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    I was really interested in IPFS a few years ago, but ultimately was disappointed that there seemed to be no passive way to host content. I’d like to have had the option to say along the lines o “I’m going to donate 5GB for hosting IPFS data, and the software will take care of the rest”.

    My understanding was that, one has to explicitly mark some file as something you’d like to serve too, and only then will be really be permanent. Unless it got integrated into a browser-like boomark system, I have the feeling that most content will be lost because. Can anyone who has been following their developments tell me if they have improved on this situation?

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      I thought they were planning to use a cryptocurrency (“Filecoin”) to incentivize hosting. I’m not really sure how that works though. I guess you “mine” Filecoins by hosting other people’s files, and then spend Filecoins to get other people to host your files.

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        This is a hard problem to solve, because you want to prevent people from flooding all hosters; so there has to be either some kind of PoW or money involved. And with money involved, there’s now an incentive for hosters to misbehave, so you have to deal with them, and this is hard; there are some failed projects that tried to address it.

        IPFS’ authors’ solution to this is Filecoin which, afaik, they had in mind since the beginning of IPFS, but it’s not complete yet.

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          My understanding was that, one has to explicitly mark some file as something you’d like to serve too,

          Sort of… my recollection is that when you run an IPFS node (which is just another peer on the network), you can host content on IPFS via your node, or you can pull content from the network through your node. If you publish content to your node, the content will always be available as long as your node is online. If another node on the network fetches your content, it will only be cached on the other node for some arbitrary length of time. So the only way to host something permanently on IPFS is to either run a node yourself or arrange for someone else’s node to keep your content in their cache (probably by paying them). It’s a novel protocol with interesting technology but from a practical standpoint, doesn’t seem to have much benefit over the traditional Internet in terms of content publishing and distribution, except for the fact that everything can be massively (and securely) cached.

          There are networks where you hand over a certain amount of disk space to the network and are then supposedly able to store your content (distributed, replicated) on other nodes around the Internet. But IPFS isn’t one of those.

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            There are networks where you hand over a certain amount of disk space to the network and are then supposedly able to store your content (distributed, replicated) on other nodes around the Internet.

            What are some of them? Is Storj one of those?

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              Freenet is one. You set aside an amount of disk space and encrypted chunks of files will be stored on your node. Another difference from IPFS is that when you add content to Freenet it pushes it out to other nodes immediately, so you can turn your node off and the content remains in the network through the other nodes.

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                VP Eng of Storj here! Yes, Storj is (kinda) one of them, with money as an intermediary. Without getting into details, if you give data to Storj, as long as you have enough STORJ token escrowed (or a credit card on file), you and your computers could walk away and the network will keep your data alive. You can earn STORJ tokens by sharing your hard drive space.

                The user experience actually mimics AWS much more than you’d guess for a decentralized cryptocurrency storage product. Feel free to email me (jt@storj.io) if some lobste.rs community members want some free storage to try it out: https://tardigrade.io/satellites/

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                  Friend, I’ve been following your work for ages and have had no real incentive to try it. As a distributed systems nerd, I love what you’ve come up with. The thing which worries me is this bit:

                  decentralized cryptocurrency storage product.

                  I’m actually really worried about the cryptocurrency part of this, since it imbues an otherwise-interesting product with a high degree of sketchiness. Considering that cryptocurrency puts you in the same boat as Bitcoin (and the now-defunct art project Ponzicoin), why should I rethink things? Eager to learn more facts in this case. Thanks for taking the time to comment in the first place!

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                    I guess there’s a couple of things you might be saying here, and I’m not sure which, so I’ll respond to all of them!

                    On the technical side:

                    One thing that separates Storj (v3) from Sia, Maidsafe, Filecoin, etc, is that there really is no blockchain element whatsoever in the actual storage platform itself. The whitepaper I linked above is much more akin to a straight distributed systems pedigree sans blockchain than you’d imagine. Cryptocurrency is not used in the object storage hotpath at all (which I continue to maintain would be latency madness) - it’s only used for the economic system of background settlement. The architecture of the storage platform itself would continue to work fine (albeit less conveniently) if we swapped cryptocurrency for live goats.

                    That said, it’s hard to subdivide goats in a way that retain many of the valuable properties of live goats. I think live goats make for a good example of why we went with cryptocurrency for the economic side of storage node operation - it’s really much more convenient to automate.

                    As a user, though, our primary “Satellite” nodes will absolutely just take credit cards. If you look up “Tardigrade Cloud Storage”, you will be able to sign up and use the platform without learning one thing about cryptocurrency. In fact, that’s the very reason for the dual brands (tardigrade.io vs storj.io)

                    On the adoption side:

                    At a past cloud storage company I worked at before AWS existed, we spent a long time trying to convince companies it was okay to back up their most sensitive data offsite. It was a challenge! Now everyone takes it for granted. I think we are in a similar position at Storj, except now the challenge is decentralization and cryptocurrency.

                    On the legal/compliance side:

                    Yeah, cryptocurrency definitely has the feeling of a wild west saloon in both some good ways and bad. To that end, Storj has spent a significant investment in corporate governance. There’s definitely a lot of bad or shady actors in the ecosystem, and it’s painfully obvious that by choosing cryptocurrency we exist within that ecosystem and are often judged by the actions of neighbors. We’re not only doing everything we can to follow existing regulations with cryptocurrency tokens, we’re doing our best to follow the laws we think the puck could move towards, and follow those non-existent laws as well. Not that it makes a difference to you if you’re averse to the ecosystem in general, but Storj has been cited as an example of how to deal with cryptocurrency compliance the right way. There’s definitely a lot of uncertainty in the ecosystem, but our legal and compliance team are some of the best in the business, and we’re making sure to not only walk on the right side of the line, but stay far away from lines entirely.

                    Without going into details I admit that’s a bit vague.

                    Anyway, given the length of my response you can tell your point is something I think a lot about too. I think the cryptocurrency ecosystem desperately needs a complete shaking out of unscrupulous folks, and it seems like that’s about as unlikely to happen as a complete shaking out of unscrupulous folks from tons of other money-adjacent industries, but perhaps the bar doesn’t have to be raised very far to make things better.

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                      The lack of a blockchain is a selling point. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I’ll check out the whitepaper ASAP!

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                        if we swapped cryptocurrency for live goats.

                        … I kinda want to live in this world

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                You might want to check out Arweave.org.

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                  I have the feeling that most content will be lost

                  Only if the person hosting it turns off their server? IPFS isn’t a storage system, like freenet, but a protocol that allows you to fetch data from anywhere it is stored on the network (for CDN, bandwidth, and harder-to-block). The person making the content available is still expected to bother storing/serving it somewhere themselves, just like with the normal web.

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                    If you want to donate some disk space you can start following some of the clusters here: https://collab.ipfscluster.io .

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                    I really would like to have a use case for ipfs, but I seem to never have one.

                    What are you using it for?

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                      Personally, I am compiling an archive of old gold questions from askscience subreddit ( and other nice sources)

                      When I’m done, I’m going to host those in IPFS, once I have some presentable content of course ;-)

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                        So basically as a static site?

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                        I’m in the same boat, I’d love to find a reason to use it since it seems so neato conceptually.

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                          I don’t use it personally, but I think a good use case is to host packages for language/distro package managers. Clearly, if you use a language at your job, there’s incentive for its ecosystem’s packages to be well duplicated and not be hostages to github’s outages. And the content addressing means packages can’t get maliciously corrupted.

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                            I‘m mostly keeping an eye on it, because it seems to be one of the contenders for a content addressable web.

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                              I think a good use would be hosting mirrors of open source software code archives.

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                                If I have to keep the node running, I can also just set up an nginx mirror. I do not see how ipfs helps here.

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                                  It is about the trustworthiness of mirrors. The current mirror system is pretty broken when many people don’t check shasums.

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                                It’s great any time you want to host a static website, basically. I use it all the time, for example for my podcast website

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                                  Okay, but why on ipfs and not on a good old vps box or even a cloud storage bucket? If you have to have your node running anyway, what’s the point of using ipfs here besides it being a cool technical concept?

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                                    You should run your IPFS server on a “good old vps box” just like you do with your web server currently. The point is that everyone who visits your site now caches parts of your site locally, and can share that cache with others. This reduces your bandwidth usage (since other visitors will get some or all of their data from not-you) and also increases your resiliency (since some or all of your site can still be loaded even when your server is temporarily down).

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                                What really disappoints me about IPFS is that, without Filecoin, it really isn’t that big of an improvement on BitTorrent. And Filecoin is both an unsolved problem and a cryptocurrency, neither of which are good for selling me on it.

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                                  Interesting. The fact that IPFS is basically just bittorrent with the swarm problem fixed is exactly what attracted me to it.

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                                    What’s the swarm problem?

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                                      The easiest way to describe it in Bittorrent terms is to think about torrents for TV. Think about torrents for single episodes and season packs. If I grab a single-episode torrent, and it has no seeders, but then I grab a full-season torrent and choose only the file for that episode and it works, this is (IMHO) a serious flaw.

                                      Bittorrent swarms form around “a torrent” as described by an infohash, and so having more data even if you also have the same data as another torrent breaks you into two swarms.

                                      IPFS is just one swarm. So if my website has the CC-BY-SA icon, and so does your website, then even if every single other part of the site is different visitors to your site will help seed the content for that icon to visitors to my website.