I’ve mentioned IPFS in the past as a distributed storage network. a simple way of stating what IPFS is, is to say that it allows clients to store and retrieve files without having to locate those files on a specific computer. but this notion is too simple when considering the longevity of storage. it is the case that you can push files into IPFS and retrieve them via gateways and do various short-term experiments, but eventually your files will be pushed out of everyone’s cache and while their addresses will still be meaningful to the their holders, the network will no longer have those files to give you. the problem is around incentive alignment.

the above link to my mention of IPFS pinning services is one way around this. you can pay someone money to maintain your files in the IPFS network. I use a pinning service to host this very blog at pinning works well enough for most purposes. however, this does introduce a new choke point in flow of data that allows a bad actor to censor content. the pinning service could choose to no longer do business with a publisher and that would cut off access after a time. this wouldn’t specifically pull the publisher’s content off of IPFS, as such a retraction is not possible, it would just stop the pinning service from acting as a seed of those files.

filecoin another means of persisting data in IPFS. filecoin incentivizes its users to store data by granting newly minted filecoins to participants who can prove they have stored a piece of data. this creates a two sided market place where storage providers offer their services and those with data to store bid on storage service. the filecoin/dollar exchange rate is afloat on the same wild seas that all cryptocurrencies are right now, which introduces some uncertainty in the availability of the network. fortunately, the designers of filecoin foresaw the issue of token price swings in their planning and accounted for this.

for futher reading on how filecoin accounts for price shocks, read this blog post. the short, short version is that there are two approaches to minting new coins, one which incentivizes growth during normal times, and one which hold back some resources, smoothing the availability of incentive to suppliers, for times when the prices drop. the approaches have yet to be fully tested in terms of a large scale market crash.