Interplanetary File System Could Pave the Way for a Distributed, Permanent Web
“IPFS is general purpose, and has little in the way of storage limitations,” wrote Neocities founder Kyle Drake in a blog post announcing his company’s decision to become the first major website to implement IPFS. “It can serve files that are large or small. It automatically breaks up larger files into smaller chunks, allowing IPFS nodes to download (or stream) files from not just one server like with HTTP, but hundreds of them simultaneously. The IPFS network becomes a finely-grained, trust-less, distributed, easily federated content delivery network (CDN). This is useful for pretty much everything involving data: images, video streaming, distributed databases, entire operating systems, blockchains, backups of 8-inch floppy disks, and most important for us, static web sites.”
Ultimately, these core notions behind IPFS may be one solution to build a distributed, permanent web. It’s one possible alternative to the brittle and hypercentralized system that we’ve now arrived at with outdated protocols like HTTP — and potentially a useful hedge against an uncertain future.
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Decentralized File Sharing, Explained
As the digital era has progressed, the internet has become a vast and complex web of data and files that communicate using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP. As internet traffic has increased over time and the sheer volume of information transmitted has become enormous, HTTP has started to crack under this strain. For example, each time we load a web page, HTTP is used to retrieve content from centralized servers. If the content involves transmitting large files, it may consume a lot of bandwidth. If a server is taken down, a website might still exist but with missing pieces, such as images or graphic files.
Furthermore, due to a reliance on centralized servers, HTTP makes it easy to introduce censorship.
Decentralized file sharing has emerged as a solution to some of these problems. Torrenting is the best-known solution by the general public. Torrenting has been used as a way of distributing much larger files, such as audio and video, over the internet to overcome the challenges of using HTTP.
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