The Cloudflare team has introduced Cloudflare’s IPFS Gateway which will make accessing content from the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) easy and quick without having to install and run any special software on a user’s computer. The gateway which supports new distributed web technologies is hosted at cloudflare-ipfs.com. The team asserts that this will lead to highly-reliable and security-enhanced web applications.
A brief gist of IPFS
When a user accesses a website from the browser, it tracks down the centralized repository for the website’s content. It then sends a request from the user’s computer to that origin server, and that server sends the content back to the user’s computer. However, this centralization mechanism makes it impossible to keep content online if the origin servers rolls back the data. If the origin server faces a downtime or the site owner decides to take down the data, the content stands unavailable.
On the other hand, IPFS is a distributed file system that allows users to share files that will be distributed to other computers- throughout the networked file system.
This means that a user’s content is stored on all the nodes of the network and data can be safely backed up.
Key Differences between IPFS and the traditional Web
#1 Free caching and serving of content
IPFS provides free caching and serving of content. Anyone can sign up their computer to be a node in the system and start serving data. On the flipside, the traditional web relies on big hosting providers to store content and serve it to the rest of the web. Setting up a website with these providers costs money.
#2 Content addressed data
Rather than location-addressed data, IPFS focuses on content addressed data. In the traditional web, when a user navigates to a website, it fetches data stored at the websites IP address. The server sends back the relevant information from that IP. With IPFS, every single block of data stored in the system is addressed by a cryptographic hash of its contents. When a user requests for a piece of data in IPFS, they request it by its hash .i.e content that has a hash value of, for example, QmXnnyufdzAWL5CqZ2RnSNgPbvCc1ALT73s6epPrRnZ1Xy
Why is Cloudflare’s IPFS Gateway Important?
The IPFS increases the resilience of the network. The content with a hash of-QmXnnyufdzAWL5CqZ2RnSNgPbvCc1ALT73s6epPrRnZ1Xy could be stored on dozens of nodes. So, if one of the nodes that was storing the content goes down, the network will just look for the content on another node. In addition to resilience, there is an automatic level of security introduced in the system. If the data requested by the user was tampered with during transit, the hash value the user gets will be different than the hash that he/she had asked for. This means that the system has a built-in way of knowing whether or not content has been tampered with.
Users can access any of the billions of files stored on IPFS from their browser. Using Cloudflare’s gateway, they can also build a website hosted entirely on IPFS available to users at a custom domain name. Any website connected to IPFS gateway will be provided with a free SSL certificate.
IPFS is embracing a new, decentralized vision of the web. Users will be able to create static web sites- containing information that cannot be censored by governments, companies, or other organizations- that are served entirely over IPFS.
To know more about this announcement, head over to Cloudflare’s official Blog.