Sneakernet is an informal term for the transfer of data by physically moving media such as floppy disks, optical discs, USB flash drives between computers, rather than transmitting it over a computer network. The term, a tongue-in-cheek play on net(work) as in Internet or Ethernet, refers to walking in sneakers as the transport mechanism.[1]. An alternative term is the pigeon net, refering to pigeans flying routes with usb sticks or sd cards.

A sneakernet or store and forward protocol can also be used to facilitate an offline-first lifestyle instead of a hyperconnected one.


Google used a sneakernet to transport large datasets, including 120 TB of data from the Hubble Space Telescope.[22][23] Users of Google Cloud can import their data into Google Cloud Storage through sneakernet.[24]

The SETI@home project used a sneakernet to overcome bandwidth limitations: data recorded by the radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico was stored on magnetic tapes which were then shipped to Berkeley, California, for processing.

In later USSR, the operating system called DEMOS was created and adapted for many types of Soviet computers by cloning versions of UNIX that were brought into USSR on magnetic tapes bypassing the Iron Curtain. This allowed to build Relcom country-wide X.25 network to provide global Usenet access for Soviet users which led to the registration of .su (“Soviet Union”) top level domain in 1990.

In 2009, Durban (SA) company Unlimited IT pitted a messenger pigeon against South African ISP Telkom to transfer 4 GB of data 60 miles (97 km) from Howick to Durban. The pigeon, carrying the data on a memory stick, arrived in one hour eight minutes, with the data taking another hour to read from the memory stick. During the same two-hour period, only about 4.2% of the data had been transferred over the ADSL link.[17]. A similar experiment was conducted in England in 2010; the “pigeonnet” also proved superior.[18][[19]] Wizzy Digital Courier (SA) provided Internet access to schools in South Africa with poor or no network connectivity by implementing UUCP on USB memory sticks. This allowed offline cached email transport and scoops of web pages to back-fill a web cache.[21].

More about these kind of caching or store and forward techniques are listed in the local-first area and here.

deaddrop networks but watch out for malware or worse on untrusted devices or networks


“NNCP is to UUCP what ssh is to telnet; NNCP is an Encrypted, authenticated, onion-routed version of UUCP!”


git-annex is a distributed file synchronization system written in Haskell. It solves the problem of sharing and synchronizing collections of large files independent from a commercial service or even a central server. git-annex by default will consider your data dead when it can’t be checked in real time, but overriding will trust the data will survive offline forever.

An example use case:

“Alice is always on the move, often with her trusty netbook and a small handheld terabyte USB drive, or a smaller USB keydrive. She has a server out there on the net. She stores data, encrypted in the Cloud.

All these things can have different files on them, but Alice no longer has to deal with the tedious process of keeping them manually in sync, or remembering where she put a file. git-annex manages all these data sources as if they were git remotes.

When she has 1 bar on her cell, Alice queues up interesting files on her server for later. At a coffee shop, she has git-annex download them to her USB drive. High in the sky or in a remote cabin, she catches up on podcasts, videos, and games, first letting git-annex copy them from her USB drive to the netbook (this saves battery power).

When she’s done, she tells git-annex which to keep and which to remove. They’re all removed from her netbook to save space, and Alice knows that next time she syncs up to the net, her changes will be synced back to her server.”

What git-annex is not:

IPFS, the interplanetary filesystem

messengers with off-grid capabilities

store and forward messengers through radio protocols (wifi, bluetooth or lo-ra)

sneakernet reads