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Storj Vs. Dropbox: Why Decentralized Storage Is The Future

Op-ed - Storj Vs. Dropbox: Why Decentralized Storage Is The Future

In April 2014, Storj, an open source decentralized storage platform, won the Texas Bitcoin Conference’s hackathon, netting them $250,000 from the BitAngels Fund. The crowdsale for their token SJCX and early access to the software has begun and will be running until August 18th (3 days).

The future of cloud storage is decentralization. Imagine being able to rent out your extra hard drive space through an autonomous network and getting paid for it in a cryptocurrency. This is being made possible thanks to Satoshi Nakamoto and platforms such as Storj, Maidsafe, Ethereum and others. Now that we have the ability to tie P2P currency to resources such as storage space, bandwidth usage, and CPU power, services like Dropbox and Google Drive will be getting a run for their money.

Unlike other 2.0 platforms, Storj has decided to take a “baby steps” approach for developing their software. They want to build their system out in small, modular pieces first so that they can be used as working prototypes. The first of these pieces is a drag-and-drop file hosting web app called Metadisk, which recently had its whitepaper and video tutorial released. It’s important to note that Metadisk is just one piece of Storj, and as development progresses, more of these web apps, such as DriveShare (used for renting out your own hard drive space), will be coming together to form a more cohesive whole.

Cost Storj has come out with an infographic on the comparative costs of storing data between a decentralized system like Storj and a traditional centralized system like Dropbox. The results are staggering. Storj claims that buying and selling hard drive space in an autonomous network would reduce the cost of cloud computing by orders of magnitude, 10-100x cheaper. Currently, one can rent out 100GB of storage space from Dropbox for $99 a year. Even if a user does not employ the full 100GB, he or she still has to pay the price. With Storj, one would be able to rent out a VPS (Virtual Private Server) from a service such as Digital Ocean and run a 100GB MetaDisk webnode for only $1.47, which includes redundancy backup copies. Add $0.49 for cost of retrieving the data, and we’re looking at $1.96 for the same amount of storage as Dropbox’s $99 offer. On top of that, a user may rent out their extra hard drive space and make a substantial profit with Storj. In Dropbox’s model, if you pay $99 for 100GB a year but don’t use half the space you end up paying for what could potentially be profit.

The cost of storage generally gets cheaper and cheaper over time, since storage media capabilities double every 12 months. If a decentralized storage system was completely autonomous, the price of storage could eventually drop near the 0 mark. For current centralized cloud services, this would be impossible, as explained best in the Metadisk whitepaper: “This is competitive with centralized file hosts because even if their cost for storage media halves each year, their ongoing operating costs in data center rents, employee salaries, accounting costs, regulatory burden, legal fees, etc. will remain fixed or increase year over year, limiting their ability to compete with a decentralized model that has no such costs.” – MetaDisk Whitepaper

Security In an interview with The Guardian, Edward Snowden called Dropbox a “targeted wannabe PRISM partner” that is “very hostile to privacy.” With Storj, client-side encryption would ensure that files are secure.

Blockchain Storj wants to use multiple blockchains to store metadata as a sort of directory for where files are stored and how much redundancy they have. Once the blockchains are too large, they’ll use Merkle tree configurations to speed up this process, similar to how Bitcoin SPV wallets work.

Speed I asked Storj’s founder Shawn Wilkinson about the expected speed of the network once scaled to expectation. “Compare Dropbox and any peer-to-peer network. At scale, peer-to-peer networks will blow any centralized service out of the water. My goal is maximum throughput, so fast that your internet connection is the bottleneck not the network because at the base we have rewarded transfer.”

Crowdsale Storj recently started their crowdsale on July 18th, selling their token SJCX on Counterwallet in exchange for Bitcoin. 15 of SJCX goes to the developers, 15 goes to the community and 70 goes towards the crowdsale. Only participants in the crowdsale will be allowed to sell their hard drive space in the early network through DriveShare. Metadisk is already available to participants. What is SJCX good for?

  • You earn it from selling your hard drive space
  • You use it to buy hard drive space on the Storj network
  • Allows exclusive access to Metadisk and DriveShare
  • You get at least 10 of all new experimental coins made from STORJ

The crowdsale has so far collected nearly 600 BTC and will be ending on August 18th. (3 days)