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Learn > Web3 101

What is decentralized storage?

Muhammad Ahmed
Muhammad Ahmed
5 Mar 2024 · 3 min
What is decentralized storage

Introduction

Centralized cloud storage platforms, like Google Drive and Dropbox, are used by millions worldwide, offering a level of convenience that's hard to deny. However, beneath this convenience lie significant drawbacks. 

These platforms can potentially access your data, suspend your account without warning, and in the unfortunate cases of security breaches, leave your sensitive information vulnerable. The risk of censorship also persists, adding another layer of concern for users.

Decentralized storage not only solves these problems but it puts you in the driver’s seat. It allows you to truly own your data and control who has access to it.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what decentralized storage is and explore three major providers in the space: Filecoin, Storj and Arweave. 

If you’re interested in a more comprehensive comparison of centralized versus decentralized storage, you can read our detailed analysis here.

What is decentralized storage?

Decentralized storage marks a significant departure from the traditional centralized storage model, where data is concentrated in a few select locations controlled by a single entity.

In contrast, decentralized storage spreads data across a vast, often global network. This approach is facilitated through blockchain technology to ensure a secure, transparent, and immutable ledger for data transactions.

The core idea of decentralized storage is to remove the reliance on a central point of control, which brings many advantages. 

It minimizes the risks associated with a single point of failure by distributing data across numerous nodes, making it extremely difficult for cyberattacks to compromise the data.

Unlike centralized systems, where service providers might access or control the data, decentralized storage ensures that users maintain ownership and control. They have sole access to their data since they own the encryption keys, allowing them to decide who else can access it.

Another key feature is its resistance to censorship or content manipulation, as it operates independently of any single government or organization. Additionally, decentralized storage often proves to be more cost effective compared to centralized providers.

Now let’s take a look at Filecoin, Storj and Arweave.

Contract-based storage

Filecoin

In order to understand Filecoin, it’s first important to understand the InterPlanetary File System. 

Developed by Protocol Labs, IPFS, as described on their website, is “a distributed system for storing and accessing files, websites, applications and data”. 

One limitation of IPFS, however, is the lack of inherent incentive for users to store data belonging to others. This gap led Protocol Labs to develop Filecoin, a complementary protocol built on IPFS.

Filecoin enables users to essentially rent out the extra space on their hard drives and creates a decentralized storage marketplace. It's a peer-to-peer network designed with cryptographic measures and economic incentives to facilitate long-term data storage.

If you’d like to see how Filecoin compares to Arweave, you can refer to our detailed comparison.

Storj

Storj is a decentralized storage solution that leverages excess storage space across a network of personal devices. It operates on a contract-based model, allowing users to pay for the storage and bandwidth they use. Node operators, in return, are compensated with $STORJ tokens for contributing their storage space.

The platform prioritizes privacy with client-side encryption, meaning data is encrypted before being uploaded to the network. After files are encrypted, they are split into 80 pieces and distributed across different nodes. To successfully retrieve the data, only 29 pieces of an object are needed, which significantly enhances data availability.

Permanent storage

Arweave

Arweave stands out in this space as it takes a significant step further: it ensures data permanence.

Users pay a one-time upfront fee in order to permanently store their data on Arweave. Once uploaded, it will never be deleted and there are no hidden charges for when the user would like to retrieve their data. Your data remains in its authentic state, tamper-proof and permanent for at least the next 200 years.

This is made possible through Arweave’s unique architecture, which includes the blockweave, the endowment, and its consensus mechanism, known as Succinct Random Proofs of Access (SPoRA). 

Get started

So if you’re looking to get started with decentralized storage, you can use Akord to upload your data to Arweave.

Sign up and start with our free forever plan which gives you 100 MB of valuable permanent storage on Arweave.

Learn more

Want to learn more about Arweave? These articles may interest you:

Winston the elephant

The Permaweb

How Arweave solves link rot

How to archive with Arweave

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