Decentralized data storage in the blockchain

Store data decentrally and independently with blockchain Improve data storage with blockchain technologies. Blockchain technology also plays an important role in data storage. For example, if certain documents are to be classified as verifiably original, the blockchain is ideal. In the future, it is expected that there will be more decentralized storage technologies that rely on blockchain technologies.

When a particular document, such as a contract, is stored on a file server, its identity is largely established and traceable. However, if copies are sent by email and stored in other data storage locations, it is no longer possible to trace which document is the original document with the content accepted as original by all parties involved.

This can be ensured with blockchain technology, as here it can be clearly defined which document is meant, even if copies are in transit at different locations. In many cases, it is necessary to define which copy of a document is the reference point for all others.

Blockchain verifies documents

Blockchain technologies allow documents to be verified and tracked transparently. The blockchain can be used to verify exactly whether a document still corresponds to its original state. In practice, cloud storage in particular will also offer support for such scenarios in the future and work together with blockchains. Of course, it is to be expected that private cloud solutions will also be able to offer corresponding functions. Particularly in the case of health data, it is not enough to simply store it somewhere; here in particular, verification, encryption and transparency play an important role. Blockchain technologies are already being used in parts here.

Decentralized approach to data storage

In traditional data storage, files are stored centrally in most cases. Of course, data storage can be distributed, synchronized and replicated across multiple data centers, but still the storage is assigned below a central instance, for example Amazon S3 or Microsoft Azure Blob Storage. In many cases, cloud operators are accused of working with intelligence agencies and governments.

It is also quite possible for hackers to gain unauthorized access to data in a centralized storage system. Simply put, businesses and users must entrust a third party with their data and hope that the third party will handle the data responsibly and not allow unauthorized individuals to access the data.

If data were stored using the blockchain approach, there would be no central access point; instead, data would be stored in a decentralized manner on individual clients, as is common with blockchain. This eliminates the need for centralized data centers, and data is securely stored in encrypted form on different computers. Since the data is no longer stored in a centralized manner, hacker attacks on a single access point are quite unlikely.

Store data decentrally and independently with blockchain

Furthermore, in countries with rather restrictive governments, such as Turkey, China or Russia, governments may block access to certain storage providers. With a decentralized approach via blockchain, this is hardly possible. In China, for example, storage is not possible with many cloud providers. Such restrictions can be prevented when using blockchain technologies.

Such storage options are currently still a vision of the future, but may well become a reality in the near future. Many storage providers are already working with blockchain and are constantly developing new functions and areas of application. These include IT giants such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google. But new approaches, as described in the next section, also enable the utility of blockchain for secure and distributed data storage.

Filecoin, Storj and InterPlanetary File System

Approaches already exist, as with the Filecoin project. Here, decentralized data storage in collaboration with blockchain technologies is already available. The project is currently in the testing phase. In the following one video, the possibilities of the new storage system are presented in more detail.

  • Another example is the open source project InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). Here, too, data is not stored centrally, but decentrally. IPFS behaves similarly to HTTP, i.e. it is a hypermedia protocol for the Internet.
  • When uploading data with IPFS, the data is divided into fragments/blocks.
  • The fragments are given their own hashes and are stored decentrally on nodes in the network. IPFS works in conjunction with Bitcoin.

Storj is a cloud storage with end-to-end encryption and integrated blockchain technology. The provider does not provide any storage itself. Users who use the network provide a portion of their storage space to Storj. Other users can use the storage space of these “farmers.” When data is stored in Storj, the files are split up and the different blocks are stored encrypted on different computers of the farmers. Only the owner of the file knows where all fragments are stored. For this purpose, he needs his private key to access the hash table of the corresponding file. The individual fragments themselves cannot be read out, nor do they provide any information on which other farmer computers the remaining fragments of the file are stored.

Storj regularly checks whether the Farmer computers are still online and prefers nodes that are particularly reliably available and have the appropriate bandwidth. Normally, a fragment is stored not only on one node, but at least on three nodes in the Storj network. If one node is not online, two others are still available.

Conclusion

There are already starting points and projects that actively use blockchain for data storage. In the future, we can expect to see more decentralized storage technologies that rely on blockchain technologies. In any case, the possibility of adopting blockchain technology in the storage sector is an exciting factor that can revolutionize storage technology in the coming years.