When it comes to storing data, businesses can often feel inundated with options from a whole host of different providers all promising to offer competitive rates and the security of your businesses’ assets. Add blockchain solutions into the mix as well, and decision-makers have a lot to be weighing up when choosing the best solution for their business.
With cloud-based technologies and blockchain in particular, jargon can be a problem when it comes to fully understanding the principles and mechanics at play. For this reason, many business leaders may dismiss these technologies, without considering the benefits they could offer. So, what exactly is Filecoin?
A new way to store data
In short, Filecoin is a decentralized, peer-to-peer digital storage network, built with blockchain infrastructure. In this sense, it is like Bitcoin — however, the nodes in the network store data, guaranteed by a proof-of-retrievability component. Beyond just storing data alone, Filecoin also enables organizations and users to rent out the hard disk space that they do not use. In fact, users are actively incentivized to do this, as they receive Filecoin tokens (FIL) for any storage space rented to others, which is an obvious benefit to choosing this storage solution over more traditional options.
In terms of how this works, when users have storage available, they can become ‘storage miners’. Essentially, this means that they are accountable for storing data on the Filecoin network. Similarly, ‘retrieval miners’ facilitate the retrieval process between clients and storage miners. Retrieval miners also receive Filecoin tokens for enabling this process. All of this occurs within a distributed system, where all files are kept secure across multiple locations with end-to-end encryption.
There are many advantages to storing data in this way, but perhaps one of the most pertinent benefits is the fact that organizations do not need to entrust all of their company data with just one provider. With data spread amongst various providers, businesses can avoid the risks associated with leaving their data with one company, which can create a single point of failure, should things go amiss in the event that any data is compromised. Likewise, storage providers do not have access to the decryption keys to access data, so users and organizations using the Filecoin system can benefit from the pseudonymity offered by blockchain technologies.
Leveling the playing field
It perhaps goes without saying that big industry players like Dell and Amazon’s AWS monopolize the market. As a result, businesses typically fall into the trap of staying loyal to one provider for long periods of time, with the ultimate outcome of this being high fees, lengthy contracts, and overall, a less competitive market. A key advantage of Filecoin solutions in this regard, is the fact that they offer a fresh approach to storage — because of the increasing number of different sellers essentially offering the same item (storage), potentially at different rates, users can secure better deals if they shop around. As I have already noted, if organizations purchase surplus storage, they can sell it so that they are not wasting any of their all-important budget.
Migration to new vendors is also a much simpler task than with traditional storage solutions, due to the fact that Filecoin providers offer the same services and APIs. If users already using Filecoin for their storage find a more suitable provider further down the line, they can transfer their data with ease directly between different providers, without the burden of manually downloading and re-uploading files, which can be an incredibly cumbersome process.
For those looking into utilizing Filecoin, choosing the most appropriate provider for your organization should be a more egalitarian process than usual, as Filecoin providers do not typically rely on the big marketing and advertising campaigns of industry titans. Instead, businesses can weigh up their decision more independently by consulting providers’ track-records published on the blockchain, which ensures that they will be getting exactly what is promised. If in doubt, they can reach out directly to storage providers to ask any questions to open up a dialogue about the solution in question.
Ultimately, the way that we store and access data has changed dramatically in recent years, and many organizations would benefit from taking the next step by investing in the thriving blockchain community for their storage requirements.
Image credit: FreerLaw/depositphotos.com
Chris Starkey is the founder and director of NexGen Cloud, a GPU cloud rental and decentralised storage business focused on building affordable and sustainable infrastructure solutions for Web 3.0. NexGen believes public cloud businesses do not provide enough transparency with pricing and offers these services up to 8 times cheaper than AWS, Microsoft and Google. The storage arm of NexGen Cloud is currently the largest decentralised storage project in Europe and is on track to become one of the world’s largest by the end of 2022.