How the Future of Data Storage Depends on a New Approach to Blockchain

Data is everything in the digital age, but securely storing such large, unprecedented amounts of data has several challenges. Arweave aims to solve them via blockchain technology.

The amount of data in the world is expected to double every year.

Developments like the Internet of Things and the rise of machine learning mean that we’re now producing data at previously unimaginable levels, and it’s infiltrating every aspect of our lives.

It’s thought that by 2020 there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users — a seriously big chunk of the global population. Almost every one of us is producing huge amounts of data every day.

In many ways, it’s a good thing.

If harnessed properly, this data can be used to improve our lives in all kinds of ways. Things like self-driving cars and smart homes are just some of the more obvious applications for all this data, there are many more transformational uses hiding behind the scenes.

But data also generates problems, especially on this kind of insane scale. In order to really reap the benefits of all this data, we need effective ways to store it. Otherwise, it’ll just go to waste.

The problem here is that data storage has never been an easy task. We need to figure out how to store vast amounts of information securely, and in a way that’s both long-term and easily accessible.

Perhaps most importantly, we need a method of storage that scales well, that can adapt to the exponentially increasing volume of data in the world.

Let’s take a look at the current landscape.

The challenge of data storage so far

When storing data, there are a number of important problems to tackle. The first issue most organizations run into is the question of infrastructure and physical space. Storing your company’s data on CD-ROMs and floppy disks isn’t going to cut it in the age of Big Data.

Even with a large premises and advanced storage hardware, you’re going to quickly run out of space.

Another issue is cost. Storing data doesn’t come cheap, and it’s important to consider just how much of a budget you want to allocate to storing data effectively.

Scalability is also important. As a business or organization grows, it tends to produce more data. And as mentioned above, the rapid advancement of technology in general means we’re all producing more data year on year. Storage systems have to be able to adapt effectively.

Finally, security is a massive concern. Preventing hackers from gaining access to important data is a priority for most, but it isn’t the only threat. There are also natural disasters, system failures, internal corruption, and many other possible scenarios to consider. Any one of these things can bring an organization to its knees if not properly managed.

Cloud storage has proven to be a pretty neat solution to the infrastructure problem, allowing users to store their data off-site and eliminating the need for a huge amount of storage hardware.

The cloud is also relatively affordable for low and mid-level users, with most services requiring a monthly subscription that probably won’t break the bank. However, as data storage needs increase, that subscription fee can skyrocket.

There’s also the security issue. Cloud storage systems are improving in this area, but history has borne witness to quite a few serious security breaches involving cloud storage. As data becomes more crucial to society, these kinds of breaches and hacks simply aren’t acceptable.

So, what’s the answer?

Arweave believe it’s a new structure of blockchain technology.

How blockchain will change data storage

Blockchain is perfectly adapted for secure data storage, thanks to its immutable, decentralized design and famous resistance to both external hacking and internal corruption.

But blockchain, while highly promising when it comes to security, is lacking in some other areas. The main weakness is scalability — blockchains tend to struggle when loaded with too much data.

This makes the current blockchain models poorly equipped for a world where data doubles in volume every 12 months. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s possible to tweak the way blockchain works, allowing it to handle much higher amounts of data on a long-term basis without feeling too much strain.

This is what Arweave are working on.

Sam Williams, CEO of Arweave interviewed for CNBC

They want to challenge the current blockchain storage model, which requires third-party protocols to be built on top of existing blockchains to meet storage demands.

Blockweave, a newly developed technology will allow large volumes of data to be stored directly on the blockchain. As the amount of data stored increases, the amount of hashing required actually decreases!

"We offer something totally new that never really existed in human history before, which is the ability to truly store data permanently" says Sam Williams, CEO of Arweave.

This new approach means blockchains will be able to adapt to a world where data is growing all the time. It’s a way of preserving blockchain’s inherent security while solving the issues of scalability and accessibility.

"What we've done is actually solved on-chain data storage, unlike other solution with P2P file distribution network in the background and then settlement of payment on-chain we have made a system of cryptoeconomics incentives that allow you to grow the size of the blockchain to massive sizes and then distribute the data across all computers", William adds.

As data’s place in the world becomes ever more prominent, blockchain will need to rise to the occasion and meet new storage demands.

With Arweave's mainnet launching tomorrow, the v2.0 of data storage may just around the corner.