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Blockchain Glossary: What is decentralized file sharing?

Decentralized file sharing is a way of storing files across multiple nodes in a network rather than on a single centralized server.

As the digital era has progressed, the internet has become a vast and complex web of data and files that communicate using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP. As internet traffic has increased over time and the sheer volume of information transmitted has become enormous, HTTP has started to crack under this strain. For example, each time we load a web page, HTTP is used to retrieve content from centralized servers. If the content involves transmitting large files, it may consume a lot of bandwidth. If a server is taken down, a website might still exist but with missing pieces, such as images or graphic files. Furthermore, due to a reliance on centralized servers, HTTP makes it easy to introduce censorship. Decentralized file sharing has emerged as a solution to some of these problems. Torrenting is the best-known solution by the general public. Torrenting has been used as a way of distributing much larger files, such as audio and video, over the internet to overcome the challenges of using HTTP. However, the earlier versions of file sharing protocols also have some limitations. Nodes are generally run by volunteers. They can choose to stop volunteering their services, meaning that there’s no guarantee there will always be enough people to host files. Using blockchain technology is a way to create robust decentralized file sharing networks where participants are incentivized to continue contributing. A token-based reward system ensures there are always enough nodes providing their services to the network.

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