The Interplanetary File System (IPFS) explained

The Interplanetary File System (IPFS) explained

One of the most important and powerful technologies to emerge from this space is the Interplanetary File System (IPFS). IPFS is a protocol for sharing peer-to-peer networks like nodes, sharing data in a distributed file system and storing hypermedia files in fact IPFS can replace traditional protocol servers like HTTP and HTTPS. IPFS is the Decentralized storage of Web3.0 because there is no single point of failure and every file is crypto graphically verified. The protocol was created by Juan Benet at Protocol Labs around 2013. Here is a quick overview of the company and the technologies.

What is Protocol Labs?

“Protocol Labs is an open-source research, development, and deployment laboratory. Our projects include IPFS, Filecoin, libp2p, and many more. We aim to make human existence orders of magnitude better through technology. We are a fully distributed company. Our team of more than 100 members works remotely and in the open to improve the internet humanity’s most important technology as we explore new advances in computing and related fields.”

How dose IPFS work?

IPFS allows users to host and receive content in a manner similar to BitTorrent. As opposed to a centrally located server, IPFS is built around a decentralized system of user-operators who hold a portion of the overall data, creating a resilient system of file storage and sharing. Any user in the network can serve a file by its content address, and other peers in the network can find and request that content from any node who has it using a distributed hash table (DHT).

“IPFS implements a generalized version of this protocol called BitSwap, which operates as a marketplace for any type of data. This marketplace is the basis for Filecoin: a p2p storage marketplace built on IPFS.” - Hackernoon

“Files uploaded to IPFS are split into smaller chunks, distributed across multiple computers, and assigned a hash to allow users to locate them. Rather than use a familiar location-based link like the normal web, IPFS links are based on the unique hash identifier of each item. That helps locate which node or nodes have the file or website available; it’s then served to the user via a peer-to-peer connection, similar to BitTorrent technology. IPFS isn’t based on blockchain, but it is similarly immutable: the contents cannot be changed, otherwise the hash itself would also change. However, IPFS has a versioning system that lets you add a new version of a file and connect it to the previous one, ensuring that the entire history is maintained.” - /

What is Libp2p?

is an open-source network protocol for creating modern, fully distributed applications

Libp2p is a network utilized for decentralized peer-to-peer networking. It provides users the ability to generate modern, entirely administrated applications. Libp2p does this by offering particular tools aimed at developing peer-to-peer services and applications such as chat and file sharing.

Moreover, Libp2p's main goal is to offer simple abstractions for typical peer-to-peer use instances. It can serve as a basis for more customized peer-to-peer networks. Besides, by offering higher-level interfaces and adaptability, Libp2p also overcomes a few of the usual difficulties of creating P2P applications.

Libp2p currently just has networking layers, but multiple other initiatives are continuing to expand the stack toward an entire decentralized web stack.

The project was created by Protocol Labs with the goal to develop an entirely decentralized stack. In other words, it is an umbrella project that attempts to unite the disjointed environment of peer-to-peer protocols by offering clear APIs and guidelines that allow developers to quickly design dispersed apps.

Additionally, Libp2p is the base for IPFS, nevertheless, it can also be utilized across other applications that require a network stack. Libp2p is also a networking library collection. It includes numerous concepts that aid in the development of strong, efficient, and portable applications:

A set that includes TCP, UDP, and other common transport protocols.

A libp2p network stack implementation for connecting multiple programs by specifying their network communications in a human-readable and understandable way.

The IPFS (interplanetary file system) and Ethereum blockchains serve as the foundation for the network core.

A modular and extendable abstraction layer for several networks means of transport, including UDP, TCP, HTTP1, WebSockets, tls, mqtt, as well as others.

All in all, the libp2p architecture is made up of modular components that may be used alone or in conjunction with others. These components work together to create a versatile and expandable framework for developing and implementing decentralized protocols.


Bitswap is IPFS's central block exchange protocol. Its purpose is to request blocks from and send blocks to other peers in the network. Bitswap is a core module of IPFS for exchanging blocks of data. It directs the requesting and sending of blocks to and from other peers in the network. - IPFS Glossary


“Filecoin is an open-source cloud storage marketplace, protocol, and incentive layer.”

“Filecoin (⨎) is an open-source, public cryptocurrency and digital payment system intended to be a blockchain-based cooperative digital storage and data retrieval method. It is made by Protocol Labs and shares some ideas from InterPlanetary File System allowing users to rent unused hard drive space. A blockchain mechanism is used to register the deals. Filecoin is an open protocol and backed by a blockchain that records commitments made by the network’s participants, with transactions made using FIL, the blockchain's native currency. The blockchain is based on both proof-of-replication and proof-of-spacetime.”

- Wikipedia

IPFS use cases include:

It offers a pretty efficient way to access files (websites, videos, pictures, research papers, articles, etc.) from anywhere without depending on a centralized third party. This emphasis on decentralization makes the network faster, more democratic, and safer.

Users are far less likely to be affected by content censorship. Because you will be accessing the data straight from a source (a peer through a P2P connection), you could access even censored or locally blocked information.

IFPS can be pretty efficient in offering faster and more secure connectivity in places with relatively poorer internet connections.

The one downside for IPFS is the lack of a development IPFS Web3.0 browser with search engine capabilities. Maybe in the future a ChatGPT AI type browser can filter the Content Identifier the CID to determine if the content is safe by adding a function for Meta data during the development cycle. Since this is bleeding edge tech the development phase is just getting started. Keep in mind IPFS is also home to what people call the darkweb where anything can be found, so sensitive minds beware.

IPFS gateways

Users that wish to access content stored within IPFS can do so either using an IPFS client, such as the one provided here, or they can make use of “IPFS Gateways” which effectively sit between the internet and the IPFS network to allow clients to access content hosted on the network. This functionality is similar to what Tor2web gateways provide to access contents within the Tor network without requiring a client installation.

What are the Use Cases for IPFS?

So what can you do with the Inter Planetary File System or what problems dose it aims to solve? Firstly It’s a decentralized, peer-to-peer file-sharing network and open-source Web 3 service that is designed to overcome centralized points of failure and censorship.

DSN - Distributed Storage Network

You can create you own Social media platform because of the distributed storage network function

using File-coin which is also developed by Protocol Labs. File-coin is an incentivizes node token that allows operators to host files and receive cryptocurrency rewards also known as stacking. (We will speak about this later.)

DMS - Decentralized Music Service

You can create a music distribution network built around incentive tokens like Audius a decentralized music service that uses IPFS to host its audio files.

NFT hosting service

You can also create an NFT hosting service that uses IPFS to back up crypto collectibles like openSea.

Peer-to-Peer E commerce Platform

You can build a Peer to Peer marketplace using IPFS and Filecoin where you can offer Rental items, or Peer to peer services like hair cuts, tax preparation, teaching or Peer to peer products that are verified thru the decentralized ecosystem. For example Open-bazaar is a peer-to-peer eCommerce platform driven by IPFS which was renamed Mobazha. Side Note: This is the most attacked use case for IPFS and Web3.0 technology because it's the most difficult to regulate. Silk-road was a Peer-to-peer platform, but in the near future if you run a Node the powers that need not be will require K.Y.C for your Node to operate.

IPFS is just getting started as of March 2023 according to Protocol Labs IPFS has 2 million unique weekly users and some 200,000 network nodes, and about 125TB worth of gateway traffic per week. For more information I added the links below.

How to Use IPFS: The Backbone of Web3

What Is the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) and How Do You Use It?

Complete and Continue