky. I appreciate your understanding and patience while Cyphertite “grew up”. I am quite proud of Cyphertite 2.0 and hope you will be as well. Keep your data safe. Best wishes in 2014.