Cloudflare has introduced a new peer-to-peer file system that aims to support distributed web technologies. Called InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) Gateway, the new system doesn’t require users to install and run any special software on the computer.
Typically, whenever someone visits a website from the browser, the origin server is tracked down for the website content. A request is then sent from the computer to the server for fetching the content.
Cloudflare mentioned that this is a centralized approach and has a number of drawbacks. For instance, if the origin server is taken out by any natural disaster or if it gets hacked, the web content will go unavailable.
The IPFS Gateway will change the centralized approach and make the web a distributed system. It will connect thousands of computers globally on a peer-to-peer network. All these computers will store files on behalf of the network. Cloudflare said that more than 5 million files have already been uploaded to the IPFS.
With the centralized or traditional web, the websites rely on web hosting providers for storing content on their remote servers. The users need to pay for the web hosting and other services to set up a website.
The InterPlanetary File System will allow any user to sign up their computer to be a node in the peer-to-peer system and serve the data.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re working on a Raspberry Pi or running the world’s biggest server. You can still be a productive node in the system,” wrote Cloudflare in a blog post.
Further, the data in traditional approach is location-addressed, which means that whenever a browser visits a site, it fetches the data stored at website’s IP Address. On the other hand, the InterPlanetary File System is a content-addressed approach. What it means is that the data stored in a system is addressed by a cryptographic hash of its contents.
The aim of a distributed web is to make the network more resilient. The content with a hash of numbers and characters can be stored on multiple nodes, so if one node goes down, the network will look for content on another node. It is also a more secure method as the hash acts as a fingerprint for the files.
“We hope that our gateway, hosted at cloudflare-ipfs.com, will serve as the platform for many new highly-reliable and security-enhanced web applications,” added Cloudflare.
Images source: Cloudflare