Gert-Jan van der Wel

hi@gertjanvanderwel.com

Here I share what I'm up to and working on at the moment. I aim to update it every few weeks. If you want me to send you an email whenever I wrote something new, you can sign up here.

The InterPlanetary File System

hobby - 21 Nov 2018

IPFS

My website runs on a tiny computer in the basement of my house. It’s a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B that’s connected to the internet via my home modem. It’s not exactly what you’d call an enterprise grade solution, but it’s good enough for me as my site doesn’t get much traffic. Actually, I have no clue how many people visit my site because I don’t keep track, which is on purpose. If I’d monitor the traffic I’d try to make it grow. Not knowing is much more relaxed.

Sometimes I look around for another way to host my website and this time the blog post by Cloudflare about their IPFS gateway sparked my interest. I’ve been following the IPFS project for a while now as it’s one of these rare blockchain projects that might make sense. Here is how they summarise their project:

IPFS is the Distributed Web. A peer-to-peer hypermedia protocol to make the web faster, safer, and more open.

Currently most websites and internet apps run in very large warehouses stacked with thousands of computers called data centers. Whenever you visit a website or use a mobile app, files and other data are loaded from these data centers and sent to your phone or laptop. This puts quite a bit of strain on the data centers and the pipes to and from them. Having the internet centralised in a few massive data centers also bring some risk along with it. When a data center goes down it can break the internet.

The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) tries to solve these issues by being a network. Instead of having a small amount of massive data centers and large pipes, it’s a network of millions/billions of small computers (called nodes) that are all connected together. Files are securely stored on the network, and when you visit a website the content is loaded from a node nearest to you. This makes it fast but also resillient. If one node goes down, another one can provide the content you were looking for.

However, it’s still very early days for the IPFS. I uploaded my website to the IPFS network which is fairly easy to do, but I have to keep an IPFS node running to keep it available. I would also have to update my DNS record whenever I make a change to my site. But I do like the idea of a decentrilized web so I’ll keep trying it out and eventually might switch my website over completely.