Are you a developer who wants to store your data on the cloud somewhere? Want to get away from the grip that Amazon has over your stuff? Storj might be the answer.
First Off, What is Storj?
Storj is a crypto cloud storage platform that operates on the Ethereum blockchain. It allows anyone to rent hard drive space to people who are looking to store files. Through the network, you can either be the storer or the renter.
This isn't too dissimilar to the services that Amazon offers for cloud storage. However, Storj keeps the files on a network of computers, rather than a centralized server funded by a company.
But don't worry, these computers can't actually read your file. During the process of file storage, Storj inherently compresses and encrypts the files sent to the protocol.
Why Is Storj Better than Amazon's AWS?
Okay, cool, Storj stores data using a crypto project. How is it any better than Amazon's services? Let’s find out.
We've already touched on this so will keep this short — Amazon's services offer centralized servers that can easily be hacked. This is because there’s a central server. And in some cases, Amazon could cut you from your data — for instance, Amazon recently discontinued the server of the controversial right-wing social media app Parler.
This isn't the case with Storj as their only centralized element are some elements of payment — called a Bridge.
Storj has a unique USP when it comes to price — "because our economics are similar to that of Airbnb (or Uber) — we're also able to sell storage at half the price of AWS."
I took a closer look to fact-check this and it's true! To rent 1TB of storage with Amazon (S3), it's a minimum of $23. Storj can offer the same 1TB storage (with 1TB bandwidth) for $11. You even get the first 150 GB with Storj for free, so the figures above are actually for 1.15 TB.
Optimized for database backups
Storj's architecture is particularly suited to backing up databases. This is because Storj will regularly take snapshots of your database and the associated backed-up data. As a result, you will be able to quickly see the state of your database at any moment in time.
We're talking about a crypto project, do we really have to mention this? Well, as expected, Storj is a great platform to store highly sensitive data. This is due to their client-side encryption and network of over 13,000 nodes. I even scoured the internet looking for some gossip about a data breach, a hack, or anything… but I was not successful.
Amazon says that starting an AWS account may take up to 24 hours to be fully functional. On the other hand, Storj CEO, Ben Golub said, "Developers can get [Storj] up and running in a matter of minutes."
So, need quick access? Storj might be for you.
What Does AWS Do Better Than Storj?
To be honest, we struggled to find much here. However, there are three main factors that could tip the scale in the favor of AWS. Here’s when you should consider using AWS instead of Storj:
You’re already using AWS
If you’ve been around the Web2 block for a while, chances are your organization already uses AWS servers. If that’s your primary cloud storage platform, it will be a pain to move everything over. We get it — we're lazy too.
The benefits of the AWS ecosystem
The AWS ecosystem is insanely diverse and honestly, outside the scope of this article. However, you may find that you’re already relying on one of their AWS products — in which case, you’d want to remain within the ecosystem.
Amazon has a long-standing reputation for keeping multiple organizations online for decades. On the other hand, the crypto project, Storj, was founded in 2014, so it hasn’t had much time to earn that trust. Amazon was founded a whole 20 years earlier — 1994. During this time, Amazon has established itself as one of the biggest titans in the tech space.
So, if you want to store data for a long period of time (10+ years), you’d definitely feel more at ease going with a trusted company. Especially if you're not entirely convinced with crypto. We get it! You can use AWS as your primary provider in this case, and use Storj to test the waters.
How Does Storj Work?
Storj's architecture has three components:
- Storage Nodes
Storage nodes are what enable users to rent excess space on their hard drive(s).
Uplinks run the Storj machine. It acts as an assistant to anyone trying to upload, store, or retrieve data on the Storj network.
Satellites are like the traffic wardens of the Storj network. They help store metadata, validate the honesty of storage nodes and hand out payments. However, sometimes they will also store very small pieces of data.
A user requires permission from their satellite to store data on Storj — the uplink helps process this.
Next, the uploading data will go through something called "segmenting" activated by using a private key. In this process, the data is compressed, encrypted, and cut into lots of different pieces. These are called segments and smaller divisions are called stripes. The stripes are then distributed across the Storj network.
This process is why Storj is so secure.
To read the stored data, you will have to retrieve and decrypt the stripes. This is done by providing the private key used earlier to compress, encrypt, and cut the original file up.
What if a node goes offline and they have a vital part of my data? Well, luckily, Storj duplicates your data a number of times and distributes it to other nodes. This means that there is a low likelihood that all nodes holding one piece of information will be offline — it also conveniently safeguards from nodes being bad actors.
Decentralizing the world’s storage
Overall, Storj provides data storage at half the price of Amazon. And of course, with Storj, you don’t have to worry about your data being sold to other parties — because only you have access to the decrypted data! Therefore, unless you're particularly worried about the future of crypto or require other AWS services, Storj is a great alternative.
But wait! What about Filecoin?
Filecoin is the top storage token by market cap, why wouldn't I go with them? Well, let's take a closer look.
If you want better encryption, Storj is your pick. Filecoin stores your files as a complete unit on an IPFS backend node and has no default encryption when storing these files. This means that your data is at a higher risk of being accessed by an unwanted user. This is in contrast to Stroj which has a high level of encryption and decentralized storage of your data.
Pricing on Filecoin is also a bit more confusing. Storj offers a universal rate and allows users to pay in fiat. Whereas when pricing with Filecoin, you have to negotiate with each node that stores your data. This is not only more confusing but can work out cheaper to use Storj.
However, we're torn on the topic of decentralization. In a sense Storj is more decentralized as your data isn't stored on a single node, instead, it is distributed in little pieces. However, it utilizes a market maker to match you with nodes to store your data — rather than a decentralized way of finding nodes.
On the other hand, Filecoin is decentralized as it doesn't utilize a market maker and instead allows for a free match market where nodes and clients can openly negotiate. It also is built on its own blockchain while being able to interact with other smart-contract enabled chains.
So, they're both more decentralized than the other in different ways. So in this sense, it depends on what form of decentralization matters to you. Decentralization of data or decentralization of product?
Finally, what were they designed for? Storj was, you guessed it, designed for storage while Filecoin was designed for both storage and distribution of data.
What does data distribution actually mean? This enables data to quickly reach the people who need it. This could include file sharing on a large scale, live streaming, or file downloading.
While data storage enables data to be saved and then accessed when needed, it is less about speed. This is optimized for file sharing in a small group, multi-device synchronization, and cloud storage.
This is a major difference between the two products. If you are in major need for data distribution Filecoin might be the better project for you.