by Dr. Adam Weigold, CEO of Cryptyk
I was at a blockchain conference last month and talking to a group of very smart people in the space. The conversation centered around Cryptyk’s hybrid blockchain platform and how it compares to competitive blockchain file storage technologies from Sia, Storj and Filecoin. When asked what our major differentiator was, I replied “First of all we don’t store files on the blockchain. We store them on a decentralized cloud platform and then we use the blockchain as a network auditing mechanism and extra layer of access security.”
Then I was asked why we don’t store files on the blockchain like our competitors. Another member of our group then answered quite bluntly for me. He blurted out, with unflinching conviction, “Storing files on the blockchain is a very stupid idea!”. I then qualified my colleagues statement with “ ……. at least for most real-world storage applications that is”.
Although I wouldn’t have normally used his terminology, my colleague was exactly right. Storing files on the blockchain is a very stupid idea for the vast majority of cloud storage applications. Why? Because of an inherent weakness in blockchain technology for most cloud applications ….. large access latency.
Access latency is the time delay it takes for the user to access an online network and verify that a transaction is authorized to proceed (eg: to start the upload / download of a file). Blockchain consensus protocols typically have access latencies of at least 30 seconds or more. The more nodes you have in a blockchain network the larger the access latency. And latency is at least 30 seconds when the blockchain has first been deployed.
Once the network grows to thousands or even millions of users, access latency gets even worse. Remember when Bitcoin transactions would happen in just ten to twelve minutes? Now it can take many hours to process a Bitcoin transaction. And that is because the access latency of Bitcoin is not scaling well with user adoption. Nor will any other blockchain. It is a fundamental weakness of the technology. Hence applications that require low access latency are not well suited for blockchain. And file storage is one of those applications. A graph of the access latency versus node number is shown above for various decentralized technologies.
So, if you are ok to wait 30, 60 or 90 seconds to start the upload or download of your files, by all means, store your files on the blockchain. By my assessment, the only real-world application of blockchain storage technologies is for back-up storage of batch file content. But if you want secure cloud storage that can accommodate live editing and real-time collaboration, blockchain file storage is not for you. Ultimately, the inconvenience of storing files on the blockchain will outweigh any potential cost savings.
For collaborative and live editing storage applications, the Cryptyk solution ticks all the boxes. Our decentralized multi-cloud storage platform offers greater security than blockchain file storage, and has a tested access latency of less than 200 milliseconds. We use the permanent immutable nature of blockchain technology to form an extra layer of security and act as an auditing mechanism for all file sharing, user access and communication events. Consequently, this hybrid blockchain solution is not affected by the slow access latency of blockchain because it is not being used for file storage or other time critical applications. To find out more about hybrid blockchain technology you can download the Technology White paper at our token sale site at cryptyk.io.