As the amount of files, websites, accounts, and other digital assets continue to grow as the worldwide web continues to change and develop, data storage and management have become more important than ever. With the rise of the Internet and the increasing need for online storage solutions, many new technologies have been developed to meet these demands.
Some of these solutions provide traditional, centralized file storage solutions, while others provide decentralized file storage solutions, such as IPFS, that provide a more redundant, secure, and flexible option that’s becoming a popular choice for a variety of reasons. Let’s look at the differences between traditional file storage solutions and IPFS, a decentralized storage protocol.
Centralized vs Decentralized
Centralized file storage systems at their very core store files on hard disk drives. Hard drives are stored in one geographic location, whether it be in a laptop, NAS device, or within a server that sits on a rack in a massive data center. Regardless of where the hard drive is, it’s only located in that one place. Additionally, unless there are specific backup and redundancy precautions taken into place, there is only one copy of each file stored on that hard drive.
Centralized file storage is susceptible to outages, natural disasters, or everyday hardware failures. If any of these common events happen to the location where your data is stored, your data is no longer accessible.
Decentralized file storage benefits from a feature known as geo-redundancy. Decentralized file storage systems such as IPFS are networks of hundreds or thousands of individual file storage locations, known as nodes. Each node is located in a different geographic location, providing hundreds of different data storage locations. When a file is stored on a decentralized storage network like IPFS, files are stored across multiple locations, providing inherent redundancy and reliability.
When files are uploaded to IPFS, by default they are stored in a node’s cache storage. If another node receives a request to access that file, it gets retrieved from the original node’s cache storage and then stored in the requesting node’s cache storage as well, creating two simultaneous copies of the file on the network.
However, cache storage of nodes is periodically cleared through a resource management process known as the garbage collection process. To avoid a file being removed from cache storage, it needs to be stored in the node’s permanent storage through a process known as ‘Pinning’.
Location Addressing vs Content Addressing
Location addressing refers to the process of identifying a specific location in a file system where data is stored. The location is identified by its location address, such as a directory path, which acts as an identifier for the file. In location addressing, when data is moved, its its location address changes. However, if the data’s content is changed, the location address will remain the same.
IPFS, on the other hand, uses content addressing, a method of addressing data based on its content, rather than its location. In this method, a unique identifier, known as a hash, is generated for each piece of data based on its content. This identifier acts as an address for the data, and it remains the same even if the data is moved to another location. It also provides a level of data validation and verification, since any change to a file’s content or metadata will result in a new, unique identifier.
RAID Redundancy vs IPFS Redundancy
Traditional centralized file systems typically offer data redundancy using RAID. RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) is a technology that combines multiple physical disk drives into a single logical storage unit to provide data redundancy, performance improvement, or both.
There are several types of RAID configurations, each with different levels of redundancy and performance, but they all use the same basic principle: data is divided into blocks and written to multiple disks at the same time. This way, if one of the disks fails, the data can still be reconstructed from the remaining disks.
The problem with RAID is that while data is replicated, it’s still stored in one location. RAID disks must be stored within the same server, so despite providing redundancy, if the geographic location of these disks is affected by disaster or outage, the data redundancy provided by RAID is pointless.
Filebase is a geo-redundant IPFS pinning service and decentralized storage provider. When a file is uploaded to an IPFS bucket on Filebase, it is automatically pinned to the IPFS network with 3 duplicate copies, each of which is stored on an IPFS node located across 3 unique, geographic regions.
Since data is pinned with 3 copies stored amongst locations located in the United States, London, and Frankfurt, enterprises benefit from 3x redundant, persistent copies of each file pinned to the IPFS network, making data resilient to outages and disasters. Since there are multiple copies located across the world, data is also highly performant and accessible.
You can sign up for a free Filebase account to get started with your IPFS journey today.
If you have any questions, please join our Discord server, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.