Decentralized Storage. Or if you run in the nerd circles you would call it, “IPFS” which is short for “Interplanetary File Storage”. I know. I know. Let’s not get too lost in the weeds on that one, suffice it to say, I just think of the TV show, Big Bang Theory and move on after noting that, for now, it’s really intraplanetary as in: only on earth.
So imagine you had really important data that you wanted to keep secure…
Yeah. Who doesn’t. Ever had a hard drive crash? Ever have your data stolen from some place like Home Depot, Albertsons, or Experian? Ever lost a flash drive with something important? Maybe I am just unlucky but all those things, and then some, have happened to me.
I could make this article really short and just remind you that is really all you need to know about why decentralized storage is such a big deal but I will go a little deeper because this is actually pretty cool.
At first, I thought it was blockchain storage but then I did some research and talked to some of my favorite nerds to get some clarification. They tried to tell me but it ended up being a guessing game where I said, “Is it like blah blah blah?” And then they confirmed or denied until I was able to explain it in less technical terms. Eventually I got up the nerve to message Stephanie Sunshine and asked for the IPFS for Dummies Cliff Notes since she is the Empress of IPFS (so I heard), but I will get to that bit later.
So here goes.
Imagine if you had really important data that you wanted to keep secure, like your DNA data. You don’t want just anyone to have that but you also want to have easy access to it whenever you want to. So you start looking around the world wide web for companies that do that sort of thing and of course you come across one of the popular companies who will extract your DNA from your saliva and then store the records for you. You pay a one time fee and then you can look at your data pretty easily anytime you want to. That’s a centralized option. Of course, they have your DNA, they look at it whenever they want, they compare it to other humans’ DNA data, and likely, even sell it for research. It’s your DNA data, which they made you pay for and which they will now sell for their profit. And which could potentially be hacked and stolen because it is stored in one place, with who knows how many people having access.
So what are you going to do?
What if you could go through a similar process to get started but instead of your data being stored on some central server, it’s broken up into multiple files, encrypted and stored in multiple locations around the world. THEN, the location of those servers and the address of those files on those servers is encrypted and saved on a decentralized blockchain. And on that blockchain, the information is only accessible by executing a smart contract, using a key, which only you possess. Now what if you could do all of that in the same amount of time (or less) as the centralized option. AND what if there was an application that helped you do all that, only charged a very small amount of money for storage and then let you know whenever someone was interested in buying DNA and then facilitated the sale of your property on blockchain, where again, only you have the ability to turn on and turn off access to your data.
That’s just one of many reasons why Decentralized Storage is a big deal.
But let’s look at it from a business perspective. Eventually IPFS or something like it will become the standard because let’s face it, data security is a problem and a big part of that problem is that a lot of data is stored in something like a giant big box store with one secured front door and 50 unsecured back doors. But there is more to it. Centralized data storage relies entirely on the viability, security, and skills of a single organization. And in case you have had your head in the sand, the tide of data breaches has not begun to recede.
Enter the idea of decentralized storage. You may have heard of IPFS, and how data is stored on a world-wide distributed network. Using IPFS, it is very easy to encrypt a file and store that; everyone who has the key can see the file but can’t do anything without the passphrase to unencrypt the file. But IPFS has a major scalability issue that has never been solved. Until now. On the Telos Blockchain Network.
Cue: Stephanie Sunshine. Like I said, I got up the nerve to ask her for the IPFS for Dummies Cliff Notes and my timing was perfect because she said she had a little downtime and ended up giving me two hours, probably not her plan but I like to think I was a good student or it just took that long because I was sadly misinformed despite my previous efforts. Now, I am just speculating here but it’s possible that Ms. Sunshine could probably explain IPFS and her brain-child, dStor, in her sleep but I am super grateful for her time and the education.
The advent of dStor feels like a historical moment. I won’t go into the glorious details but the end result is a scalable solution for decentralized storage that is controlled by smart contracts on the Telos Blockchain. This is a huge win for blockchain technology as it solves one of the issues that businesses have with securing and storing large amounts of data and what’s more, the solutions are customizable depending on your company’s needs.
It’s also important to understand that dStor solves an essential problem for blockchain dApps, which is that decentralized blockchains do not store files and file storage services are centralized. So, If you have the important data files associated with a dApp stored on centralized servers, then it’s not truly a decentralized app. There’s a point of failure. On Telos, dStor gives dApps a decentralized place to store all the files they require; one that is controlled by contracts on the Telos blockchain to allow the payment of storage fees and the use of innovative Telos features such as decrypting files via Telos account keys. What else that is exciting about this is that whole DNA story I told up there is on its way to becoming a reality through an Application currently being built using this very technology. dStor on Telos is where smart companies are going to find secure, high-speed, customizable and cost-effective decentralized storage solutions.