For a long time cloud has figured as the top option for storing files. Now, however, with the rise of blockchain, more and more decentralized storage networks threaten to disrupt the cloud as the storage option of choice for many users.
Here are 8 decentralized cloud storage options to pay attention to:
As far as longevity and number of users are in question, BitTorrent is the number one peer-to-peer network in the world.
Founded in 2001 by an American software engineer, Bram Cohen, BitTorrent is a decentralized P2P protocol that allows users to upload and download files on the Internet.
Instead of uploading and downloading entire files (which can be quite large as people use BitTorrent to download movies for instance), each file is broken into smaller fragments. These fragments are then sent over the peer-to-peer network of seeds and peers until the user can receive the full file on their device.
The seed is the person who originally shared the full file (aka the uploader) and the peers are the users who receive fragments of the file via the distributed network.*
Sia is a decentralized storage platform that utilizes blockchain technology in order to secure the user’s files and/or folders.
So how does it work exactly?
First of all, Sia looks for unused hard drive space from computers in its decentralized network around the globe. Next, when it has located the necessary storage space, a data storage marketplace is created, which boasts much lower storage than traditional cloud storage.
The security is, however, where Sia really shines.
First of all, since the files are distributed among multiple hosts and locations, there is no single point of failure to worry about. You won’t have to worry about the server going down due to a DNS failure or anything like that.
Second, your files are encrypted and as the owner, you are the only one with access to the private key that can be used to decrypt them. Nobody else, including the storage provider, can do that.
If you’re on the SAFE peer-to-peer, decentralized network, you can share your hard disk space, memory and processing power and “farm” MaidSafeCoins (MAID).
The network uses Proof-of-Resource which the network uses to determine if the nodes that store fragments of encrypted data (called “Farmers”) are actually following the rules of the network.
Basically, the Proof-of-Resource determines if the “Farmer” has the necessary resources (disk storage space, processor speed, bandwidth, online time) to store and/or retrieve data fragments. If not, that node is removed from the SAFE network.
Finally, it should also be noted that anyone can join the SAFE network completely anonymously, thus there is no worry about censorship or anything like that and all files are fully encrypted.
Storj is a decentralized cloud storage platform based on the Ethereum blockchain where each network member can provide free space on their local device.
What do you need to become a part of the Storj decentralized network?
Only some free disk space and enough bandwidth to send and receive data.
Let’s say you want to send something over the Storj decentralized network. First of all, your file will be fully encrypted with the private key so you are the only one with access to the file.
The file will be split into multiple smaller fragments and each of these fragments in turn will be stored on PCs around the world that are a part of the Storj network. Once you need to file, the file will be downloaded via multiple connections and naturally distributed back to you.
FileCoin is a decentralized cloud storage platform that is based on the IPFS P2P file storage protocol (more on IPFS later).
Anyone can join the FileCoin network and become a miner. In fact, the miners are rewarded for storing, organizing and distributing data on their local storage devices (all you need is enough disk space and a good Internet connection) with FIL tokens.
To become a miner, you have to bid against other miners for storage, where asks and bids are visible to all (the lowest price wins).
Once you become a miner, you will be evaluated based on two consensus mechanisms:
Proof-of-Spacetime - which ensures that you continue to store a unique piece of data for the network and,
Proof-of-Replication - which shows that you have stored as many copies of data as you claim to have on your drive storage.
Another decentralized storage network that uses blockchain technology, smart contracts and tokens to share and exchange data in a trustless way is the Ocean Protocol.
Participants in the network range from crypto nerds, AI devs, to nonprofits and businesses.
Internxt is a decentralized cloud storage service that keeps your sensitive data safe using AES-256 CTR encryption, which ensures that you are the only one who can access your files.
Each user has access to free 2GB storage via their browser on their Windows or macOS device or they can download the program or the app on their Android or iOS.
Since the files are broken into smaller chunks and then randomly dispersed on the multiple servers on the decentralized network, which means there is no single point of failure and a potential hacker can’t get the whole file, but only a part of it.
We already briefly mentioned IPFS when we talked about FileCoin, but it definitely deserves a section of its own.
IPFS stands for InterPlanetary File System and is a distributed file system for sharing and storing data that works similarly to torrents.
Basically, files are not hosted on one location, like a central server, but are instead distributed over a network of computers (basically, anyone who wants to host a file is welcome on the network).
One issue with IPFS is that it doesn’t ensure permanence so you would have to integrate it with another tool like FileCoin to ensure that your data is stored over a longer period of time.
Speaking of storage, if the data is not used frequently, IPFS uses a process called Garbage collection through which it deletes that data and that way clears up memory space. To ensure that your data is stored locally, you need to add a local “pin”.
Are decentralized storage networks here to replace traditional centralized solutions by big providers like Dropbox, Amazon, IBM, Google, etc?
Probably not, at least not any time soon. For the average user, centralized solutions are still far too convenient to really bother switching to something they may not fully understand just yet.
However, what decentralized storage solutions have for themselves is that they are much better at protecting your privacy and they also give you the incentive (usually through tokens on the network) to store someone else’s files on your disk space.
Telios itself uses the Sia decentralized storage service to store your encrypted emails. Download Telios to enjoy better security and privacy over a peer-to-peer decentralized email today.