When we think of data storage online, we immediately draw associations to services like Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox and One Drive. It’s easy to see why — getting started is often free and the rates for further storage seems reasonable:
Dropbox charges $12.50 a month for storing 2 TB worth of data.
Microsoft One Drive charges $99.99 a year for 5 TB of storage.
While these rates are definitely affordable to most users, the old centralised model of data storage brings with it two big problems and one unfortunate lost opportunity.
Centralised Storage Means Centralised Problems
Problem #1: Your Data Isn’t Exactly Secure
One of the most fundamental pillars of storage is the need for security and absolute privacy of your data which includes your personal identity, email and credit card information.
In fact, in 2012, hackers gained access to more than 68 million user accounts that include email addresses and passwords.
The thing is that when data is centralised, it is much more attractive for hackers to directly breach the source, after all no conventional data security is 100% hack-proof — there are always backdoors or even a power outage could trigger a successful breach.
When a centralised data storage provider is compromised, tens millions of data could be accessed, sold, deleted and worse of all, your files are no longer private.
Problem #2: Downtime & Outages
While storing data in centralised providers might be convenient and quick, retrieving the data might be a whole different issue. While most users tend to use cloud storage to store their videos and photos from the last vacation, an increasing amount of small business owners and entrepreneurs (we are not even factoring in enterprise customers yet) are uploading their business data into the cloud.
Sure it might be mildly irritating to have your favourite pictures unavailable for a day or two but the real world business consequences are severe. Enormous amounts of data are stored in virtual servers at remote locations, these include hosting services, once down, causes websites linked to them go offline.
In fact, a past AWS (Amazon Web Services) outage (their premier Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service) caused sites like Foursquare, Reddit and Minecraft to go completely down.
Even if we put side the inevitable maintenance the servers will go through, downtimes are a hidden cost to both retail and enterprise customers.
What If You Could Rent Your Storage To The World?
Just imagine, you have a computer with 500 GB of storage space, unless you are an aggressive YouTuber or movie downloader, you will likely have excess storage that is just sitting around waiting doing nothing.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone can share their idle storage and make some money in the process?
It’s quite a win-win proposition for both the seller and the buyer. This will inevitably push down storage fees to a fraction of what it is today, ushering in a new age of highly available and more affordable data storage pricing.
However as attractive this may sound, it is one thing that centralised cloud storage providers could never offer.
Their whole business model is about renting their own centralised storage space and part of the fees you are paying is for the user experience to upload, view and retrieve your storage.
There must be a better way!
Enter Blockchain Storage
When blockchain is used to store data, the data is chopped up or sharded into many pieces and distributed across a network of nodes (or recipients), similar to its mechanism of distributed ledger characteristic of the technology.
Because this data is stored in smaller pieces and in multiple places, it is virtually breach-proof as even if a piece of data is hacked, it is encrypted and by itself holds no discernible meaning to it, it is just a small piece of the whole — and the only person who can piece it back together like jig-saw puzzle is the original owner himself.
This allows your data to enjoy unparalleled security and uptime. Blockchain technology allows your data to be stored in multiple nodes all around the world and its highly unlikely (near impossible in fact) a breach of every single node that holds a piece of your data, allowing you to retrieve at will your data at anytime without any personal or business consequences to delays.
Decentralised Storage Opens The Door To Flexibility
While there is definitely a cost to using decentralised storage in the form of cryptocurrencies, it is minuscule compared to the current pricing big cloud storage companies are charging.
As more storage space gets available and efficiency within the network increases, it is likely to see storage space cost drop anywhere from 50% to 90% and beyond!
But perhaps the shining jewel of decentralised storage is users get the flexibility to choose their decentralised storage experience.
Looking to quickly store and retrieve data for your business where every second counts? Not a problem, pay a little more for a faster experience.
Storing a 5 GB movie overnight while you rest for the night? Save money and let your upload run at normal speeds.
Instead of being pigeonholed to a uniform set of experience, blockchain storage is allowing users to control how they want to store their data.
With the various advantages we talked about on offer to users both retail and in the enterprise level, there will be an inevitable shift from centralised cloud storage to a decentralised solution and whomever the final end providers will be for this new age of storage, it will be powered by blockchain technology.
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