A replacement for HTTP: Do you understand the IPFS distributed storage?

IPFS is a star project that has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. Many miners and investors have invested in IPFS-related areas as early as three years ago. As Filecoin mainnet went online on October 15, 2020, FIL mining topped the trending searches list for days, even surpassing Bitcoin and Ethereum at one time. Why do so many investors and institutions favor IPFS? Why is IPFS so widely recognized as the replacement of HTTP? If you want to get involved in the IPFS project, you have to learn more about it.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol: HTTP

To some extent, IPFS represents the development of this Internet era. It is an innovative technology set to revolutionize HTTP. We are all familiar with HTTP. We often see ‘http’ at the beginning of a web address during our daily browsing of the internet. In fact, HTTP has been the pivotal protocol that supports the World Wide Web (WWW) since the 1990s. HTTP is the abbreviation for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In our daily browsing activities, HTTP acts as a request-response protocol. It determines the data interaction between the client and the server. It transmits a variety of data such as text, images, and videos. It can be said that without HTTP, we would not have the freedom of internet surfing.

HTTP has evolved and underwent multiple versions of upgrades. However, the advancement of the Internet has made the shortcomings of HTTP increasingly prominent. HTTP is highly centralized. Users often encounter all sorts of problems when using HTTP. For example, HTTP is vulnerable to hacker attacks, the data storage cost is too high, centralized data management is risky, large-scale data transmission and maintenance is difficult. When we try to log in to our regular websites, we are often confronted with problems such as missing web pages (404), web pages not opening, server rejecting requests, and gateway timeouts. Under this circumstance, a new concept called “peer-to-peer distributed storage” has emerged.

A brief history of the development of transport protocols

In 2003, Bram Cohen’s self-developed content distribution protocol Bit Torrent was launched. BT is designed for sharing large files on peer-to-peer networks. The more popular a file is, the faster a user will be able to download it. Bit Torrent is considered more advantageous than HTTP because it is designed to be that whoever downloads the file will also uploads the data to other users at the same time. The more people downloading the same file, the faster everyone’s download speed will be. This smart design solves the network congestion issue of traditional single source download caused by too many download requests.

In the following years, systems such as HadoopHDFS (Big Data Distributed File System), Lustre, GPFS, Sia, Storj, Lambda, Ultrain, and MASS have emerged one after another. Amid all these new developments, one project successfully raised $257 million and became the global focus. In May 2014, a computer scientist named Juan Benet launched the IPFS project. It utilizes the blockchain technology as the basis for a distributed storage solution. In January 2015, IPFS Protocol Lab was established and the IPFS project is officially released. In June 2017, IPFS has stored more than 5 billion files. In July of the same year, the IPFS project team announced the establishment of the Filecoin project. On October 15, 2020, the IPFS mainnet was officially launched. Its incentive layer FIL token was officially opened for trading.

The celebrated project: IPFS

IPFS (Interplanetary File System) is a typical peer-to-peer distributed file system. It is designed to connect separate computing devices to the same file system. Compared with HTTP, IPFS is also a WEB hypermedia protocol. It is designed to transfer data between the user and the server. The key difference is that IPFS works on multiple nodes. It does not operate on centralized servers as HTTP does. At the same time, IPFS also has other advantages over HTTP such as fast download speed for distributed transfers, global storage, perpetual data storage, high security for private key encryption, and decentralization to guarantee a high level of data privacy. IPFS also has low storage prices. It also provides FIL incentives for node contributions.

Compared with traditional HTTP, IPFS has obvious advantages. With the development of Internet technology, the demand for transmission protocols will continues to grow. IPFS is being adopted by more and more organizations and institutions. On February 10, 2020, the IPFS Protocol Lab released the IPFS 2020 project highlights. It showed that in the year of 2019, the IPFS public network increased 30 times with thousands of nodes participating in the IPFS network every day and millions of users accessing the IPFS gateway every week.

In the IPFS ecosystem, there are already hundreds of DAPPs, tools, and projects contributing to or benefit from IPFS. These partners include Microsoft Azure cloud computing IPFS version (Beta), Microsoft ION, 3box, etc. From these data, it is easy to see the inevitable trend that IPFS will replace HTTP.

Conclusion

The active participation and contribution from global individuals and communities are indispensable to IPFS’s advancement. As of now, IPFS has been successfully applied in a variety of areas such as data storage, file transfer, web video, social media, and decentralized trading. IPFS is supporting hundreds of tools, applications, and projects. There is little doubt that IPFS is the trend of the future. IPFS-based applications and platforms will reconstruct the entire internet and change everyone’s life.

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