Definitive Guide to IPFS: Decentralized Web3 Storage
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. What is IPFS?
  2. How does IPFS work?
  3. Why is IPFS important for Web3?
  4. How to use IPFS?
  5. IPFS and Blockchain
  6. IPFS use cases
  7. Challenges and limitations of IPFS
  8. Future of IPFS
  9. Resources for learning more about IPFS

Have you ever wondered how the internet would look if it got a complete makeover? Well, that's precisely what IPFS or InterPlanetary File System aims to do for Web3. This blog post is your definitive guide to understanding IPFS in Web3—a decentralized storage model that's turning heads in the digital world.

What is IPFS?

InterPlanetary File System, or IPFS, is like a new-age librarian for the internet. It's a protocol designed to make the web faster, safer, and more open. Instead of asking for files by their location on a server (like you'd say, "Hey, give me the book on the third shelf on the left"), IPFS lets you ask for files based on what they are. This is what we mean when we say "content-addressed". It's like saying, "Hey, can I have the book that starts with 'It was the best of times'?"

Here's a simple breakdown of what IPFS does:

  • Decentralizes Storage: IPFS takes your data, splits it up into smaller pieces, and spreads it across multiple nodes in the network. You don't need to rely on a single server or location for your file; it's everywhere!
  • Enhances Security: Since data isn't stored in one place, it's difficult for hackers to access it. Plus, IPFS uses cryptography—fancy math that keeps your information safe—for each file and all the blocks within it.
  • Improves Efficiency: IPFS uses a process called deduplication. If multiple copies of the same file exist, IPFS keeps one and tosses the rest. This saves a ton of space, making the system more efficient.

So, in understanding IPFS in Web3, you might think of it like a digital game of hide and seek, where your files are hidden (in a secure manner) across a network of computers, ready to be found when needed. It's a pretty cool concept, right? And it's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential of IPFS.

How does IPFS work?

Good question! Understanding IPFS in Web3 requires a look under the hood. Let's break down the process into simple steps:

  1. Data Splitting: First, IPFS breaks down a file into smaller chunks, known as blocks. Each block gets a unique identifier—kind of like a name tag—that's based on the content of the block.
  2. Distributing the Blocks: These blocks don't just sit around and do nothing; they're distributed across the IPFS network, stored on different nodes (computers). This way, even if one node goes down, your data still exists elsewhere.
  3. Finding the Blocks: When you want to retrieve a file, you don't need the location of the server where it's stored. You just need the unique identifiers of its blocks. IPFS then fetches these blocks from the closest nodes, saving bandwidth and speeding up the process.
  4. Reconstructing the File: Finally, IPFS puts all the blocks back together, and voila, you have your file!

Imagine if the internet were a giant jigsaw puzzle, and each piece of the puzzle was stored in a different location. When you want to see the whole picture, you don't need to know where each piece is stored; you just need to know what each piece looks like. IPFS collects all the pieces and assembles the puzzle for you. That's a pretty neat trick, right?

So, understanding IPFS in Web3 isn't just about knowing what it is, but also comprehending how it works. And now that we've got that down, we can dive deeper into why IPFS is a game-changer for the future of the web.

Why is IPFS important for Web3?

Let's get straight to the point: IPFS is a key player in the development of Web3. But why?

  1. Decentralization: Web3 aims to create a user-centric internet, where you control your data—not big tech companies. IPFS helps achieve this by storing data across multiple nodes, not centralized servers.
  2. Security: When you're surfing the web, you want to know that your data is safe, right? With IPFS, data integrity is ensured. Remember those unique identifiers for each block? They help ensure that the data you receive hasn't been tampered with.
  3. Efficiency: IPFS can fetch data from the closest nodes, making data retrieval faster and more efficient. In a world where we crave speed and efficiency, that's a pretty big deal.
  4. Offline Functionality: Ever tried to access a website when the server was down? Frustrating, isn't it? With IPFS, as long as one node with the data is accessible, you can retrieve your data. This also makes IPFS a robust solution for areas with unstable internet connections.

So, understanding IPFS in Web3 also means recognizing its importance in creating a more secure, efficient, and democratic internet. The next time you hear someone talk about the future of the web, you'll know exactly why IPFS is making waves.

How to use IPFS?

Now that you understand what IPFS is and why it's important, you might be wondering, "How can I start using IPFS?" Well, you're in luck. Here's a simple guide to get you started:

  1. Install IPFS: The first step is to install IPFS on your system. You can download the installation guide from the official IPFS website. Follow the instructions, and you'll be ready to go in no time.
  2. Add Your Files: Once you've installed IPFS, you can start adding your files. Imagine you have a file named 'my-file.txt'. You'd just need to run a simple command: 'ipfs add my-file.txt'. This will add your file to the IPFS network.
  3. Access Your Files: After adding your file, IPFS will give you a unique hash. This hash acts like an address to your file. So, to access your file, all you need to do is run 'ipfs cat [your unique hash]'. Voila! You can now view your file.
  4. Share Your Files: Sharing your files with others is as easy as giving them your unique hash. They can use this hash to access your file from any IPFS node. Remember, your file isn't stored in one place—it's distributed across the network.

And there you have it, a beginner's guide to using IPFS. With these steps, you're well on your way to understanding IPFS in Web3 and how to use it. So, what are you waiting for? Give it a try!

IPFS and Blockchain

Understanding IPFS in Web3 wouldn't be complete without discussing its relationship with blockchain. These two technologies are like two sides of the same coin, each contributing vital features to the decentralized web.

Firstly, let's talk about how IPFS and blockchain complement each other. Blockchain, as you might know, is excellent at storing transactions and maintaining an immutable record over time. However, it's not really designed for storing large amounts of data. That's where IPFS comes in handy. IPFS can handle vast quantities of data and distribute it across the network, ensuring it's always available.

  1. Data Integrity: Both blockchain and IPFS use cryptographic hashing, which ensures data integrity. When a file is added to IPFS, it generates a unique hash. Any change in the file leads to a change in the hash, thus making data tampering easily detectable.
  2. Decentralization: Both blockchain and IPFS contribute to the decentralization of the web. While blockchain removes the need for a central authority in transactions, IPFS decentralizes data storage by distributing files across numerous nodes.
  3. Efficiency: IPFS can store blockchain data more efficiently than traditional data storage methods. Instead of storing entire blockchain transactions, you can store just the hash of the transaction on the blockchain and the actual data on IPFS.

So, in the world of Web3, IPFS and blockchain go hand in hand. They work together to create a more secure, efficient, and democratic internet.

IPFS Use Cases

Now that you're gaining a solid understanding of IPFS (Interplanetary File System) in Web3, you might be wondering, "Where can I see this in action?" Let's explore a few fascinating ways people are using IPFS today.

  1. Decentralized Websites: People are using IPFS to build decentralized websites. Traditional websites are hosted on central servers, which can go down or be censored. IPFS distributes the website files across multiple nodes, making the website more resilient and harder to censor.
  2. Data Storage: IPFS is a cost-effective, secure, and efficient option for storing big data. Companies can store large data files on IPFS, ensuring they're permanently accessible and tamper-proof.
  3. Content Distribution: Content creators can use IPFS to distribute their work to a global audience. This is particularly useful for artists and musicians who want to retain control over their work and ensure it's permanently accessible.
  4. Archiving: IPFS is being used to archive important digital content. The decentralized network ensures the content is safe from data loss or tampering.

These are just a few examples. The potential uses for IPFS in Web3 are as wide and varied as the internet itself. As more people understand the power and potential of IPFS, we can only expect this list to grow!

Challenges and Limitations of IPFS

While understanding IPFS (Interplanetary File System) in Web3 opens up a world of possibilities, it's also important to recognize its limitations and challenges. Let's go through some of these:

  1. Data Persistence: The decentralized nature of IPFS means that data is not always available. If no node in the network is hosting a particular file, that file becomes inaccessible.
  2. Speed: IPFS can often be slower than traditional web hosting. This is because retrieving a file involves searching multiple nodes, which can take time.
  3. Complexity: The technology behind IPFS is complex and can be difficult to understand. This complexity can be a barrier for many people who are new to Web3.
  4. Legal and Security Concerns: With IPFS, once data is uploaded, it's almost impossible to remove. This can raise legal and security concerns, particularly around data privacy.

These challenges don't mean IPFS isn't a powerful tool for Web3. It's just that, like any new technology, it has its growing pains. As we continue to develop and understand IPFS better, we can expect many of these issues to be addressed.

Future of IPFS

Having explored the challenges, it's essential to glimpse into the future of IPFS in the Web3 landscape. After all, understanding IPFS (Interplanetary File System) in Web3 isn't just about today, but where it's headed tomorrow.

First off, we can expect even more integration of IPFS into the blockchain world. As blockchain technology continues to explode, we should see more projects adopting IPFS, recognizing its potential for creating more decentralized and robust systems.

Secondly, we might see improvements in data persistence. Innovative solutions are already being developed to ensure data remains accessible, even when not hosted by any node. For instance, Filecoin, a decentralized storage network, incentivizes individuals to offer storage, ensuring data availability.

Lastly, initiatives are underway to improve the speed of IPFS. Developers are constantly working on updates and upgrades to make the system faster and more efficient.

From these points, it's clear that the future of IPFS is bright and full of potential. It's an exciting time to be in the field and witness the evolution of this revolutionary technology.

Resources for Learning More about IPFS

So, you've got a basic understanding of IPFS in Web3, but where do you go from here? Well, the good news is there are plenty of resources out there to help you dive deeper into this subject.

One of the best places to start is the official IPFS documentation. It's a one-stop shop for all things IPFS. It's detailed, up-to-date, and covers everything from the basics to more advanced topics. It's like a treasure trove of information waiting to be explored.

Another great resource is the IPFS GitHub repository. This is where the magic happens — the code is developed, updated, and maintained. It's a window into the inner workings of IPFS. But don't be intimidated! Even if you're not a coding wizard, it's a useful place to see what's being worked on and what's coming up in the future.

Lastly, online communities like Stack Overflow and Reddit have dedicated sections for IPFS. Here, you can ask questions, share your experiences, and learn from others who are also navigating the world of IPFS. It's like having a virtual study group!

Remember, the journey to understanding IPFS (Interplanetary File System) in Web3 is ongoing. As the technology evolves, so should your knowledge. So, don't stop learning and exploring. Who knows what you might discover?

If you're fascinated by the concept of decentralized web3 storage and want to learn more, we highly recommend checking out the workshop 'Start Your web3 Journey' by Tom Glendinning. This workshop will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the web3 ecosystem and help you kickstart your journey in the decentralized world.