Storj is a cloud storage platform that can’t be monitored, censored, or controlled by a central party. It is a decentralized platform that uses encryption, file sharding, and a blockchain-based hash table to securely store files on a peer-to-peer network. The goal is to offer a better alternative to traditional storage solutions like Google Drive or Dropbox where unexpected outages can restrict file access and centralized companies have too much control over your files.
Storj guarantees that you are the only one that can access your files, restoring privacy in the online world. And with their open source protocol they are inviting everyone to be part of the decentralized Web 3.0 revolution. Let’s take a closer look to find out how it works.
The Storj network
It’s important to make a distinction between open source Storj and Storj Labs. The open source software allows anyone to create a distributed and decentralized storage network running Storj, whereas Storj Labs is a for-profit company that has already done that with a network of 20,000 tenants, 18,000 farmers and 8 Petabytes of storage at its disposal.
Tenants are people using storage space, and farmers are the ones contributing storage space and bandwidth to the network. Farmers receive fees for providing the space in two ways: tenants pay them directly using cryptocurrency, and Storj frequently sends requests to farmers who must send cryptographic proof they still have the data in possession upon which they receive payments for storing the files.
Storj Labs, the biggest network running on the protocol, exclusively uses the STORJ token for payments. Open source Storj, the software anyone can use to create their own decentralized network, is payment agnostic and also accepts BTC, ETH and other coins.
How Storj works
The way files are stores is actually similar to the way torrent downloads work. Files are divided into smaller pieces and stored across different nodes in the network. In total, a file is split into 80 pieces and you need at least 30 to reconstitute the file. Each shard is then stored on a different drive in the network. On the farmer side, they may have shards of files but all they really see is gibberish. Uploaded data is encrypted and only the owners have the keys so nobody else can decrypt the data.
A key difference between torrents and Storj is that torrents publish shard location publicly as the goal is to make it possible for anyone to download files, whereas Storj aims to uphold privacy so the only person that knows where all the file shards are is the owner. That’s where cryptography and blockchain come into play. To locate the shards of the original file, you need access to a distributed hash table which requires a private key to unlock. Without the private key, it is virtually impossible to guess where the file shards are located.
No single node holds your file in its entirety. You as the owner of the file are the only one that can collect all the different shards and re-assemble them to access the original file. If a hacker were to successfully get one encrypted piece of the puzzle, they would still need 29 other shards stored somewhere in the network, and the encryption keys to put the file back together.
To preserve access to your files when nodes go offline or exit the network altogether, Storj implements redundancy into the system using parity shards. With enough parity shards, you can greatly reduce the chances of losing a shard of data from your file. Plus, Storj itself regularly audits nodes to make sure your files are stored safely. That said, the longer you store files the probability of losing shards increases so it is good practice to recall and rebuild your files periodically and upload them to Storj again.
Tapping into the Storj network
If you want to set up a node and contribute storage space to Storj, there are a few requirements you need to meet. For example, you need a minimum of 550GB available disk space, 2TB available bandwidth per month, 5Mbps upstream bandwidth, 25Mbps download bandwidth, and be able to keep your node online 24/7.
All this is to ensure users have quick access to their files at any given time. You also need to set up port forwarding to allow your node to communicate with others on the Storj network. Finally, you need to download the Storj Desktop to set up your node and start earning money on your excess storage capacity. But don’t expect to become a wealthy byte farmer. Over a period of months, you will likely only get paid out a couple of dollars’ worth of STORJ.
The network is not designed for people to make lots of money. Instead, the aim is to provide a better experience on the web, decentralizing the way it works to take power away from the gatekeepers of today’s internet and returning it to the people. There are many Web 3 projects underway, each tackling a different facet of the web and designing a better alternative.
Storj is for privacy-minded network users to store their files without concern that their information is being looked at and without being targeted for ads based on those files.