What is decentralized storage
In 2006, British mathematician Clive Humby stated that data had become the new oil in the world of technology. This statement has become increasingly relevant in our time, where our personal information plays a pivotal role in our digital lives.
Today, our personal data, which defines our digital identity, is often stored in a centralized manner. Despite the accessibility of this approach, it doesn't provide users complete control over which data to share and how. This poses threats to data security, privacy infringements, and potential cyber attacks.
However, the advancement of Web3 technology has disrupted the conventional ways users interact in the online sphere, with blockchain playing a crucial role in this technological shift.
Blockchain-based applications function autonomously without intermediaries. They represent a novel decentralized model of the internet, empowering users with full control over their data and interactions in the network. Moreover, decentralized storage enables users to access and store data in a distributed environment rather than relying on a single centralized server.
Centralized and Decentralized Storage
For a considerable duration, centralized data storage has been the prevailing norm. This method entails the administration and storage of data by a provider on either a single server or a cluster of servers, generally situated in a singular location.
This strategy ensures straightforward accessibility and governance of information. Instances of centralized systems encompass cloud-based repositories, where data is housed on servers governed by a singular entity, such as Amazon, Google, or Dropbox.
To secure data during its transit to a centralized server, encryption using 128-bit SSL technology is the usual safeguard. Furthermore, once data is uploaded to centralized storage, it may undergo encryption utilizing 256-bit encryption technology.
However, centralized storage has its drawbacks. Regardless of the security level, encryption keys are solely managed by the storage platform, potentially leading to issues with access, transparency, and control. Storing data in a single location also exposes it to the risk of attacks from malicious actors who could exploit a single point of failure and gain access to extensive volumes of information.
As an alternative, there exists a decentralized approach where data is stored not in one location but across a network of computers distributed worldwide. This allows for the preservation of large volumes of information without a central server or a single provider, safeguarding users against potential censorship and privacy breaches.
How decentralized storage works
Decentralized storage operates as a system where data is distributed across multiple computers, or nodes, connected within a peer-to-peer (P2P) network like BitTorrent or the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS).
Information uploaded into such a system is fragmented and placed on various nodes. When a specific file is required, the network gathers these fragments from different nodes and combines them to reconstruct the file for downloading purposes.
Furthermore, nodes within a decentralized system do not have the ability to view or modify files since a cryptographic hashing mechanism automatically encrypts all data within the network. Access to information is granted through users' private keys, ensuring data security against external interventions.
Benefits of decentralized storage:
Decentralized data storage tackles specific problems associated with centralized servers. Let's explore further the strengths of decentralized networks compared to their centralized equivalents.
Enhanced Security and Privacy:
Conventional centralized data storage networks face higher susceptibility to cyberattacks due to consolidating all information in one location. Conversely, decentralized systems offer a more resilient defense by dispersing data across multiple nodes.
This notably minimizes the likelihood of breaches and data theft. Moreover, within decentralized storage systems, users aren't compelled to reveal personal information, granting them an extra level of anonymity.
Absence of a Single Point of Failure
While centralized data storage networks offer a simpler and more convenient approach, they are prone to transmission errors that may result in data loss. Conversely, decentralized networks consist of multiple nodes, ensuring redundancy of information and fault tolerance: if one node goes down, users can turn to other nodes to access their data.
High Loading Speed
During su dden spikes in data traffic, centralized storage services may experience slowdowns due to delays. However, blockchain technology can alleviate these delays on decentralized platforms, as nodes containing data files are distributed worldwide.
Due to the multitude of nodes in a decentralized system, there is more storage available compared to centralized networks. This often results in reduced fees, which is particularly valuable for small users who do not benefit from economies of scale.
Enhanced Data Integrity
Data integrity refers to the ability of data to maintain its characteristics and properties throughout its existence. In centralized storage systems, data integrity can be compromised due to server access loss or changes in web page addresses. However, in decentralized systems, data remains constantly available and maintains integrity through the hashing process.
Disadvantages of Decentralized Storage
Despite the advantages of decentralized storage compared to centralized systems, there are drawbacks to consider. For instance, accessing data in decentralized systems may take longer due to reliance on a network of storage nodes for data retrieval.
While decentralized storage may offer greater data ownership security, it's susceptible to security threats. Malicious nodes, for instance, could pose a threat to data security within the network. Moreover, the functionality of a decentralized system depends on the state of the network infrastructure, which may impact data availability.
These systems also lack a unified standard. Protocols may use different encryption methods and authentication, making compatibility challenging. Additionally, risks associated with encryption and key management remain relevant.
Decentralized data storage is a relatively new and continually evolving technology that has yet to gain widespread adoption. However, it holds the potential to reshape Web3. Presently, users seek more accessible, efficient, and secure methods of storing information, hence platforms utilizing decentralized technologies, such as BitTorrent, might gain popularity.
Amid ongoing data breaches, rising storage costs, and censorship within traditional environments, more individuals contemplate transitioning to decentralized solutions. While they may address some issues of centralized platforms, they also come with their drawbacks. At present, centralized data storage remains a popular choice for many and will continue to hold significance despite the growing interest in decentralized storage methods.