What is Decentralized Storage?
Decentralized storage is a method of data storage where data files are stored across a series of geographically distributed nodes that are connected using peer-to-peer (P2P) networking.
Decentralized storage can refer to data stored on:
- A blockchain network that uses P2P networking, or
- Data stored using the distributed P2P protocol IPFS.
What is IPFS?
The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a P2P communication protocol used to retrieve a file based on its unique content identifier (CID), which is a cryptographic hash that is generated and assigned to the file, based on its content.
CIDs can be used in conjunction with IPFS Gateways to access data from anywhere by anyone.
2. How Does Decentralized Storage Work?
- When a file is uploaded to the IPFS network, the file is split into multiple pieces and given a unique value known as an IPFS CID.
- To request a file, a user queries the file’s CID through an IPFS URL or IPFS HTTP gateway. This query is passed to the network’s distributed hash table, which is a type of database that maps CIDs to the node that is storing the associated file.
- The node storing the file is sent a request to retrieve the file.
- When a file is retrieved, the node that retrieves it keeps it in its cache storage to be accessed by other nodes that request it.
- The node’s cache is emptied periodically through a process known as the IPFS garbage collection process. To avoid files being removed, they must be pinned to the network to be permanently stored.
What is IPFS pinning?
Pinning a file on IPFS protects it from being removed during the garbage collection process, which is a resource maintenance process that clears the cache of an IPFS node regularly to free up resources. Unless a file is pinned, it will only be kept in a node’s cache storage until it is regularly removed.
By default, Filebase pins all IPFS files with 3 redundant replications stored across locations in the US and Europe for assured resilience.
3. Decentralized Storage vs Cloud Storage: How Do They Differ?
Traditional cloud storage stores a data file on a single file server that is hosted in one geographic location. Decentralized storage breaks a file into multiple pieces and then distributes it across a variety of geographic locations.
So instead of uploading a single video file to many different cloud storage providers as a backup, you upload it once with a decentralized paradigm and automatically disperse it to multiple locations.
Decentralized storage has no single point of failure and can tolerate multiple simultaneous outages. In comparison, traditional cloud storage has multiple single points of failure that can cripple infrastructures when outages occur.
If it’s not in the cloud, then where is it?
Traditionally, ‘the cloud’ refers to large data centers that contain thousands of servers used for data storage. Decentralized storage doesn’t use data centers; instead, it utilizes unused storage space across the globe through P2P networks.
These networks are comprised of nodes, which are compute resources that are manually added to the network and willingly provide its local resources such as storage and processor power to be used by the network to store data and process transactions.
With this in mind, decentralized storage can be considered ‘the cloud’ since it is universally accessible, but it does not refer to the same ‘cloud’ that traditional centralized storage uses.
4. Why is Decentralized Storage Important?
Data stored on IPFS offers three main advantages when compared to centralized storage:
- Reliability: Decentralized peer-to-peer networks have no single point of failure like centralized cloud storage does. Multiple nodes can be affected by outages or data corruption and the network will still function as if all the nodes were online.
- Interoperability: Data stored using IPFS benefits from flexible interoperability. It can be accessed through web browsers using IPFS gateways and the data’s IPFS CID without needing authentication or specified access to the file. This provides widespread functionality through various workflows, codebases, SDKs, and tools.
- Redundancy: When data is stored on the IPFS network, any node on the network can store and retrieve that file when requested. As a result, multiple nodes on the network can store a file at once. To assure that a file is stored permanently by a node, however, the file must be pinned on the network.
And unlike other Web3 technologies, which strive to provide new functionality and concepts like NFT collections, storage is essential to everything in the digital world. Decentralized storage simply aims to provide a more secure, reliable, and flexible alternative to cloud storage that is used by everyday users, developers, and enterprises daily.
5. How Do I Gain Access to My Files Stored on IPFS?
To view or download a file stored on IPFS, you can use an IPFS gateway URL with the file’s IPFS CID. This gateway can be accessed from anywhere by anyone without needing authentication or authorization.
You can also use providers like Filebase to interact with IPFS in the same way that you use traditional cloud storage. Filebase provides an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop web-console dashboard for uploading files onto the IPFS network and also provides an S3-compatible API that can be used in hundreds of tools, SDKs, and code bases.
6. What Happens if a Decentralized Storage Provider ‘Goes Down’?
When a node on a decentralized storage network goes down, the other nodes on the network are able to provide access to the network’s stored files.
One, or even tens of nodes being down on a P2P network doesn’t affect the ability of users to continue to use the network. For a decentralized storage provider to truly be ‘down’, more than the majority of the nodes on the network would need to be simultaneously offline, which is extremely unlikely due to their diverse geographic locations.
New Binance System Announced
The world’s leading crypto exchange by volume is announcing a new decentralized storage system based on its native blockchain.
In a recent announcement, Binance reveals a Whitepaper for BNB Greenfield, a three-piece Web3-enabled data storage protocol built on top of the BNB Chain.
“BNB Greenfield consists of a trinity that works together to provide a decentralized data storage system with users at the center:
(1) BNB Greenfield Blockchain + Storage Providers.
(2) New BNB Greenfield dApps.
(3) Existing BNB Chain dApps.”
Binance says it’s working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in building the system, as well as blockchain infrastructure firms NodeReal and Blockdaemon.
According to Binance, the new system aims to allow for personal cloud storage, website hosting, a social media function, as well as storing transaction data from the BNB chain.
The project’s GitHub page gives further insights into the new system’s uses, adding that it has three functions that are different from existing decentralized and centralized storage systems.
“It enables Ethereum-compatible addresses to create and manage both data and token assets. It natively links data permissions and management logic onto BSC as exchangeable assets and smart contract programs with all other assets, [and] it provides developers with similar API primitives and performance as popular existing Web2 cloud storage.
It is expected that Greenfield will set up a playground and test field for new data economy and dApp models, which eventually becomes part of the foundation for Web3.”
Though no specific launch date was mentioned, Binance says it plans to launch BNB Greenfield’s testnet sometime “in the coming months.”
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