The internet is a remarkable innovation that has permeated the daily lives of billions of people. The internet is used for everything, including banking, education, watching movies, and communicating with others. Although the internet has emerged as one of society’s most significant innovations, it is not without flaws.
Particularly, the centralized nature of the internet nowadays is one of its issues. This indicates that huge server farms that store data provide access to all of the information on the internet.
The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), which aims to go beyond the centralized web, is one alternative.
SO WHAT IS IPFS?
The development of the InterPlanetary File System, or IPFS, began in 2015 by a small team of developers, and the company behind this innovation is Protocol Labs. Juan Benet, the CEO of Protocol Labs, initially designed IPFS to create a P2P-based, decentralized solution for the internet.
Similar to BitTorrent, IPFS enables users to host and receive content. In contrast to a centralized server, IPFS is designed on a decentralized network of user-operators that each hold a piece of the total data, resulting in a robust system for sharing and storing files. Other peers in the network can locate and request that content from any node who has it using a distributed hash table, and any user in the network can serve a file by its content address (DHT).
A single worldwide network will be created by IPFS. This means that if two users publish the identical hash on a block of data, the peers getting the content from “user 1” will also trade data with the peers downloading it from “user 2.” By leveraging gateways that are HTTP-accessible, IPFS aspires to replace the protocols used for delivering static web pages. Instead of installing an IPFS client on their device, users can opt to use a public gateway.
WHY IPFS MAY IMPROVE THINGS FOR USERS:
• Increases your browser speed – With IPFS, you’ll enjoy faster speeds as it runs through neighboring nodes instead of accessing data from a centralized location in a far-away place.
• Saves you money – Since IPFS runs on a decentralized network, you’ll save money, too, as you’ll no longer have to pay for expensive server hosting.
• Preserves the integrity of older web pages – Ever wondered what happens to your websites when you die? If your site relies on centralized social networks, it can suffer from ‘link rot’ and disappear forever – bringing your memories down with it. With a distributed IPFS system, your website will no longer be at the mercy of a central server as it will operate across a decentralized network instead.
• Protects your privacy – IPFS crucially makes it more difficult for governments to block websites, such as Wikipedia, as it’s not dependent on central servers like HTTP.
HOW DOES IPFS STORE FILES?
All files are kept as so-called IPFS objects in the IPFS system. Only 256 KBs of data can be stored in each object due to space restrictions. Each object can store links that point to other IPFS objects in addition to the 256 KBs of data.
An image can be used as an example here if the file has more data than 256 KB. The InterPlanetary File System breaks the file into a number of smaller objects that each do not exceed the 256 KB limit in order to allow it to be stored in the system.
The system adds one more empty object after the file has been divided, which links to all objects that hold the image’s data.This system is very simple, but it can be very powerful if it is utilized in the right way.
Versioning & Commits
The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) supports something called versioning. This means that if someone wants to share a file that they are working on, the IPFS creates a new commit object. This commit object simply refers to the commit that came prior to that one and links to that version of the file. In the first version of the file, the commit object will not refer to any commit prior to that since none exists.
When a new version of the file is uploaded to the IPFS, the system generates a new commit object that links to the most recent version of the file while referencing the previous commit object. It is possible to repeat this procedure indefinitely. Then, IPFS makes sure that each of the system’s nodes has access to every commit and every version of the file.
These features of IPFS are possible due to something known as Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs). This type of data structure means that each node in the network has its own hash for its content. More specifically, the DAG utilized by the IPFS is a Merkel DAG. This is due to the fact that this type of DAG is ideal for representing directories and files.
The IPFS concept is very promising and offers a good replacement for the current internet infrastructure. With all of the advantages of the IPFS, a number of disadvantages and restrictions must be taken into account.
One limitation of the system is the availability of the files in the system. Every node in the system keeps a cache of the files they have downloaded and helps share this file once a request from another node arrives. If an image, for example, is hosted by two nodes in the system, they are able to share this image with anyone requesting it. However, the problem occurs when the nodes with the file available go offline. If they do this, then there is no way the other nodes in the system can access the file. So, how does the system deal with this problem?
Actually, there are two approaches to this issue. The two approaches are to actively distribute the file and to encourage nodes to share it. Filecoin enters the picture in this situation.
Filecoin was developed by the IPFS developers and is essentially a blockchain that sits on top of the IPFS network. A decentralized storage market is what Filecoin seeks to establish. This means that if your hard drive has open space, you may rent it out to others and make money doing so.
Filecoin then provides an incentive to keep the files online for as long as possible. As long as someone keeps the files online, they will receive rewards. Along with this, Filecoin helps keep several copies of the files on different nodes to ensure that the files are as available as possible.