Filecoin (FIL) is a decentralized storage network that allows users to rent out their spare storage space to earn FIL tokens. Built on top of IPFS and blockchain technology, Filecoin aims to provide a distributed, efficient, and robust solution for storing massive amounts of data. The technical architecture behind Filecoin involves some key innovations that enable its decentralized cloud storage model.
IPFS as the Content-Addressed Storage Layer
At its foundation, Filecoin utilizes InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) as the content-addressed storage layer. IPFS is a protocol that gives each file a unique fingerprint called a cryptographic hash based on its contents. Files are referenced using this hash, allowing versioning and deduplication.
On IPFS, data is split into small chunks, distributed across nodes, and found via the hash. This content-addressing provides redundancy and retrievability without needing to know which specific nodes store the data. Filecoin leverages this decentralized infrastructure to store client data.
Blockchain for Consensus and Incentives
Filecoin implements blockchain technology to coordinate storage providers, audit deals, and incentivize participation. The Filecoin blockchain records storage deals between clients and storage miners, tracking the size and duration of contracts.
A consensus protocol called Proof-of-Replication proves miners are storing clients’ data by replicating and submitting proofs. Filecoin’s blockchain processes these proofs to reward miners with FIL for storing data and obeying contracts.
This blockchain-based consensus and incentive model allows Filecoin to operate as an open market for file storage and retrieval.
Novel Cryptoeconomic Model
Unlike Bitcoin mining, Filecoin mining power is proportional to storage capacity provided, not hash power. Filecoin introduces a novel cryptoeconomic construction to model useful storage work.
Filecoin miners commit storage capacity to mine on the network. The probability of successfully mining the next block is proportional to the storage a miner has allocated to Filecoin clients relative to the total storage on the network.
This links mining power to storage utility, incentivizing allocating more storage capacity to clients. It also discourages duplication and unnecessary replication of the same data.
Data Replication and Fault Tolerance
Filecoin improves reliability by replicating and distributing data widely across uncorrelated storage providers. Data is encoded using erasure codes that enable reconstruction even if nodes holding some pieces go offline.
Filecoin also implements Proof-of-Spacetime, which requires miners to continuously prove they are storing client data over time. This auditing detects failed or cheating nodes so clients can repair data by re-replicating pieces.
Together, these technical innovations provide a high degree of redundancy and fault-tolerance.
Retrievability Proofs and Verification
Retrievability is a key requirement in distributed storage. Filecoin clients must be able to fully restore their data on demand.
To ensure retrievability, Filecoin implements proofs where random pieces of client data are cryptographically tagged and audited. Miners provide proofs they can retrieve these tagged pieces, cryptographically verifying they still have the data intact.
Failed retrievability proofs result in miners losing collateral stakes and other penalties. This motivates proper storage for retrievability.
Compliant Markets for Data Control
An important aspect of Filecoin is empowering clients with full control over where their data is stored. Clients can select compliant storage miners based on criteria like geography, legal jurisdiction, and infrastructure.
Filecoin’s technical architecture allows building applications for compliant data markets. Clients can programmatically enforce storage policies, audit compliance in real-time, and shift data between compliant miners as needed.
This gives Filecoin based-storage granular data control lacking in centralized cloud services.
Filecoin provides a novel model for decentralized cloud storage by building on innovations like IPFS, blockchain, and new cryptoeconomic structures. Proof-of-Replication, retrievability proofs, data replication, and customizable storage policies give Filecoin the technical robustness and programmability needed for reliable and compliant cloud storage. If adopted widely, Filecoin could provide the backbone infrastructure for a more open, secure, and decentralized internet.