What is an IPFS Pinning Service?

And Why They Are Useful

Kyle Tut
Kyle Tut
Mar 26, 2020 · 3 min read

The Interplanetary File System, or IPFS, is a distributed storage network made up of “nodes” or computers all over the world where people and apps are storing and sharing data. When an IPFS node retrieves data from the network it keeps a local cache of that data for future usage, taking up space on that particular IPFS node. IPFS nodes frequently clear this cache out in order to make room for new content.

But, what happens if you want to make sure that certain content will never be deleted? The act of saving data on an IPFS node is often referred to as “pinning”. It’s also the reason Pinata is named Pinata!

When you “pin” data on an IPFS node, you are telling that node that the data is important and it should be saved. Pinning prevents important 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 own IPFS nodes.

For many, managing this pinned content can be challenging. Keeping track of all the different content you’re trying to pin or managing large amounts of pinned data can be difficult without investing large resources into building out tooling. Luckily, there’s a better way: IPFS pinning services.

An IPFS pinning service is an IPFS node or collection of IPFS nodes dedicated to pinning other peoples’ and apps’ content on IPFS. Below, you will see four advantages of why using an IPFS pinning service can help you leverage the IPFS network with or without running your own IPFS nodes.

Speed

The first reason you would use an IPFS pinning service is for speed of retrieving data. There are two major advantages to relying on an IPFS pinning service for speed.

First, IPFS pinning services are often highly connected to other nodes in the IPFS network. This means that they have a better chance of quickly finding and retrieving data from the network than your nodes.

Second, IPFS has the ability to leverage parallelization while retrieving data. What this means is that you can request data from multiple nodes at one time when retrieving data. This increases download speeds, but the data has to be residing on multiple nodes for that parallelization to happen. IPFS pinning services are a great way to provide that.

Uptime

IPFS pinning services have IPFS nodes that are always online. Because these nodes are usually cloud hosted, they act as a reliable way of keeping your data available even if your own IPFS node isn’t always online. This allows you and your users to access your content anywhere at any time, regardless of device.

Redundancy

For those running their own IPFS nodes, IPFS pinning services provide a great way to keep data backed up. There’s no need to worry about accidental data deletion if you back all of your data up with a pinning service. Want even greater redundancy? Consider using multiple pinning services for maximum data redundancy!

Space

Finally, you might rely on an IPFS pinning service because your IPFS node doesn’t have enough storage to meet your needs. Instead of spinning up and managing more servers, you can alleviate your storage problem by pinning some, a lot, or all of your data on an IPFS pinning service. Doing so allows you to store more data without having to worry about the complexities of managing large amounts of data across multiple IPFS nodes.

Cost

What about cost? IPFS pinning services operate much like your traditional cloud storage providers. When you pin a certain amount of data on an IPFS pinning service’s nodes, you’ll pay monthly fees associated with that data. Pretty simple!

Happy Pinning

To summarize, IPFS pinning services provide speed, uptime, redundancy, and space on the IPFS network. Whether you run your own IPFS node or rely solely on IPFS pinning services, anyone using IPFS can improve their IPFS experience from what IPFS pinning services offer. Happy Pinning!