Monday, June 26, 2017

What is the InterPlanetary File System?

TheMerkle IPFS Decentralized File Storage

In the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency, decentralization is key. This often leads to some new and exciting innovations, to say the least. The Interplanetary File System is one of those innovations which more people should pay attention to. Now is a good time to take a closer look at what IPFS has to offer and how it will shape the future of our society.

The Interplanetary File System Embraces Decentralized File Storage and Sharing

It is quite interesting to see how many projects are working on decentralized file storage and sharing right now. We have recently highlighted a few of those projects, including Storj and Sia. However, one of the first initiatives to fully embrace this concept goes by the name of the InterPlanetary File System, also known as IPFS. This protocol is established on top of the Bitcoin blockchain.

However, when the project was officially launched back in 2016, the InterPlanetary File System embraced the Ethereum blockchain rather than Bitcoin’s. The reasoning behind this decision was due to Ethereum supporting innovative features, whereas Bitcoin did not at that time. Considering how the Ethereum blockchain has been hit with congestion issues lately, it remains to be seen if that was a wise decision, though.

More specifically, IPFS makes use of this peer-to-peer technology to create a permanent solution for sharing and storing files in a decentralized manner. Similar to cryptocurrency ecosystems, IPFS uses network nodes to effectively distribute the files stored in the protocol. It also ensures no one node is storing all of the data, removing any central point of failure the network may provide otherwise. IPFS is an open source project, which can be found on GitHub.

Having a viable solution to store files in a decentralized manner and not having to worry about data being altered is quite invaluable. Moreover, the InterPlanetary File System is capable of removing duplicated files across the network. Various implementations of this technology exist, such as the Go and JavaScript versions. There is also a Python implementation, although it is still a work in progress at this time.

In a perfect scenario, IPFS will connect all computing devices around the world by using the same system of files. One could argue this technology can create a decentralized Internet, although that is not entirely true. At best, IPFS can provide a storage model and content-addressed hyperlinks, but it would not be a fully functional internet by any means. It is a filesystem first and foremost, although its real life applications can always be expanded upon moving forward.

Earlier this year, the IPFS developers made a rather surprising announcement. It is believed they are working on a way to integrate blockchain applications moving forward. More specifically, the goal is to link blockchain data between different ecosystems. It would effectively serve as a bridge to connect all existing blockchains in existence today. The team hinted at connecting the Ethereum and ZCash blockchains at some point, albeit other connections can be made with relative ease as well.

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from The Merkle