Decentralized Storage: Unlocking Freedom and Security in the Digital World

Memo Labs
6 min readFeb 1, 2024

1.Background

“NFTs don’t even exist on the blockchain, they are just URLs of JPEGs. At the very least, you should encode the JPEG on the blockchain. If the company hosting the image goes bankrupt, you no longer own that image.”

These are words recently spoken by Elon Musk in a podcast. As we know, since the blockchain is merely a ledger, it is challenging to store large amounts of data directly on it. Currently, very few NFTs are stored directly on the blockchain; instead, most NFTs anchor their data to centralized servers of specific companies.

Therefore, Musk’s statement implies two issues: the risk of a single point of failure caused by centralized servers and the inherent limitations of blockchain itself regarding the storage and circulation of large-scale data. Considering the current development needs, these challenges extend beyond the NFT data market and pose severe problems for the entire cloud storage market as data volumes continue to expand.

To address these challenges, a new storage method is crucial. Developers must also focus on resolving the issues of excessive on-chain load and ensuring data availability. With the advent of a new era, the nature of data is changing, and decentralized storage continues to advance in response to various new data-related issues. By this point, it has already gained some momentum. It can be said that decentralized storage still holds research potential in solving problems that traditional storage cannot address. This is a response to technological development and innovation, as well as a profound contemplation of future data management and exchange methods.

2.What is Decentralized Storage?

The current commercial organization forms of the entire storage market can be divided into centralized storage and decentralized storage. Simply put, centralized storage involves storing data intact on servers developed by centralized institutions, while decentralized storage involves slicing and dispersing data storage across multiple independent storage providers.

These are two different data storage architectures. In centralized storage, data is typically controlled and managed by a single entity or organization, which acts as the central hub for the data. This means that the storage, management, and access of data all rely on this centralized entity. Typical examples of centralized storage include traditional cloud storage service providers such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. While these services offer convenient data storage and processing capabilities, they also have potential issues, such as the single point of failure mentioned earlier.

In contrast to centralized storage, decentralized storage stores data in a distributed manner across multiple nodes in a network, with each node having an identical copy of the data. Since the data is backed up and stored on multiple nodes, even if one node fails or is attacked, the data remains available and is not lost.

Importantly, in decentralized storage, data can be transferred directly between storage nodes without the need for centralized intermediate servers. This direct data flow enables faster speeds, lower latency, and reduced data transfer costs.

Representative decentralized storage projects in the market currently include Filecoin, Arweave, and MEMO, among others.

From a macro perspective, decentralized storage addresses two challenges in response to the growing data market demand: data security and data availability. The following sections will provide detailed explanations of these two characteristics.

3.Data Security

Decentralized storage has inherent advantages in data security due to its underlying blockchain technology, which offers distinct security features in data collection, transmission, storage, indexing, and other aspects that differ from traditional methods:

Decentralized Storage: Decentralized storage disperses data across multiple nodes instead of being centrally stored on a single entity or server. This decentralization significantly reduces the risk of single point failures. Even if a node fails or is attacked, the data on other nodes remains accessible, preventing permanent data loss.

Data Redundancy: In decentralized storage, data is typically replicated on multiple nodes, ensuring the existence of multiple copies for 1:N data redundancy protection. Even if a node fails, the data copies on other nodes remain available.

Privacy: Decentralized storage often utilizes encryption techniques to protect data privacy and security. Data can be encrypted during transmission and storage, ensuring that only authorized users can access plaintext while preventing unauthorized users from obtaining complete data.

Resistance to Censorship: Data in decentralized storage possesses characteristics of resistance to censorship. Since data is stored on multiple nodes, there is no single central entity that can censor or block the data. This provides a certain guarantee for information freedom and resistance against network censorship, allowing users to have higher freedom and effective ownership of their data.

4.Data Availability

Data availability refers to the ability to access and use data when needed. This means that the storage or transmission system must be able to quickly provide the data when requested by users or applications, and ensure the stability of the system during operation without being affected by failures, attacks, or other issues. In decentralized storage systems, data availability is enhanced through multiple node distribution, redundant backups, distributed protocols, and encryption.

Multiple Node Distribution: Decentralized storage distributes data across multiple nodes in the network instead of being stored in a single location. This distributed approach not only reduces the risk of single point failures but also allows data access to be supported from other nodes when a specific node is attacked or unable to read the data. Additionally, the multi-node storage employs mechanisms such as assigning data nodes based on proximity and prioritizing transmission from high-quality nodes, ensuring stable and fast data retrieval.

Redundant Backups: Decentralized storage systems store multiple copies of data on different nodes during the storage process. If one copy of the data fails, the system can maintain data safety and availability by using backup data from other nodes.

Dynamic Load Balancing: The system can dynamically adjust the data transmission nodes based on factors such as the network and reading speed of the nodes. This ensures that data can always be obtained from high-performance and highly available nodes, guaranteeing stable and fast data transmission.

Smart Contracts: As automated system rules, smart contracts can set up event monitoring mechanisms. Once data anomalies or inconsistencies are detected, corresponding responses can be triggered, such as automatic repair mechanisms or notifications to relevant parties for handling. This helps to promptly identify and address data availability issues.

Automatic Repair: Many decentralized storage systems have automatic repair mechanisms that can detect data corruption or loss. They can automatically repair the data from backup data on other nodes, thereby maintaining data integrity and ensuring that the data is available during the interaction process.

5.What other problems does MEMO solve?

Compared to decentralized storage, which solves the challenges of data security and availability in centralized storage, the MEMO decentralized storage system also solves the problem of interoperability. Regarding the improvement of interoperability, MEMO’s main advantage lies in its self-developed middleware protocol.

Firstly, one major feature of MEMO’s middleware protocol is its support for multiple chains, including Ethereum, BTC, and the Polygon network. This comprehensive compatibility allows users to choose different networks for data storage based on their specific needs. Through extensive testing, the MEMO middleware protocol has demonstrated good stability and transmission performance.

In terms of data protocol, MEMO has developed and matched standardized data protocols, aiming to ensure compatibility with increasingly complex data transmission mechanisms. This ensures that users can perform data storage and developers can conduct port integration more conveniently and reliably.

With the open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) provided by MEMO, developers are allowed to integrate with the MEMO system as needed. This open API design enables easy communication and interaction between third-party applications and services, which is a key aspect in improving interoperability.

Of course, as an infrastructure, the MEMO decentralized system has integrated a middleware protocol that developers can invoke according to their needs to cover a wider range of use cases.

Security and availability are the key research areas for decentralized storage in addressing current scenarios. However, the advantages of decentralized storage go beyond these aspects. There is also significant potential for improvement in cost control, low-carbon economy, and infrastructure development, which are lacking in traditional storage solutions. We believe that decentralized storage will become more mature in the development process of Web3.

Not only in the Web3 era but even in the Web2 era, decentralized storage is the trend, provided that data security and stability are ensured. However, with the advent of blockchain and Web3, this technology has developed rapidly. We hope to have more developers and users participating in the decentralized storage field, working together to meet societal needs and improve the data market.

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Memo Labs

MEMO is a new-gen blockchain decentralized cloud storage protocol. Our mission is to build a reliable storage infrastructure for the Web3 era. www.memolabs.org