IPFS Explained

by CUTcoin team
The sharing economy is growing at a rapid pace. Soon, it will hold a considerable share in the global economy. One of the core technologies that will play a critical role in the global sharing economy is known as Interplanetary File System, popularly referred to as IPFS. So, what is IPFS? We will explain it in this article.

The interplanetary file system will change how we share information. It will drastically alter how we distribute information globally.

Straightforwardly speaking, IPFS is a peer-to-peer file-sharing system. But IPFS is not a standalone innovation. Instead, it consists of several innovations made in communication and distributed protocols space. You must be wondering what exactly IPFS is trying to achieve here. We will decipher all that IPFS is aiming to accomplish, but for that, we will have to know the systems involved in making IPFS in-depth.
How Does IPFS Work?
Concept-wise, you can compare IPFS to the World Wide Web. It acts more like a BitTorrent Swarm, where one can exchange files within a single Git repository. The distribution of files happens through a protocol that is based on BitTorrent.

The protocol has been designed in such a manner that it has accorded IPFS with the Internet's historic version, like that of Git. Each file and block have a unique identifier in IPFS. These unique identifiers are known as a cryptographic hash in blockchain terminology.

There is a unique advantage of this system, as this ensures that there are no duplicates across the network. It is because the duplicates are identified and removed from the network. At the same time, the versions of every file on the network are tracked.

So, what are the other main benefits? If you have been using the internet for some time, then you must have seen an instance when some webpages you tried accessing were not available. There are a variety of reasons behind this, including bankrupted web hosts or a failure of a server. IPFS ensures that content on the web pages remains available in every situation.

Guaranteed Authenticity

With IPFS, you do not have to worry about the authenticity of the content. IPFS ensures that the content is authentic. When you request any file, the system starts looking for the nodes that are storing the content that you are requesting. As the content is stored, under a unique cryptographic, you can rest assure that the content will be as authentic as they come.

Merkle Directed Acyclic Graphs data architecture makes it possible to link the nodes in IPFS as cryptographic hashes. It benefits the IPFS as Merkle DAG makes sure that content is authentic, there is no duplicate content on the network, and the data within the network remains tamper-proof.

Every file structure on IPFS is in link with one another via Merkle links. There is also a decentralized naming system in place, which makes it possible to find every file by names that are readable by humans. This naming system is known as IPNS.

The importance of the Merkle DAG cannot be downplayed. It is very important for the functionality of the IPFS protocol.

All the nodes play an integral part in the IPFS network. They only store the content in which they are interested. These nodes are also able to figure out which node is storing what as they also index the information. There are no centralized servers in IPFS as the IPFS framework removes the need for it.

In time, we will see that HTTP protocol will become irrelevant as IPFS takes the central stage. With IPFS, users would be able to access content even in an offline mode.

Once IPFS takes over the HTTP protocol, users will not have to search for servers. Instead, they will be searching for cryptographic hashes, known as unique IDs. It will enable you to get the file that you are searching, from the millions of computers and not just from a single server.

Advantages of IPFS
  1. IPFS will make it possible for users to communicate among themselves even when the communication network is blocked.
  2. As IPFS does not require any servers, the creators will be able to distribute their content without any cost.
  3. Because of the higher bandwidth of IPFS, data load is faster.

Disadvantages of IPFS
  1. Due to a complex system, IPFS installation is very problematic. Thus, it is not as user-friendly as its peer technologies are.
  2. The metered internet users will not appreciate IPFS at the moment as it consumes a lot of bandwidth.
  3. PFS is currently limited to only tech enthusiasts. Therefore, there is less number of people who use IPFS. It tends to cause a shortage of nodes on the IPFS network.

There's no doubt that IPFS is a very complex protocol. It is equally complicated in terms of technology and concept. At the same time, we should appreciate the fact that IPFS is one of the top contenders among technologies that have the potential to revolutionize the internet industry for good. It will change how we exchange data on the web. But one cannot downplay the importance of HTTP in the growth of the internet. HTTP has played a critical role in the current worldwide adoption of the internet as we know it now. Yet, with the rise of emerging technologies, there is a need for reformation in the internet infrastructure space.
With a growing number of users joining the IPFS network, we will see its clout growing. It will help support new-age technologies such as the Internet of Things. For the further growth of the sharing economy, IPFS will have to grow in terms of users. It is going to be interesting to see how things will play out for IPFS and the sharing economy in the future.