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The future of HTTP: What is IPFS?

munazhe profile image munazhe ・2 min read

WARNING: This post was written in nano; readers descretion is advised.

What is IPFS?

IPFS is an internet protocol just like HTTP built for the web. The key differences is that
IPFS is a hybrid between blockchain and peer to peer networks (p2p).

You can think of IPFS as the giant web version of Bit-torrent and blockchain comnbined. Bit-torrent is
the underlaying technology on how the files are distributed, while the blockchain is how the files are
managed. At the moment writing this, security with IPFS is still at alpha stage,
meaning; as a developer you have to do your own pre-encryption before sending things off into the orbit.

I have to stress the point that IPFS isn't 'decentralized' at it's core. It is distributed, even though it
shares the same principles as a decentralized network. If we say IPFS is decentralized, it would mean
each peer has a copy of the entire network, while that is possible it's not true for every peer on the network.

Therefore: at best it's decentralized, at worst, it's simply a distributed network.

In summary; the main difference between HTTP and IPFS is that HTTP serves files while IPFS distributes files
to whomever wants a piece of ownership. When a user requests for a file on HTTP they are temporarily gaining
ownership to the file; if the network shuts off, they can't no longer access that file. Whereas IPFS; if you request
a file, you are served the original copy of that file from the nearest node that lastly had access to that file.

At the end, on IPFS you get to own the file even if it isn't yours, because it was cryptographically singed by the original
owner using a hash of the content on the file and the node's private key. On HTTP, you are just another peer asking to
borrow services for the moment while the network remains online.

In theory: IPFS has great redundancy at the cost of latency, HTTP has low latency at the cost of redundancy. What does that all mean?

It means, HTTPS is good for realtime services like checking flight times and streaming music. On the other hand
IPFS is great at fool-proofing files, digital content ownership and giving power back to the user. Hence why it's blockchain
based.

TLDR; IPFS is a giant bit-torrent made for the web.

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