What is decentralized file storage?
Decentralized storage refers to a system where data is distributed across a network of nodes or devices, rather than being stored in a central location.
This means that there is no single point of failure and the system is more resistant to censorship and data loss. Decentralized storage systems often use blockchain technology to manage the distribution and security of the data.
It's a different approach to brands like Amazon Web Services who store all of your information on a single server/node and helps secure your brand against bad actors and/or censorship.
What are the best decentralized file storage solutions?
You should always DYOR whenever you're looking to make any sort of purchase decision.
The overviews of brands with attached user reviews above should help you make the right decision for your needs.
However, if you're just after a quick overview of the best potential in the space, I've collated some of the more popular brands for you below (if you click on the name it'll take you through to the detailed review where possible).
1. Crust Network
The Crust Network provides decentralized storage and computing facilities. I
t is based on a fair and open mechanism, providing top-notch security and low energy consumption.
The network supports multiple storage-layer protocols, such as IPFS, and offers instant, accessible, on-chain storage functions.
To ensure data security and cost-effectiveness, the Crust Network utilizes the Meaningful Proof of Work (MPoW) and Guaranteed Proof of Stake (GPoS) consensus mechanisms.
In addition to its secure data processing capabilities, the Crust Network also incentivizes nodes to facilitate file withdrawals by utilizing a tracking system to monitor node traffic.
Nodes that do not frequently facilitate file withdrawals will receive fewer storage orders. This ensures that all nodes are actively participating in the network’s operations while also providing an incentive for them to do so.
Storj is an open-source, peer-to-peer, encrypted cloud storage platform that uses a decentralized network of nodes to host user data.
This means that users who elect to provide terabytes of cloud storage space can become a node for the network and receive Storj tokens as rewards.
Storj's Decentralized Cloud Storage (DCS) offers more privacy, security, and affordability than most conventional, centralized cloud storage alternatives.
On Storj DCS, no file is ever stored in one place; instead, files are encrypted, split into 80+ smaller pieces, and distributed across a global network of individual nodes.
This ensures that the data remains secure and private while also providing faster access times due to the decentralized nature of the system.
Additionally, since there are no single points of failure or central servers hosting all the data at once, it makes it much harder for hackers to gain access to user information.
Filebase is a cloud storage provider that automates the entire process of securely storing and retrieving any type of digital asset.
It was built from the ground up to be simple, secure, and highly efficient for today’s need for massive amounts of data storage in a cloud setting.
It provides file base users with features such as secure backups, compression algorithms for maximum efficiency, multi-region replication for reliability and access control policies for added security. With
Filecoin is a decentralized storage network that utilizes a native cryptocurrency, FIL, to incentivize miners and storage nodes to store files reliably over time.
The platform allows users to pay FIL in order to store their files, while miners and storage nodes earn FIL for hosting the files.
All transactions are recorded on the blockchain ledger, providing proof that miners are storing the files correctly.
The Filecoin project began as one of the largest initial coin offerings of all time, raising $257 million in 2017.
Since then, it has grown into a reliable and secure platform for storing data. The network is powered by an open-source protocol that enables users to rent out unused hard drive space or purchase storage capacity from other users.
This system ensures that data is stored securely and efficiently across multiple locations around the world.
BitTorrent is one of the oldest and most well-known decentralized data storage networks.
Founded in 2001, it initially gained notoriety as a site for pirating movies and other media, but has since evolved into a platform offering a range of products, including the BitTorrent File System (BTFS).
BTFS is a scalable, decentralized storage system designed to reduce storage costs, improve fault tolerance, and avoid government censorship.
What sets BitTorrent apart from other distributed storage networks is its impressive user base; there are more than 100 million user nodes on the platform.
Furthermore, BTFS runs on the TRON network which has over 1,000 full TRON nodes.
This combination of high user numbers and blockchain technology makes BitTorrent an attractive option for those looking for secure and reliable data storage solutions.
Sia is a cloud storage solution launched in 2015.
It is a decentralized, peer-to-peer platform that aims to reduce the cost of cloud storage while improving the security of users' stored data.
Sia splits, encrypts, and distributes data to different nodes on its blockchain, which can only be accessed by the user who possesses the private encryption keys. This makes it much more secure than traditional cloud storage solutions.
In order to make this possible, Sia created a marketplace for hosts and users via token economics of Siacoin.
Hosts can rent out extra space on their PC to the Sia decentralized network and receive payment in Siacoin, the native cryptocurrency for the Sia blockchain platform.
This allows users to store their data securely and cheaply without having to worry about third-party interference or censorship.
With 11 investors including INBlockchain and Dragonfly Capital Partners already backing it up, Sia looks set to revolutionize cloud storage as we know it today.
Holochain is an open-source framework that was founded in 2017.
It provides a distributed database that does not rely on servers, but instead allows apps to connect user devices directly to a secure network.
This platform enables users to access their own data while maintaining peer accountability. Holochain also facilitates cost savings for app developers since it allows them to use locally installed software while still providing redundancy of cloud software.
The HoloFuel currency is based on Holochain and serves as a contractual service obligation, acting as an accounting system for paying hosts for services rendered.
The HoloToken (HOT) ERC-20 token is redeemable for HoloFuel and can be used to purchase services from hosts on the network.
HOT tokens are also used to incentivize users who host applications on the network, allowing them to earn rewards for their efforts.
Arweave is a decentralized storage network that was designed to prioritize data permanence.
It operates on a peer-to-peer (P2P) storage protocol modeled after a blockchain, and makes additional storage capacities accessible with PCs functioning as Arweave clients.
The platform employs Permaweb as the software program that provides data storage and other features. Data storage requires a one-time payment in the form of AR tokens, which are accessible on the majority of cryptocurrency exchanges.
The network is highly secure, integrating a variety of top-level security features.
This allows users to remember and preserve valuable information, apps, and history indefinitely without worrying about censorship or surveillance.
With Arweave, users can store their data securely for years to come without having to worry about it being lost or deleted due to technical issues or malicious attacks.
Why bother with decentralized file storage?
I mean, we already have well-established and pretty reliable centralized file storage solutions like AWS. Why bother adding another element to something that already works?
With centralized storage, all data is stored in one place, making it vulnerable to malicious actors and hackers.
Decentralized storage distributes data across multiple nodes, making it much harder for attackers to access sensitive information.
This also makes it easier for users to control their own data, as they can choose which nodes store their information and how much of it is shared with others.
Recent high-profile data breaches have highlighted the need for more secure methods of storing user data. C
Companies such as Equifax and Facebook have suffered massive losses due to their reliance on centralized servers that were not properly secured.
The issue is so prevalent that there are even specialized brands and websites that allow you to quickly see if your data has been breached in one of these hacks.
By switching to decentralized storage solutions, companies can reduce the risk of such incidents occurring in the future by ensuring that user data is distributed across multiple nodes and protected by strong encryption protocols.
How does decentralized storage actually work?
This is the million-dollar question. And honestly, it's quite complex.
As you'll know from the above, with decentralized storage, information is split across multiple nodes.
Each node only stores a fragment or portion of the entire data. However, the data is also replicated across several nodes to ensure its availability and reliability.
When a user wants to access this data, they can query the network using a unique identifier assigned to the file or data they are looking for. The network will then use this identifier to locate the data on the nodes where it is stored, and retrieve the data for the user.
in short, it's similar to normal data storage, but the entire data is split into portions. Each node gets a part of the whole data with some backups being replicated across other nodes.
When you look into some of the services that are making decentralized storage more accessible for the average user, you'll find that they often build on something called IPFS - or the InterPlanetary File System.
Here's a little more info on what is the base of decentralized data.
What is IPFS?
IPFS stands for InterPlanetary File System.
It's a decentralized storage system that allows users to store and share files and data in a peer-to-peer network. basically, there's no one centralized entity and the calls and responses for access to data are handled betweeen the people within the network.
IPFS uses a content-addressable system, where each file or piece of data is assigned a unique identifier based on its content, rather than its location. This makes it possible to access the data by its identifier, rather than by its location on a specific server or device.
IPFS is designed to be scalable, flexible, and secure. It can be used to store and share a wide range of data, including documents, images, videos, and other files.
Is decentralized file storage more secure?
We've mentioned that one of the main benefits of decetralized file storage is that's it more secure.
The question is whether it's more secure than centralized storage.
In short, the answer is yes. Decentralized file storage is generally considered to be more secure than centralized file storage.
Because there are multiple copies of the data stored in different locations, it's way more difficult for someone to gain unauthorized access to the files.
Additionally, since no single computer or server serves as a main point of failure, if one node goes down, another can pick up its load until it’s back online again.
Furthermore, with decentralised infrastructure, any modifications that occur in the data have to be accepted by everyone on board in order for them to take effect; this makes malicious data corruption and deletion harder.
It's very similar to blockchain and crypto. There's a consensus mechanism that needs to be navigated for changes so it's way more secure than having a single point of failure.
At the core of it's security is how it shards and encrypts data.
The ins and outs of data sharding?
Data sharding and encryption are two of the most important security measures used by decentralized cloud storage providers.
By breaking objects into small pieces called shards, encrypting them, and distributing those shards across the storage nodes, each node only has access to a small portion of the stored data at any given time.
This makes it difficult for malicious actors to gain access to the entire dataset. Furthermore, data stored on the nodes is encrypted, and only the data's owner holds the private encryption key, making it impossible for storage providers to read the data.
The concept of decentralized cloud storage is similar to that of blockchain technology in that its security comes from its distributed structure.
With this in mind, it is important to consider when a decentralized cloud storage solution should or shouldn't be used.
For example, if an organization needs to store large amounts of sensitive information such as financial records or personal information then a decentralized cloud storage solution would be ideal due to its high level of security.
What are the benefits of decentralized file storage?
Cloud storage really changed the game when it came to making files accessible from anywhere.
You could argue that a lot of today's biggest brands wouldn't be viable without the backing of decent cloud storage solutions. Huge companies like Netflix rely on it.
However, there's a number of issues with centralized cloud storage solutions. the cost is one, the fact there's a single point of failure another.
These are just two of the areas where decentralized file storage can help. Below I've outlined a few of the key benefits of decentralized file storage.
- Improved security: Because decentralized storage systems distribute data across multiple nodes, there is no single point of failure. This makes it more difficult for hackers to access or compromise the data. As with a lot of similar blockchain technology, you're spreading the potential surface area of attack massively limiting a catastrophic failure.
- Greater reliability: In centralized storage systems, a single server or device is responsible for storing all the data. If this device fails, the data may be lost. In decentralized systems, the data is distributed across multiple nodes, so if one node fails, the data can still be accessed from other nodes. It's a safeguard against issues and failures that are out of your hands.
- Better resistance to censorship: In a decentralized storage system, data is not controlled by a single entity. This makes it more difficult for governments or other organizations to censor or block access to the data. This could technically be viewed as a downfall of the tech as well.
- Lower costs: Decentralized storage systems can be more cost-effective than centralized systems, because they often use excess capacity on existing devices (such as computers or smartphones) to store data, rather than requiring specialized hardware. You'll note that a lot of the services we've included below are far cheaper than the centralized storage solution competition.
- Greater flexibility: Because decentralized storage systems are distributed across multiple nodes, they can be more flexible and scalable than centralized systems. This makes it easier to add or remove nodes as needed to meet changing storage needs.
Basically, there are a lot of benefits to decentralized storage solutions. But that's not to say they're without fault.
There are reasons you might not want to go with a decentralized storage solution.
What are the negatives of a decentralized storage solution?
Splitting your data and information across multiple locations doesn't remove the risk of problems entirely. In fact, there are a few reasons you might want to consider whether or not this is the right solution for you.
Generally speaking, decentralized storage has the following drawbacks.
- Lower performance: Because decentralized storage systems distribute data across multiple nodes, the data may not be stored on a single, high-performance device. This can result in slower access times and lower overall performance.
- Higher complexity: Decentralized storage systems can be more complex to set up and manage than centralized systems. They require coordination among multiple nodes, and may require specialized knowledge and expertise to maintain. Which is why we're taking time to find and review the best systems out there. A lot of the good brands take the complexity out of decentralized storage for you.
- Limited compatibility: Not all applications and services are compatible with decentralized storage systems. Some may require a more traditional, centralized storage solution. This looks like it's changing as more brands and businesses enter the space.
- Potential for partial data loss: In a decentralized storage system, data is distributed across multiple nodes. If some of these nodes fail or become unavailable, it may be difficult or impossible to recover the data from those nodes. This can increase the risk of data loss. It's less risk than storing everything in one place. If your centralized storage solution fails you lose everything. If a decentralized node fails, you lose part of your data. Whicher storage solution you go with, make sure that you have backups of key data.
- Limited regulation: Because decentralized storage systems are distributed and decentralized, they may not be subject to the same regulations as centralized systems. This can make it difficult to ensure that the data is handled and stored in a way that complies with relevant laws and regulations.