Decentrafile is made possible because of three different things called cryptography, peer2peer networks, and blockchains. These form the new internets free public decentralized cloud file storage system.
No file is ever actually uploaded or stored anywhere, so how’s it work?
We say that no file is ever uploaded or stored as a file on our hosting or someone else server. It’s because of the peer2peer network called IPFS, the Inter-Planetary File System. It doesn’t exist without its participating users. They host something called a “node”.
Nodes are software that runs somewhere like your computer at home or a central web server. They connect you to the peer2peer networks storage system, the Inter-Planetary File System, and serve another function.
Some nodes are private, which means you can’t connect to the Inter-Planetary File System through it; only the person hosting it can and who they allow. It is ideal for world governments and enterprise systems that do not want a third party like Decentrafile handling their data in the middle. We do not store your files before they are sent to the IPFS network to get broken down into pieces.
Some nodes are public, like the one Decentrafile uses for the link you use to view the files you upload from our decentralized apps home page. Here is the link http://yourlink.decentrafile.com/ipfs/hash_goes_here
Now you know the first thing Inter-Planetary File System nodes can do.
The second thing the IPFS nodes do and one of the most important.
When an IPFS node retrieves data from the network, it keeps a local cache for future usage, taking up space on that particular IPFS node. IPFS nodes frequently clear this cache out to make room for new content.
When you “pin” data on an IPFS node, you tell that node that the information is essential and should get saved. Pinning prevents critical data from being deleted from your node when the clearing process happens. However, you can only control and pin data on your node(s).
You can not force other nodes on the IPFS network to pin your content for you. So, to guarantee your content stays pinned, you have to run your IPFS nodes—Decentrafile does not pin your uploads but uses the node gateway to Infura.io. Pinning services cost money like Pinata and soon Infura will offer it. You can ask for a custom installation on your Decentrafile USB Drive.
Your upload can last days, weeks, months, or years. The gateway you upload to is responsible for clearing the file cache of your hash if it is not pinned. Decentrafile is short to medium-term file storage and can be long-term if your upload is pinned. You can run your own node.
The peer2peer network exists because people like you and I get incentivized by getting given Filecoin.io. The Inter-Planetary File System will store some of those little cryptographic pieces of the files you are uploading. You can then sell those Filecoin you are rewarded with for helping store data on the Inter-Planetary File System.
Just a recap. Many people’s computers are all running the software Lotus which ‘mines’ Filecoin. Mining on Filecoin means getting rewarded for hosting the encrypted file hashes and storing new file pieces. Those unrecognizable pieces get put back together to view or download. When you visit your file hash in our URL, you go through a public node to access the IPFS storage to view the file. Then to remember, the file gets pinned to Infura.io, so it doesn’t get cached into the wind.
You can use a browser like Brave, where you can paste your hash in the URL bar like this ipfs://hash_goes_here or use a Chrome extension.
So now you know how decentralized file storage works. You can learn all about IPFS here https://docs.ipfs.io/concepts/how-ipfs-works/ on a technical level if you are a developer.
Welcome to the metaverse human. Enjoy Decentrafile.