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Decentralized cloud storage: What you need to know

Decentralized storage in the cloud could help protect against cyberattacks, among other benefits. Explore the uses for this emerging technology, plus some of its challenges.

Decentralized cloud storage is set to disrupt the cloud storage market.

The technology breaks data into fragments and scatters them across a variety of cloud-based storage devices, rather than centrally storing in any one cloud. In some ways, decentralized cloud storage works similarly to bit torrents, which seed data on machines that participate in the torrent network. One key difference, however, is that decentralized cloud storage is based on the use of blockchain technology, which helps to ensure the integrity of the data.

Top benefits and uses

One benefit of decentralized cloud storage is reliability. Traditional cloud storage stores data within a single provider's data center. If a natural disaster or cyberattack causes problems in that data center, users could lose their data. Even in a less catastrophic situation, a data center outage would prevent customers from accessing their data. While the big cloud storage providers offer their customers the option to replicate data to centers in other regions, this practice can get expensive, so not everyone takes advantage of it.

Decentralized cloud storage scatters data across multiple cloud storage devices in a variety of places. This process helps to insulate the data against center-level failures.

The technology is also a good choice for users who want to ensure the privacy of their data. No single cloud provider has a full copy of the data, so a provider cannot read the data. Even if users aren't concerned about a cloud provider that snoops through data, keeping it decentralized helps insulate against a breach. If a hacker infiltrates a cloud storage provider, they would only be able to get data fragments. This benefit makes decentralized cloud storage especially appealing to organizations subject to regulatory compliance.

Chart of decentralized storage providers

Challenges to decentralized cloud storage adoption

There are three major challenges that stand in the way of the widespread adoption of decentralized cloud storage.

Decentralized cloud storage scatters data across multiple cloud storage devices in a variety of places.

Some organizations are reluctant to use the technology because of the problems it could cause. They say data loss could occur if storage devices go offline. However, the more reputable decentralized cloud storage providers use enough storage redundancy that this type of data loss should not happen.

Some have concerns over performance. Data fragments are scattered across numerous storage devices, so read/write performance can be unpredictable.

Finally, the major cloud providers do not yet offer decentralized data storage products. As a result, users who want decentralized cloud storage will need to buy from a lesser-known vendor such as Storj or Sia. At the same time, these smaller vendors might appeal to users who do not fully trust the larger providers regarding the privacy of their data.

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