We’ve seen the world move from large traditional storage devices with small storage capacity to more modern devices, and now cloud storage solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive. It seems like there’s really no stopping how far we can go with technological solutions.
While cloud storage solutions may seem like a milestone, they have their limitations. Some of these include privacy concerns (these companies can access your files), and unexpected outages which can restrict access to your files. Storj is trying to solve some of these challenges facing current cloud storage solutions.
Storj is an open source, decentralized (peer-to-peer network) file storage system. The platform employs encryption, file sharding, and blockchain hash tables to store files on the network. Their goal is to make cloud storage cheaper, faster, and private. According to the company, their system is up to 10x faster and saves up to 50% more than traditional datacenter-based cloud storage solutions. For them, Storj is “a platform, a token, and a suite of tools for developers looking to build better tools and applications”.
Bonus Tip #1: Storj network comprises of farmers and renters. Farmers rent their spare hardware space and bandwidth, while renters purchase this space and bandwidth.
How does it work?
In order to understand how Storj works, let’s use a very common example. Where do you turn to when you need to see a movie and don’t have the resources to purchase the original? If you said “torrents”, then you’d be correct.
In the early 2000s, torrents became a very popular option to illegally download movies, shows, and music for free. Ever given thought to how torrents work? Let’s have a look:
When someone requests for a file on a torrent network, users who have that file send fragments (known as seeds) of what they have to the requester. The torrent software then compiles these fragments into the original file. This is why torrents are typically faster to download than the original single-sourced file. And if you want to critically look at it, law enforcement agencies have not been able to shut down torrents because it is virtually impossible to shut down every individual fragment/seed.
The above description of how torrents work, is similar to how Storj operates in four simple steps: file sharding, parity shards, end-to-end encryption, and file verification.
This means dividing your files into smaller bits before sending it to several farmers. A shard is a portion of an encrypted file to be stored on the network. Doing this has two advantages. First, sending and retrieving fragments of your shards can be done simultaneously, making for quicker transfer times. Secondly, because no single individual has the entirety of your files, your privacy is protected.
Bonus Tip #2: Storj uses a distributed hash table known as Kademlia. This enables you to locate all the shards of your original file. It is practically impossible for anyone else without your private to find the locations of your files.
Once your file is broken into fragments, it is sent to computers all across the network (farmers). In order to ensure that your files are safe, the network conducts regular verifications to confirm that they are still on the network and fragments are on more than one computer.
While sharding provides one layer of protection as earlier explained, encryption provides a second layer of protection. Before files are divided, they are first encrypted on the Storj network and only the uploader (otherwise known as tenant/renter) has the encryption key.
One common question that may arise is, what if a farmer decides to delete my file? In order the manage this, Storj completes a file verification audit every hour. For a farmer to get paid, he must prove that he still has his fragment.
In general, Storj has the capacity to transform cloud-storage business.