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[NNT] Comparing decentralized storage solutions: NeoFS, Sia, Filecoin, and Swarm

Decentralized storage has long been proclaimed as the backbone for Web 3.0, the next-gen Internet, but its capabilities and general accessibility for the masses have been consistently limited by the lack of an incentive structure. These are vital for providing users with guarantees that data will be kept available and delivered promptly when needed. This is otherwise very difficult—if not outright impossible—to promise in a truly decentralized environment.

Since the emergence of blockchain, various projects have begun exploring its application as an incentive layer for decentralized storage markets, with several noteworthy storage solutions beginning to fight centralized hosts for market dominance across a number of application scenarios.

In this article, we’ll introduce the main concepts of decentralized data storage and consider its potential applications, using them to compare Neo’s native solution, NeoFS, with other related and well-known projects in the blockchain industry—Sia, Filecoin, and Swarm.

Why use decentralized data storage?

Before diving further into comparisons between the various solutions, we should lend context by considering the advantages and challenges involved with decentralized storage, in contrast to their centralized counterparts.

The simplicity and low maintenance of cloud storage resulted in a mass migration of data to centralized servers, both for casual users and businesses with large storage needs. Due to economies of scale, this has led to the emergence of massive data silos, predominantly owned and operated by tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Google.

Though competition between corporations ensures that users are provided with a number of service providers to choose from, the nature of the services themselves often attracts concern over the potential for censorship or misuse of private data. The shift to cloud storage also creates an incr...

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