Explaining Decentralized Storage to Your Grandma by@Filebase

Explaining Decentralized Storage to Your Grandma

Decentralized storage networks are created using blockchains. A blockchain is a network that uses peer-to-peer technology to connect resources. A decentralized storage network uses a process called erasure coding to store files. Each piece of the file is encrypted with a special algorithm and stored in a variety of locations. To access the entire set of files, each file must be retrieved from each drawer in each filing cabinet and only you can access it. You can still access your file offline, but you won’t even know that there are corrupt chunks of data that are corrupt.
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Have you ever been visiting your grandparents or other family members, and they ask you a question that starts off, “Well you know about tech, right? Can you explain this concept to me? I saw it on the news the other morning,” or something along those lines?

Sometimes, what they’re asking about can be as simple as what new colors the iPhone comes in this year or what Samsung’s newest phone looks like, and why it folds in half. Other times, these concepts are more technical in nature, like what an NFT is or how data breaches happen.


Determining how to explain these concepts to your family members that are nontechnical can be challenging, and sometimes even when you break it down to the simplest of terms, it’s still not a concept that they can wrap their heads around.


So what should you say if someone asks you about what decentralized storage is and why it’s important? How should you explain this concept to someone like your grandma in a way that she’ll understand what you’re talking about?

Blockchains

First, let’s explain how blockchain networks operate.


Decentralized storage networks are created using blockchains. A blockchain is a network that uses peer-to-peer technology to connect resources.


To your grandma, a peer-to-peer network is like when she phones one of her friends to coordinate their weekly brunch meeting. That phone call is an example of a peer-to-peer network connection. It’s a direct connection used to share information between two entities.


On a blockchain, each peer is referred to as a node. This node can be a home computer, like your grandma’s Windows 7 computer that she uses to log onto Facebook once a week, or it can be a high-performance computing server located in a data center. To be added to the blockchain, special software gets downloaded onto the node for it to connect to the blockchain.


To your grandma, she and her friends are nodes in their peer-to-peer network.

Every node provides its local resources, such as processing power and empty storage capacity, to provide resources to the blockchain to be used for storage and other blockchain transactions.


This is like when your grandma goes to brunch with her friends, and they split the bill. Each entity contributes its resources to the network.

Decentralized Storage

So now that we know how a blockchain network operates, the best way to explain how decentralized storage works is to think about how your grandma is used to storing files.


Say your grandma has a file cabinet with multiple drawers. Inside each drawer are manilla file folders, each with one file in them. Each individual file could be stored in one folder together, but instead, your grandma has kept them each in their own folder to organize things.

When you store a file on a decentralized storage network, the file gets broken apart into a number of different pieces. This process is called erasure coding. Each piece is then individually encrypted with a special algorithm.


To your grandma, this is like when she stores her files each in their own manila folder, then places each folder in different file cabinet drawers, with each drawer having its own lock.

Next, each piece of the file stored on the decentralized storage network is stored across the world in a wide variety of locations. No file can be accessed without the minimum number of other pieces, which only you can access due to that special algorithm that gets applied during the erasure coding process, so there's no concern about the owner of the node that stores a piece of the file being able to access the file.


This is like if your grandma had multiple filing cabinets across her house. One file in one folder would get stored in the first filing cabinet in the top drawer, and another file in another folder would get stored in the second filing cabinet in the bottom drawer. Everything could be stored in one folder, in one drawer, in one filing cabinet, but instead, they get split apart and stored separately. To access the entire set of files, each file must be retrieved from each drawer in each filing cabinet. Each drawer is locked with its own unique key, and only your grandma has the keys to be able to open the drawers.


When the file is broken apart into multiple pieces and erasure-coded, not all of those pieces are required to reassemble the file to be accessed or downloaded. This is a feature that’s in place specifically to ensure data integrity. ⅔ of the file chunks can be offline, corrupt, or otherwise inaccessible, but you can still access your file. You won’t even know that there are offline or corrupt chunks, it won’t change how you access your file at all.


This is like your grandma having multiple copies of different files. She might have 3 copies of one file, with each copy stored in its own folder, then stored across three different filing cabinets in three different drawers. For this file, she only needs one copy to access the contents, so she doesn’t need to access all 3 copies of it to use the file. So if she loses the key to one of the drawers and has to wait for a locksmith, she can open another filing cabinet and go to another drawer that has one of the copies of that file.


It’s the same concept with decentralized storage - if one file chunk can’t be accessed, the file can still be accessed and downloaded with no interruption, they just use a chunk stored in another location to piece together the file.

Why Would You Use Decentralized Storage Instead of Centralized Storage?

After all this explaining, your grandma might wonder - why should you use decentralized storage?


One of the biggest advantages is the innate security that comes with decentralized storage. Since each file is erasure coded, encrypted, and stored across the globe, and you need at least ⅓ of the pieces to access the file, files are secure not only in integrity and accessibility but also in data privacy. No one can access the data file’s chunks besides the user who uploaded them.


To your grandma, this is like when she stores a file in a file folder in one file cabinet drawer, locks the door, then goes down the hall and stores another file in a different file cabinet. She is the only one who has the keys to either file cabinet, so she is the only one who can access and retrieve the files.


Another advantage of decentralized storage is reliability. Since decentralized storage is just that, decentralized, it has no single point of failure that would take the network down and make the data inaccessible. This means there are no more crippling outages that disrupt workflows or result in a loss of business.


So now, you might have some ideas on how to explain decentralized cloud storage to your grandma, or any other family member that may ask!


Questions? Check out our excellent documentation found here, or simply reach out to us: [email protected] or by joining by our Discord.

Experience Filebase today: Get started with 5GB of free object storage with no expirations and no trials.Experience Filebase today: Get started with 5GB of free object storage with no expirations and no trials.

Experience Filebase today: Get started with 5GB of free object storage with no expirations and no trials.

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