Usually when you use cloud storage, your files are being stored in a centralized data center owned by the company that runs the cloud storage platform. Sia, though, has a different idea of how to store your files and make use of “millions of terabytes” of otherwise unused storage all over the world. By decentralizing their storage system they aim to make a more reliable cloud storage platform.
Rather than hosting people’s files in one data center, Sia will have other people sign up as hosts to store the files. Anyone with spare storage can act as a host, but they will only get paid if they actually do store the files. The hosts have a blockchain-based contract that makes sure that the files are being stored where the host says they are being stored.
In order to ensure the security of users’ files, the files are processed using erasure coding. This means it is broken up into many smaller, encrypted pieces and made redundant. These smaller pieces are split among multiple hosts. Since the files are also made redundant, only a few hosts out of the many many hosts Sia hopes to have will need to be online in order for you to get to your files. You can read more details on their security plans on the Sia about page.
This is definitely a new take on cloud storage which will be interesting to see play out. On their about page they estimate the service will cost about $6 for a TB of storage per month. They also make the bold claim that Sia “will be the absolutely dominant service in the cloud storage market.”
Do you think Sia will be as powerful as they expect? Would you want to act as a host? Would you use a cloud storage system like this?