When a new technology is proposed, it’s creators often claim it can solve a wide range of problems. In this lesson, we’ll explore the current scenarios where decentralized storage has been found to be advantageous.
While the community seems to generate new applications for decentralized storage daily, the original purpose of this technology was intended as a means of supporting blockchain networks. In most current applications, a peer node needs to download the entire blockchain in order to validate transactions or mine new blocks. This application has not yet been entirely finalized, but the team at Swarm are actively working on a proposal to allow the Ethereum blockchain to be shared collectively between mining nodes. This has the potential to not only help the network scale to meet demand, but also to open up opportunities for more users to engage in mining or other activities.
The uPort project uses IPFS to store public identification documents. These records contain the public keys of a user, as well as links to their affiliations and records of their interactions on-chain. In each case, a single file is stored on IPFS, and it is linked to the user via a blockchain registry. This allows any peer to look up the records associated with that user without requiring an on-chain transaction.
Many websites such as Twitter or Reddit display the majority of their content in a public format. If an image file or video needs to be shared by many peers, this can be a great application for decentralized storage. Websites like d.tube have already demonstrated that it’s possible to replicate even the most complex functionality of historic alternatives like YouTube. Use of shared decentralized content on these platforms complicates design slightly, but has the benefit of creating censorship resistant platforms, meaning that the staff of d.tube are not able to block the display of content from their system.