interplanetary file system: just another blockchain scam?

Saturday January 20th 2024 by socraticDev

The Interplanetary File System (IPFS) is a distributed file storage protocol that allows computers all over the globe to store and serve files as part of a giant peer-to-peer network. Any computer, anywhere in the world, can download the IPFS software and start hosting and serving files. If someone runs IPFS on their computer and uploads a file to the IPFS network, that file can be viewed and downloaded by anyone else in the world who is also running IPFS."

What is a file system?

A file system is a scheme for storing and organizing digital data on one or more computer hard drives or other physical media. Supervision of reading and writing processes is essential. A file system manages data location, read and write permissions, metadata, and more.

There are several file systems, favoring different use cases. Some guarantee better performance for log management (HTFS), while others are designed for large distributed systems (HDFS).


IPFS acts similarly to BitTorrent. Shared files are not stored on centralized servers but rather on users' machines. A hashing system distinguishes each file and chunk, allowing files and folders to be pieced back together from multiple peers.

The advantages of such a system include freedom from central authority and improved long-term data persistence.

So, another blockchain scam?

Not really. One of the fundamental problems of a decentralized system is failure to motivate stakeholders to participate in the long term: to share their computer resources (disk space, processing power, bandwidth, and electricity) with strangers.

Of course, IPFS is often discussed by blockchain enthusiasts. But the IPFS protocol is not necessarily linked to blockchain technologies. The idea of ​​a decentralized system is what equates IPFS with blockchain. In the case of the IPFS protocol, it's about decentralized data and file hosting.

Viewing blockchain as essentially a scam misses the mark. The goal of a decentralized information system should be to establish a reward system that motivates participants to share physical computer resources, either from personal machines or data center capacity.

For example, the FileCoin project aims to solve the incentive problem. Instead of downloading a file from centralized servers, I can download it from several sources located much closer to me: 1.5 MB from my local community college, 0.7 MB from a neighbor, and so forth.

Everyone shall be duly compensated for their file sharing contribution.

I wanted to share my recent discovery of the InterPlanetary File System. Going over the main aspects, I generally agree with the concept. But I am far from being an expert and, if this new decentralized protocol pleases you too, I invite you to dig deeper or even participate in the project!

Originally written in French.


Cloudflare Docs - Interplanetary File System (IPFS)

IPFS - Discover What's Out There with IPFS

Juan Benet's homepage

Filecoin is an open-source cloud storage marketplace, protocol, and incentive layer.