For the last few years, decentralized file storage has been discussed as one of the holy grails of blockchain technology, since it could eventually lead to a completely censorship-resistant content sharing platforms, messaging services, social media apps — and even an entirely decentralized internet.
The BitTorrent File System, or BTFS for short, has recently emerged as arguably the leader in the race for truly decentralized storage, since it enables users to store files of practically any size in a completely decentralized and redundant way. But how does it actually stack up with the current competition? Let’s find out.
BTFS vs Centralized Options
Cloud file storage solutions have grown in popularity in recent years, with Google One, DropBox, and Microsoft OneDrive seeing their user bases skyrocket as more people look to move their data to the cloud.
These centralized storage options all work in a similar way. Users sign up and are generally provided a small free storage allowance or bandwidth limit, but will need to subscribe to a monthly or yearly plan to increase their allocation any further. Being centralized, their files are stored in data centers owned by the service provider, which means they can be censored by the service provider, or rendered unavailable if the company experiences downtime.
BTFS uses a network of guard nodes and an escrow service to keep users and their files safe. (Image: BTFS)
On the other hand, BTFS allows users to upload their files and the system automatically splits them into 30 seperate shards, which are hashed and hosted by 30 selected hosts, ensuring no single user has access to the entire file. Storage renters can choose their hosts based on several parameters, like available storage space, uptime, and proximity. Since these files are decentralized, they cannot be censored or forcibly deleted by external parties, as the BTFS Guard ensures files can always be retrieved even if too many hosts are inaccessible.
From a cost standpoint, BTFS has also edged out the major competitors, by allowing users to only pay for the exact amount of data they use, rather than selling data in fixed allotments.
Right now, BTFS renters pay 23 BitTorrent tokens (BTT) per GB per month for their data usage. This is currently the equivalent of less than $0.0082/GB/month. As such, an individual that uses 100GB worth of data per month, can currently expect to pay under $0.82/month. Though this is currently the beta pricing, it is dramatically lower than that charged by Google One ($1.99/100GB/month) and Microsoft OneDrive ($1.99/100GB/month).
BTFS vs Filecoin
Although centralized services are currently BTFS’s major competition, there is also another decentralized file storage solution currently in the works, known as Filecoin. Filecoin uses a similar technology to BTFS, known as the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), which is used to distribute file storage across a large number ofhosts.
However, though Filecoin has been long touted as a major competitor to BTFS, it has repeatedly failed to deliver on its development milestoes — mostly due to unforeseen technical challenges. Right now, the platform is currently operating an incentivized testnet, which sees users compete by contributing storage space to earn part of a Filecoin token reward pool. Filecoin currently claim its mainnet will be launched soon, but this has suffered numerous delays already.
BTFS can currently be downloaded for Windows and MacOS/Linux and is accessed through a web interface (Image: BTFS)
BTFS, on the other hand, is already up and running its mainnet and has integrated with the TRON blockchain ecosystem already, which means users are free to download the BTFS client and begin renting storage or earning rewards for hosting files. Unlike the Filecoin testnet, which is clunky and challenging to use, BTFS was designed with an extremely intuitive user interface, making it easy for users to start renting storage or begin earning BTT tokens by becoming a host. BTFS have also produced extensive documentation to help further simplify the process.
Thanks to its integration with the BitTorrent ecosystem, BTFS has the potential to tap close to 200 million file hosts and users, and can be used as the base storage solution for thousands of TRON DApps and associated content platforms like DLive. Right now, the platform already has 300,000 monthly active users with 220,000 new files being uploaded each day.
But since BTFS is currently active and Filecoin is still yet to launch its final version, a true like-for-like comparison is not yet possible.
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