What is blockchain?
Blockchain is incorruptible digital ledger that is used to store virtually everything of value across a wide range of computers in a verifiable and permanent way. Blockchain comprises of a decentralized network that verifies transactions on the network and a digital ledger that the network maintains permanently. Due to the decentralized feature of blockchain, the shared records and data cannot be easily hacked or changed by anyone. One of the main goals of blockchain is to ensure that everything that is recorded or shared online is secure and cannot be manipulated.
Amongst many other industries, blockchain technology is expected to change how data is stored in some few years to come. Instead of storing data on centralized servers like Amazon and Google drive, use of blockchain technology will enable decentralized storage of information by breaking up huge files into multiple smaller files, encrypting and sending them to hard drives located all over the world. By so doing individuals and businesses can earn money by renting out their unused drive space.
Current problem of data storage
Globally, people share their private, personal and sensitive information online while transacting or applying for any service that is offered through an online platform. This means that a lot of information is stored in various computers globally that is prone to hacking, as there is increased cases of cyber insecurity in the world today. Companies wanting to launch new data driven applications are consuming a lot of time, effort and coordination to provide new databases today. Notably, data is not only stored online, but also manually like in books especially in places where there is no internet connectivity. Data stored manually is much less secure because it is prone to theft and loss. Once data is lost it is hard to keep a good record of accomplishment, as some information will be missing making it incomplete. Therefore, it is important to come up with tight security and privacy measures that will ensure the information shared or recorded is permanently safe, transparent and secure. Deploying blockchain technology most important feature, that is decentralization, can be of great help in ensuring that whatever data we record and share globally is safe and secure.
Adopting blockchains most important feature-decentralization- can help change the way data is currently being stored as it comes with many advantages.
No point of failure: Decentralized storage means that data is not controlled from a central place. Unlike centralized storage offered by Amazon, IBM and Google drive, decentralized storage works by distributing the data across a network of computers globally. It works in a similar manner as the distributed ledger technology feature of blockchain. Currently, cloud based databases and single systems are highly centralized, which exposes them to hacking. In addition, should a controlling company’s system be affected, for instance in case of power outage, the whole system has an automatic point of failure. However, storing data in a decentralized manner ensures that even if there is an attack at a single point, the whole system will not be affected because other nodes in other locations will be functioning without any interruption from the affected area.
Security and Privacy: Decentralized storage ensures security and privacy of the stored information because it is difficult to hack. This is so because the files are encrypted with a private key that makes it impossible for anybody to view and manipulate the file, and then broken apart and spread across a wide network of computers globally. Moreover, due to partitioning of databases into logical lines (database sharding) and spreading it across multiple nodes, the files are just a fraction of their original self that render the reading of the whole content impossible.
Speed and latency: Storing data in a decentralized manner utilizes large group of nodes commonly known as swarms to store and manage data. The swarm effect increases speed and reduces latency by retrieving data in parallel from the nearest and fastest nodes. Geographically dispersed nodes in a swarm are many hence increasing reliability and scalability.
Smart contracts: smart contract is a computer protocol that digitally facilitates, verifies and enforces negotiations or performance of a contract. These can also be used with blockchains to ensure that transactions happen when certain conditions are met. This means that records can be changed or updated automatically without a need of human intervention.
With this revolutionary technology in the picture, exciting times awaits many industries. Data storage market is dominated by many third parties and blockchain developers are interested in providing solutions to challenges facing data storage market. In a few years or even months to come, everyone will have access to cheap and secure ways of handling the most sensitive information without need of trusting third parties and being exposed to cyber insecurity.