Friday, January 20, 2006

New Wave in Peer-to-Peer File Storage/Backup?

Who knows what the future will bring, but I tend to agree with people who think that ubiquitous peer-to-peer file storage is coming. And soon.

At least one company, Allmydata, Inc., in Mountain View, California, makes one solution available for early adopters. Looks very interesting. It's free in the sense that if you allocate ten units of storage to the project, you get to use one unit free. How much is up to you. (They say it's unlimited, but I suppose that if nothing else you'll run into a bandwidth limitation somewhere along the way.)

I've looked forward to this for several years, ever since reading a paper by an IBM senior genius whose name I didn't retain. He wrote about distributed, encrypted, online storage of materials in a way that would make them immune to censorship. Repressive governments would be helpless to take down sites hostile to their aims because the materials would not exist on any such site - they'd be distributed. I don't recall the specifics of the IBM paper, and I've not been able to find it online, but it struck me as revolutionary, disruptive and cool. I took my hat off to IBM for being in that vanguard.

Anyway, it seems to me that the age of ubiquitous peer-to-peer secure file storage is just about here. Rather than write any more inadequate words on the topic I'll just point to what some other people have written on the topic here, here and here.

I have not installed the Allmydata offering because of the way I use my XP computer, which would require that my contribution to the project be out of service for long periods. When that changes I'll check it out. By then, I predict, we'll all be hearing plenty about this new wave in storage technology.


Anonymous said...


Do you remember the Freenet project ? It's apparently still running. it's a decentralised network, where any connected computer hosts a part a the whole network. So that it's impossible to know who has one file, or to censor datas.
This is what is doing allmydata, bt privately, and paid...

Steve said...

Hi, and thanks for the comment and the link to the freenetproject. I will look at it closely this evening.

One of the things that attracted my attention to the allmydata thing was that it need not be paid depending on how much disk space you allocate to it. I'll go see what the freenet model is.

Cheers from Phoenix! Steve

Steve said...

OK, I think I have the gist of Freenet now.

Freenet is a very interesting project, but its purpose is fundamentally different from that of the likes of Allmydata.

Freenet's purpose is "to combat censorship and allow people to communicate freely and with near-total anonymity" [Wikipedia], whereas the idea behind Allmydata and similar is much simpler: distributed data storage. There is some overlap in technique but that's about it.

The use of Allmydata would be essentially self-serving while, in principle, the use of Freenet is an altruistic activity in the service of freedom. One interesting tidbit from the Wikipedia article has to do with the breakdown of Freenet usage. Although it is apparently very hard to determine the nature of materials on Freenet, it seems the bulk of it is music and porn. Music and porn are fine with me, but I have a hard time accepting that this is what the Freenet people have in mind when they act against censorship.

To be clear, I do not think that the presence of music and porn reflect badly on Freenet. Freenet is just a tool. Like any tool, it can be used for the good, the bad and the ugly.

I think the people behind Freenet deserve the same sort of admiration as people like Phil Zimmerman of Pretty Good Privacy fame. Rebels with good causes.

Anonymous said...

Fanatics of the P2P super power gave birth to the devil.
It is the strongest P2P file sharing system Share NT.
And, Because UDP is used, even the band limiting that the internet service provider does is exceeded.

Share (P2P) - Wikipedia