What is Web3 storage

By Long ·  

In the context of decentralized applications (DApps) and the Ethereum blockchain, "Web3 storage" typically refers to decentralized storage solutions that are built on top of the Web3 protocol stack.

The Web3 protocol stack is a set of protocols and technologies that enable decentralized applications to be built and run on the Ethereum blockchain. It includes protocols such as the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), as well as other technologies such as smart contracts, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Decentralized storage solutions that operate within the Web3 ecosystem provide a way to store data on a decentralized network of nodes, rather than on a central server or cloud storage provider. This can offer a number of benefits, such as increased security, privacy, and censorship resistance.

Some examples of decentralized storage solutions that operate within the Web3 ecosystem include Swarm, Filecoin, and Storj. These solutions allow users to store and retrieve data on a decentralized network of nodes, and often use cryptographic techniques to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the stored data.

How does decentralized storage work?

The decentralized storage model works by sharing the responsibility for storing information among different participants in a peer-to-peer network. This is unlike centralized storage where a piece of information is stored on a single server.

By storing information redundantly across multiple nodes (computers), decentralized storage protects the accessibility and security of information. If a node cannot provide requested content, the same information can be retrieved from other storage nodes.

Contrast this with centralized storage systems that keep your files in one location—if a server goes offline, the information becomes inaccessible. Centralized storage also introduces single points of failure, such that malicious actors can steal information from servers or block access through denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

Many decentralized storage services are modeled after decentralized blockchains, meaning that users can transact in a trustless, pseudonymous, and secure fashion. These platforms use cryptoeconomic incentives to ensure everyone contributes positively to the ecosystem.

The decentralized storage model works off the idea that not everyone will utilize the storage on their devices. Thus, individuals are incentivized to rent out unused hard disk space to users in return for compensation.

Typically, decentralized storage marketplaces use blockchain-enabled smart contracts to facilitate interactions between users and storage providers. These smart contracts will often define some or all of the following:

The size of information the user wants to store

The duration for which the storage provider is obliged to hold the information

The compensation paid to the storage provider in exchange for their service

Like blockchains, decentralized storage platforms run on a distributed architecture. As such, they need a consensus mechanism to keep the system functional and to punish/incentivize specific actions.

To this end, most decentralized storage systems use some variation of the proof-of-storage (PoStorage) consensus algorithm. Notably used by Filecoin, proof-of-storage selects miners based on how much data storage contributed to the network. The mechanism also uses a random verification system to confirm if miners are indeed holding the data as promised.

The process of storing information on a decentralized cloud storage (DCS) platform is different from a traditional cloud storage provider, like Google Drive, Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Dropbox:

Initially, uploaded files are encrypted using cryptographic hashing mechanisms and then split into several bits (sharding). Then these fragments are redundantly stored on different storage nodes populating the network. To retrieve the file, users will request the file using the content hash and reassemble the returned fragments to recreate the original information.