Arweave or Why We Should Move to Decentralized Storage
A recent survey has shown decreasing shipments of storage media, with worldwide shipment of Hard Disk Drives (HDD) projected to fall to an all time ten year low in 2020.
This is because current storage trends are moving towards more mobile, but connected, devices that integrate into our daily life or lifestyle.
Though there are big advances in terms of storage capacity and density, the storage capacity built into most devices, specially mobile or laptop are not increasing by an appreciable amount.
Such storage is still not enough to cover storing every aspect of media that one creates, consumes or wishes to retain. This is because of the increasing size of pictures and video thanks to high quality, high definition cameras and the demand for HD media.
In addition, the growing markets for VR, big data, machine learning and AI mean that growth for storage will be at a premium because the aforementioned fields require a lot of storage capacity to store the huge amounts of data they are generating or using.
For personal use, the technical difficulty of setting up a personal NAS (Network Access Storage) or upgrading/building a PC to cover your storage needs is sadly out of the reach of many people. And so a market for online storage services has popped up with browser enabled interfaces that allow anyone to setup an account and start storing. Though cost per gigabyte is dropping, recurring storage fees and access fees add a financial burden that can add up over the years.
On the enterprise side, storing (specially archiving) large amounts of data is typically a daunting task that typically requires expertise and capital. Typical solutions are to expand current storage in already built servers, add more servers or seek outside storage from a professional storage provider on the cloud. In addition, planning for storage expansion is a task often left to professionals because of the complexity in planning and integrating expansion. Sudden spikes in need for storage might outstrip already installed capacity and an expansion will take some time or cost money when quick outsourcing of storage is necessary.
Online services, or cloud storage solutions were billed as the solution to the problems of complexity and need to scale quickly. But storing on the cloud still has disadvantages, most especially in cost over time as you have to pay for monthly storage and access, which in the long run adds up.
Enter Arweave - The Blockchain Data Storage
Arweave is a revolutionary blockchain service that combines the best of both worlds by enabling “Pay Once, Store Forever” data storage with free access to data stored on their blockchain.
The table below compares the different storage solutions available today with Arweave:
|Arweave||PC Upgrade||Personal NAS Storage||Cloud Storage||Enterprise Server Upgrade||Enterprise Cloud|
|Storage Amount||No Limits||Limited by SATA ports||Limited by NAS Capacity||Technically no limit||Limited by budget or space||Technically no limit|
|Cost per Access||None||None||None||Typically yes||None||Yes|
|Access Speed||Dependent on network||Dependent on Storage Media||Dependent on network||Dependent on network||Dependent on network||Dependent on network|
|Backups||Yes||Typically no||Typically no||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Accessible Anywhere?||Yes||Typically no||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Read our comprehensive Arweave review article.
Use cases for Arweave storage
Arweave’s unique set of competencies lends itself well to several fields of application:
- Provable media reporting - through the use of timestamps and tracing where source of news came from. Perpetual storage of news should also serve as a good starting point for the recording of history.
- Academic papers and research - timestamped and perpetual storage enables easy archiving of academic papers.
- Data collection - time stamped data ensures accuracy and prevents data from being tampered with.
- Immutable records - storage of contracts or agreements, timestamp, immutability and permanence of records on chain could be a game changer for important records or documents.
- Archiving - archiving of important data is a high cost and technical affair. Arweave’s permanent data storage enables this task to be done with ease by anyone.
- Day to day storage - The “Pay Once, Store Forever” model enables storage and access at a much lower cost in total than storing on the cloud or buying hard drives. In addition, there is less risk in storing on Arweave because data is distributed in a decentralized fashion, thus eliminating the threat of a hardware failure wiping your data.
How does Arweave work?
Arweave blockchain is built using 4 key technologies:
Blockweave - Nodes do not need to download the whole blockchain! Just download hash of previous blocks, current block and list of active wallets. This is different in comparison to bitcoin and other blockchains where you have to download gigabytes of data to run a full node.
Proof of Access - Is Arweave’s consensus mechanism. Proof of access incorporates some elements of Proof of work but without the downsides of large expenditure of electricity to mine. In this system the hash of a randomly chosen old block is hashed together with the current block in order to generate the next block. Miners distribute hash of old block along with new block to other members of the network. Basically, the system is asking the miner: Do you have access to an older block and if so, can you use it to prove your new block?
Wildfire - Wildfire is a system that ranks the performance of nodes on the network in storing and serving data. Poorly performing nodes are blacklisted or removed from the list of active nodes. The ranking system based on speed makes for automatic network routing based on speed and availability with the capability of automatically routing to avoid downed connections. Wildfire ensures network speed and uptime.
Blockshadows - Blocks contain typically large amounts of data and propagating these can take some time due to their size. With Blockshadow, there is no need to send the whole block between each node. Nodes only need to send the hash of the block and then it can be reconstructed to form a whole block. The hash contains the wallet list and a hash list (list of all transactions hash).
Stats of Arweave Blockchain Storage:
- 5000 transactions per second on 100mbps network greatly improves upon Bitcoin (7 transactions per second) and Ethereum (15 transactions per second)
- Low transaction fees even if network usage is high. In comparison, transaction costs on Ethereum and other blockchains increase if network usage is high.
- As the amount of data stored in the system increases, the amount of hashing needed for consensus decreases, thus reducing the cost of storing data and electricity usage.
- Once the document is stored on the weave, it is cryptographically linked with every other block on the weave thus ensuring authenticity and immutability.
- Documents or files uploaded are time stamped thus making it easy to verify who uploaded what first.
- Decentralized storage means that there is no single point of failure capable of wiping out data stored on Arweave.
The multitude of technologies powering Arweave may sound a bit too complicated to comprehend, but the team have worked hard to make Arweave user-friendly.
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Blockchain Accessibility, easy as point and click
One persistent problem that blockchain has not really tackled yet, is ease of use. Interfacing with blockchains still requires an understanding of how everything works and really isn't the easy point and click (or tap) affair that most people are used to.
To combat this, Arweave is launching with REST APIs enabled. REST API stands for REpresentational State Transfer, Application Programming Interface. This basically allows Arweave’s blockchain to interface with your web browser and makes it easy for developers to write apps for mobile and desktop that allow full access to the functionality that Arweave offers but still provide ease of use. In addition, REST APIs should allow integration with existing apps so adding a “Store on Arweave” button should be very easy to do.
In summation, Arweave has a combination of outstanding features that positions it as the solution for a myriad of storage problems. It is very probable that Arweave will bring a paradigm shift to the way we approach storage and the way we interact with blockchain. We look forward to the mass adoption of Arweave.
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