Burnaby, B.C. startup Tarsnap an interesting concept conceived by an interesting man

by Knowlton Thomas | Startups

From record-setting Pi calculations, to attending university at age 13, to earning the title of Putnam Fellow, Colin Percival is is a numbers type of guy.

Which may define his bootstrapped, one-man creation, Tarsnap. It's a technically advanced and highly secure backup service for Linux, OS X and a variety of other platforms.

Colin began developing the Burnaby-based project in the Fall of 2006. He started private beta testing in early 2008, switched to public beta later than year, and then soft-launched from beta to reality at the end of last year.

So what makes Tarsnap stand out from other backup services? Quoth the creater himself:

In addition to its unequalled security, Tarsnap is unique in operating on an entirely usage-based billing model.  Similar to prepaid mobile phones, Tarsnap users can deposit money into their accounts whenever they like; account balances are used up based on a flat per-GB price for bandwidth and a flat per-GB-month price for storage.

Tarsnap is a "bootstrapped, single-founder, no-employees startup," according to Colin. His background in cryptography and open source security enables him to run such a complex startup alone, and although he would like to hire additional talent, the finances aren't quite there yet.

An extra player in his game would be nice, he notes, if only for one reason: the entire purpose of his service is to back up data, but if he was hit by a bus (his example), Tarsnap would eventually break and nobody would know how to run its server code to fix it.

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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