It’s been some time since crypto/blockchain-projects started invading the cloud-storage sector, and more and more projects have tried and are trying to establish themselves here.
The difference between the the ones we know from the internet like dropbox, icloud, amazon, etc., and the new decentralized ones emerging from the crypto/blockchain arena is, that the latter wants to take use of all the unused storage space around the world and peoples personal computers.
The crypto/blockchain ones therefore dont have any central servers with storage space, but are instead they are decentralized networks, which allows everybody (like you and me) to rent out their free harddisk space, and everybody who needs cloud-storage space, can rent this space.
The first and probably most well-known projects were Storj, Filecoin & Sia, but many have followed, and today more than 20 projects exist, that are linked to the decentralized cloud storage sector (though not all of them belong here in my opinion — this will be adressed later in the article).
Here’s a list of the projects that are associated with this sector:
BEX (Behaviour exchange)
Almost all of the projects offer decentralized cloud storage solutions, in some way or form — this was the initial idea offered by the first projects like Filecoin, Sia & Storj, and this is the setup that almost all of the other projects have copied.
The projects are essentially well encrypted, open decentralized markets for cloud-storage, based on blockchain technology — and are overall offering a discount ranging from 70–90% compared to current market leaders like DropBox, iCloud, Google and Amazon.
The encryption used is called multi region redundancy/sharding/erasure, and this works out so well, because all the stored files are broken up in smaller pieces, and saved in different locations.
Because of this it is nearly impossible to steal more than a fragment of a specific piece of saved data, which makes decentralized data storage very safe for users.
Even more the system is so smart, that if the data is stored in 30 pieces, you will only need 10 of these to be able to regenerate the file, why it should always be possible to get to your files, even if some of the storage landlords should be unavailable for some reason.
BUT WHY SO MANY PROJECTS?
Well, first of all, we have to admit, that there has been a sad tendency towards 1:1 copies of projects in the crypto/blockchain space.
This is caused by so few people having an overview of the full market, why copy-paste-projects can be sold as original by which ideas can be sold like revolutionary, when they are in fact theft.
Second of all the cloud storage market is a big one, and there is space for more than one company.
Furthermore these project have honest differences, and there are both innovations and plot-twists from project to project, as many of the projects have decided to only use the cloud storage as part of a bigger platform.
Storj, Filecoin, Sia, Geens & Safekeet is offering, an open decentralized market for cloud-storage, based on the blockchain technology and well encrypted through multi region redundancy/sharding/erasure coding. Nothing more, nothing less.
STORAGE + DAPPS PLATFORM
Maidsafe, Swarm, Dadi, Bluzelle, Topiacoin, Genaro Network, SafeKeet, Genaro, Boosteroid, ECC are, more than just providing storage space, also aiming towards providing processing power and a platform for Dapps (decentralized applications) and their developers.
Furthermore Dadi also offers solutions for content-based project developers, Topiacoin also focuses on providing a private and encrypted file sharing service, SafeKeet also focuses on intelligent filestoring, and ECC also focuses on messaging and name resolution.
STORAGE WITH A TWIST
Oyster is pretty different, as it’s use-case scenario involves the elimination of ads on webpages. With Oyster, each person using a website, would be lending their computer power/space to the site they’re visiting, who in turn is lending this power/space to the Oyster network, and thereby receiving Oyster tokens.
In this way webpage owners would get paid by Oyster for their traffic, and would therefore not need to have commercials on their page (which normally pays for their traffic).
Timebox is essentially just cloud storing, but with the possibility of sharing your storage, at a specific time or through certain met conditions, by the use of smart contracts — like a time regulated data box, where only certain people are allowed access on a certain time.
OUT OF STORAGE
These projects have been linked to the decentralised cloud storage sector, but should in my opinion be left out of the storage category — for these reasons:
Boosteroid and Kelta are simply providing computer processing power, but are not focused on storage. Cryptelo are very focused on encryption for your data, but are not a decentralized service, as they simply offer to handle your data for you or your company in a secure and encrypted manner.
BEX (Behaviour Exchange) are not offering cloud storage space, but instead an exchange for webpages etc. to share information about their visitors, so that offered products (=commercials) to potential clients are streamlined.
GXS aims to provide secure data transactions and credit verification services based on the blockchain — doesn’t seem like a serious project to me.
Archicoin have suspended their pre-sale preliminary, and seem to be active on twitter with pictures from conferences, but webpage is down. Would watch out with this one.
Gasfiles have completed their ICO, but neither webpage or twitter-account no longer exists — webpage-address says very simply: wait for april launch — I would guess there’s a good chance you have lost your money, if you invested in this one :(
Now that we’ve looked at the ideas, lets take a short round of pros & cons:
PROS & CONS:
Storj, Filecoin, Sia, Geens & Safekeet
+Big user base +Fast +Integration w/ FileZilla — Not really decentralized — Doesn’t have it’s own blockchain, functions on Ethereum’s blockchain
+Fully decentralized +Smart contracts (that protect both provider & renter) — Slower than Storj — A deposit is required to take part (instead of just paying when you use) — No cap on supply of coins
+Strong team +Own system of transaction managers (though no blockchain) +Smart contracts — No working product (!)
Geens & SafeKeet:
— Both Still in ICO-mode — From their offered information I cannot see any advantages these should have on Storj, Sia or Filecoin.
STORAGE + DAPPS PROJECTS
Maidsafe, Swarm, Dadi, Bluzelle, Topiacoin, Genaro Network, Boosteroid & ECC
All of these projects are aiming, more than just offering a cloud storage solution, to become a platform for Dapps and other projects — Maidsafe is fx even claiming to be the new internet.
Since these projects are so much more wast than just cloud storage, they do belong partly to the cloud storage sector, but are actually trying to be much more. Therefore these are imo not really competing with the pure cloud storage-projects like Storj, Filecoin, Sia, Geens & SafeKeet, but are more in competition with each other (and with other projects that are also focusing on being platforms — just without the cloud storage part).
For this reason i will not go into detail with them here, but instead do that comparison in another article focusing on platforms (will link that article here when it’s written).
DIFFERENT STORAGE PROJECTS
Oyster & TimeBox
Oyster + Really interesting idea, which to my knowledge is only mirrored by the Brave browser + Nobody wants commercials — public sentiment on their side — Technically could be difficult to pull of (but i’m no dev, so don’t listen to me on this area)
TimeBox + Idea is perfect for marketing to “normal” people — The function of their idea actually could be performed by a number of projects out there
All in all a lot of interesting projects out there, even though a lot of them resemble each other.
Decentralized cloud storage seems like a really good idea that seems to outperform the existing cloud storage companies, both regarding prize and security — this sector seems like perfect for use of the blockchain and crypto valutas, in regards to payment, security and possibilities for global participation due to the decentralization aspect.
As said before the sector is big enough for many players, but as of now it seems like Storj and Sia have taken the lead, with Oyster being a serious outsider with an interesting and different business model.
It has to be mentioned though, that the sector is drawing attention from bigger players, and Google seems to have been preparing for a serious move into this, with a launch of its own decentralized cloud storage project.
We are therefore looking at a real competition in regards to winning the frontrunner position(s) in this sector, and only one thing is for sure — those projects who end up on top will be quite well off!