Decentralized Storage Systems: 3 Benefits of Filecoin to IPFS.

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Decentralized storage systems, What are they?

Decentralized storage systems are a technology that has developed over the past decade. 

These systems provide an alternative to storing data locally on your computer or server. 

Its storage network stores data across multiple nodes, with servers hosted by independent operators rather than centralized authorities. 

Individuals can get involved by renting out their unused storage space on their computers.

What about centralized storage systems?

Centralized information is all over the web, as it uses centralized storage systems.

These centralized storage platforms use “location-based addressing” to serve up files stored in big server farms which are controlled by single companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Amazon.

This makes it easy for the government to block/restrict users’ access to them. 

However, storage systems also come with some disadvantages, as the storage of data is central, usually by large companies.

When a website experiences downtime, it’s mostly because of the failure/technicality of a centralized service, such as a hosting server or domain name system (DNS) issue. 

Also, the centralization of storage systems leaves them at risk of local censorship.

This means that “certain countries” can suppress “certain contents” to keep them from their citizens, technical issues, or downtime.

This can lead to a lack of service and access to information/data within the occurrence/duration of the technicality for many users.

History has shown that centralized storage systems are efficient but not reliable. 

In 1998, a server that stored about 90% of all the pagers in the United States stopped working, causing one of the most significant internet connection shutdowns in the country’s history. 

Imagine such an incidence reoccurring, the aftereffect would be catastrophic and felt worldwide. 

How can you avoid this situation?

Because of the inconsistencies with centralized storage systems, decentralized storage systems like Interplanetary File System (IPFS) aim to solve this problem.

What is the decentralized storage-“IPFS”all about?

The IPFS as a decentralized storage system

IPFS (Interplanetary File System) is a decentralized storage system built by Protocol Labs.

This system is a service that relies on a distributed network of computers that delivers information based on its content, which is stored on many nodes or computers around the world.

It uses “content-based addressing” which serves up files based on its content.

The system is a decentralized, peer-to-peer file-sharing network and open-source Web3 service, designed to overcome centralized points of failure and censorship efforts, to ensure that the web is freely accessible to all.

File storage on IPFS.

IPFS stores uploaded files on “IPFS objects”, which can store up to a maximum of 256kb of data and contain links to other IPFS objects.

For files larger than 256kb of data, the system splits it into multiple “IPFS objects,” after which the system creates an empty IPFS object that links to the multiple files.

image credit: happycryptoschool.org

When a user requests it and views it, it appears as if it’s merged as one. 

Immediately these files are on IPFS, it generates a unique hash which is used to identify each item. 

This helps to locate which node has the file, and it’s then served to the user via a peer-to-peer connection.

Just like the Blockchain, IPFS is unchanged, meaning it is resistant to tampering, thus the contents cannot change.

Also, IPFS has a system called versioning of files that lets you add a new version of a file, each time you want to make a change or an update.

And, it also connects to the previous one, like the chain of blocks ensuring maintenance of the entire history.

image credit: happycryptoschool.org

Limitations of IPFS 

There are no node rewards for staying online.

There is no distribution of files across all nodes on the network. So if a node goes offline, files will not be accessible.

Because of these limitations, IPFS integrated Filecoin to solve these problems.

What is Filecoin in decentralized storage?

Filecoin is a global decentralized storage system that stores files via a peer-to-peer network. 

Individuals called Miners who dedicate their computers and receive payment for ensuring storage space for users maintain the Filecoin network. 

Its native token, FIL, powers the Filecoin network. Users will have to purchase FIL and use it to pay for data storage and retrieval within the network. 

The network is a Blockchain built on the Interplanetary File System (IPFS).

There is a ton of storage in the world that’s not getting used. 

Think of it as Airbnb. You had people with rooms that weren’t being used: Airbnb built a marketplace for them.

JUAN BENET.

How is data stored and retrieved?

When users upload files, the Filecoin network ensures it safely stores those files.

Clients/users make storage deals with storage providers (miners), to store data.

Miners are required to show proof to the network that they are storing the data and are doing so reliably. 

And then add a new block to the blockchain and receive their reward.

The more storage dedicated to the network, the more chances of getting rewarded.

Then the network verifies the miners are correctly storing the data, after which they make small payments regularly for the duration of the storage deal.

Also, content retrieval is sometimes offered by storage providers directly, or by specialized retrieval storage providers, of which the user requesting the data pays for this service.

Filecoin ecosystem as a decentralized storage system
Image credit: ipfs.io

Consensus algorithms in Filecoin

The Filecoin blockchain relies on two algorithms that help the network verify miners store the data they claim to hold.

Proof of Replication.

The Proof of Replication shows that miners have stored the number of copies of data they claim to hold.

Proof of Spacetime. 

This algorithm shows that miners have stored the data over an agreed period.

These two algorithms allow other participants/clients to assess whether miners are reliable.

The 3 benefits of Filecoin to IPFS 

1. Filecoin solves the problem of nodes going offline by rewarding node Operators on the network to keep the files online

2. Its system replicates a single data on many nodes so that when needed, they don’t become unavailable.

3. The system provides security.

Besides this, decentralized storage is safer against data breaches and attacks because all the nodes store a piece of your file fragment instead of one company.

It’s much easier for a hacker to gain access to a single point of storage rather than trying to access thousands of files from different unknown sources.

Because it splits your data up, it makes it harder for hackers to access your files.

Each file is split up into different pieces and is encrypted separately.

Many solutions combine the two networks, IPFS and Filecoin, to get the best of both.

Filecoin aims to add longer-term persistence to store large amounts of data safely, while IPFS optimizes for the quick retrieval and distribution of content.

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