While the progress in field of increased data sharing and internet, the need of a safe, secure and decentralized storage platforms have exponentially grown. Blockchain seems to be marking a new revolution in the information age and applications for virtually everything, are taking birth on this platform. The cloud services are no longer lagging behind in the race. Although there are multiple cloud startups that have come into being on the network, Storj seems to be one of the most promising of the pack.
Storj – the decentralized cloud storage
Most of the cloud storage applications rely on large storage providers and act as third parties to transfer and store data. This system makes the client side encryption non-standard and the traditional cloud is exposed to a variety of threats, such as malware, application failure, which might expose the personal data. Many storage devices rely on this infrastructure and hence, the probability of failure is much higher.
Last year, Amazon S3, the world’s largest cloud storage platform, went offline. This issue created problems for Trello, Quora, Heroku, Slack and many other services. Even IoT connected thermostats and light bulbs stopped working. The cause of all this mayhem turned out to be just a mistyped command during the server maintenance. The problem might seem to be little on the server end, but the impacts could’ve been huge due to restrict in the access of data. The more the internet progresses, the more we become reliant on such platforms, but their failures cause more damage than just minor inconveniences. These issues of data access and retrievability give rise to the formation of decentralized platforms like Storj.
Storj provides a solution to the problem by presenting a distributed decentralized platform. This decentralized cloud storage network offers many advantages compared to data-based cloud storage. Storj uses an extensive security system by using strong private keys that prevent third party applications from accessing the user data. Data security isn’t compromised in this case because of the client side encryption and the data integrity is maintained via proofs of retrievability. The CEO and founder of Ethereum endorsed the platform saying,
Decentralized file storage systems like Storj have the potential to eliminate high markup costs and market inefficiencies and provide a much higher level of privacy, reliability and quality of service than we see today.
Storj claims that;
Because Storj doesn’t host infrastructure, but instead uses a distributed and decentralized network of devices, we offer a very special value proposition that no other traditional storage network can offer. Should our object storage service fail completely, users would still be able to retrieve their data.
The solution provided by Storj to address security, according to the white paper, is the method of sharding the encrypted files of the users and then sending the files to the cloud platform. Sharding a file is the fragmentation of a file into digital pieces. These shards are standardized by Storj to be of sizes of a byte multiple, such as 8 or 32MB. This sharding allows the user to safely preserve their encrypted files throughout the platform without any fear of third party poking. Storj creates a distributed network with efficient message routing and other desirable qualities for the distribution of the shards. According to Anand Babu, co-founder and CEO of Minio,
Storj is like an internet file system. Data blocks are encrypted and distributed across a globally distributed set of storage nodes using block chain algorithm. It is quite impressive and much needed innovation in the storage space.
Apart from the security issues and retrievability, the platform provides incentives for those who can have extra spaces to spare in their hard drives. The fragments of the users’ hard drive spaces are “rented out” as per the will of the seller. Some shards of the users’ encrypted data are then stored in these spaces.
Storj also ensures high speed because the network is shared, so the users do not have to worry about slow download speeds coming from one place. They also provide parallel uploading due to it’s peer to peer distributed network.
Storj uses blockchain features like a transaction ledger, public/private key encryption, and cryptographic hash functions for security.
The cryptocurrency behind the Storj platform is STORJ, which is an undervalued cryptocurrency, but is following the trends and grabbing the attention of investors globally. This cryptocurrency is based on Ethereum and is traded in multiple major exchanges, like Bittrex, Binance, and Poloniex. Simon Dixon, the co-founder of the online investment platform, BnkToTheFuture said,
As a seed investor, we were more than happy to join the next round for Storj with a great line up of co-investors. We want storing files to be cheaper, faster and more secure and the progress the team has made towards that mission has been phenomenal to watch. We are looking forward to putting more and more of our documents on the Blockchain thanks to Storj.
How Storj was founded?
About the formation of Storj, the founder Shawn Wilkinson said, “I started Storj to provide crowdsourced p2p data storage. Most data out there is centralized, and by decentralizing it, I wanted to provide a similar service that was faster, cheaper and more secure — without forcing the users to change their habits too much. Storj was started as an open source project in 2014, and we launched with a crowdsale. The Storj tokens we released allow people to use space on the network. We raised half a million dollars through the token crowdsale, and in 2015 we started Storj Labs Inc, a company built on top of the Storj platform that provides additional support and services. You can think of Storj as being like WordPress.org, and Storj Labs as being like WordPress.com, providing additional services that make it easy for people to use the platform.”
Views on blockchain
Talking about the future of blockchain and the accessibility, Shawn added, “Storj believes that blockchain and cryptocurrencies can only achieve acceptable among the “general public” though abstraction. You don’t need to know about HTTP/TCP/UDP or any of the foundational internet protocols to use Facebook or Twitter. Same thing should go for blockchain and cryptocurrencies. You should be able to use the technology to store data (what we offer), or transfer money without having to have a deep understanding of the technology.”
ICO and fundraising
The potential shown by Storj led to reaching a goal of $30 million in seven days. Surprisingly, the Token sale reached $20 million only 6 hours after the opening of the books.
In a nutshell, Storj is one of the most promising cloud storage startups on blockchain, but the wave of startups that has hit blockchain recently has shown that there are other players in the market parallel to this platform providing state of the art storage access, like Sia. The question that arises is that will Storj be able to muscle its way into making its monopoly?