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Author Topic: [IDEA] Dirt cheap online storage  (Read 6617 times)
SgtSpike
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June 08, 2012, 11:07:23 PM
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I was looking for online storage providers last night... they all charge an insane amount if you want to store large amounts of data (most were more than $100/month for 1TB of data... what??).  So I got to thinking, what about integrating Bitcoin into a distributed file storage system?

I believe I have heard of torrent-like file storage systems, where pieces of people's personal files (encrypted, of course) are stored across other users hard drives.  What about taking that sort of system a step further?

Files would be distributed across other users computers, but each user could be paid for volunteering their extra HDD space and bandwidth for the purpose.  They could set their own price (in Bitcoins) per GB of storage and per GB of bandwidth, and anyone needing to store files would automatically be given the best price for storage.  Sort of like a GPUMax for online storage.

Of course, you'd want each piece of the files to be backed up in more that one location, so that they are accessible regardless of whether some of the hosting computers are turned off or not.  Maybe people could pay extra for extra backups too.  2x copies would be standard, 3x copies could be paid for with 50% more on the price, 4x copies 100% more, etc.  And any host falling below a specified amount of uptime during a given time period would be booted from providing and/or not get paid.

The main reason for the project is this:  I think individual users are able to, and much more willing to, sell online storage space for much less than a hosting company would.  For example, I'd be willing to rent out 100GB of space with 500GB of bandwidth for $5/month.  Dropbox will do the same for $20/month.  Add another user like me, who is willing to rent out 100GB of space for $5/month, and you have your two copies, but it only costs the user $10/month instead of $20/month with dropbox.

Thoughts?  Would this be doable/practical/feasible/useful?

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June 08, 2012, 11:10:31 PM
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This is definitely something I'd participate in both ways.

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June 08, 2012, 11:13:21 PM
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So, maybe something like Freenet's data storage scheme (maybe without the possibility of old data being removed), but with financial incentive to provide storage space and a free market system to ensure that using it stays cheap? Sounds like a great idea, and a great place to integrate bitcoin transactions.

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June 08, 2012, 11:17:24 PM
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So, maybe something like Freenet's data storage scheme (maybe without the possibility of old data being removed), but with financial incentive to provide storage space and a free market system to ensure that using it stays cheap? Sounds like a great idea, and a great place to integrate bitcoin transactions.
Right, exactly!

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June 09, 2012, 03:45:44 AM
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I love the idea, I can sell out the TB's of hdd space I have on a vps.

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June 09, 2012, 04:00:08 AM
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This has been done before, several years before Bitcoin was ever invented. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the program but it was an open source P2P network with its own virtual currency. Obviously it never caught on.

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June 09, 2012, 04:08:31 AM
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This is an interesting idea.

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June 09, 2012, 05:32:44 AM
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This has been done before, several years before Bitcoin was ever invented. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the program but it was an open source P2P network with its own virtual currency. Obviously it never caught on.
Interesting...

Do you think Bitcoin would help it, uh, catch on easier?

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June 09, 2012, 05:46:36 AM
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Do you think Bitcoin would help it, uh, catch on easier?
The project is dead now but from what I can remember the fundamental economic model was broken. You had to pay upload and to download and the only ways to earn currency was to donate hard drive space or run indexing and directory services. They never could figure out a good pricing mechanism that actually worked.

It's been so long ago that I can't seem to find any reference to it and nobody I've asked can remember what it was called.

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June 09, 2012, 05:49:30 AM
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Ah, ok.  I think Bitcoin would serve the purpose much better!

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June 09, 2012, 06:03:57 AM
 #11

Found it:

Mojo Nation

It was extensively covered on Slashdot in the 2000-2002 timeframe.

When the company that was developing it started to run out of money they tried to take it commercial and turn it into a LAN backup product called Hive Cache.

One of the developers forked it as Mnet but without the micropayments. The source for Mnet is still available so someone who was so inclined might be able to revive the project and incorporate Bitcoin. The original Mojo Nation code was LGPL and there are still copies of it floating around too.

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June 09, 2012, 07:11:59 AM
 #12

Wow, well that sounds like the perfect thing to start from...

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June 09, 2012, 07:24:07 AM
 #13

Wow, well that sounds like the perfect thing to start from...
Given the leanings of the founder of that project it might even be possible to get the original creators on board.

The idea was good but it was about a decade too early...

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June 09, 2012, 08:04:10 AM
 #14

TL;DR what do you want offsite storage FOR? Do you actually want it at all or are you really wanting gun money, troop payroll financing, candy pocketmoney or what?

I suspect that using an accounting token that has uses other than simply keeping everyone's usage within the bounds of their contribution will provide un-useful incentive to abuse, thus that it is preferable not to resort to such tokens unless it is mission-critical that people who do not use the service themselves provide the service.

For off-site backups, for example, the desired feature is not the volume of storage space but the relocation of storage space from on-site to off-site.

Paying for off-site storage using tokens (currency) that people who are not looking to buy such storage space will actually want for other purposes entirely simply serves to attract every hacker faker freeloader etc who is interested in buying drugs, guns, troops, candy, liquor, or gosh knows what else, desiring neither to provide offsite storage nor to obtain offsite storage but merely to obtain their desired guns, troops, drugs, candy or whatever at other people's expense by fooling/repurposing other-purpose token (currency) networks to the new/different purpose, whether it be the financing of drugs, weapons, troops, candy, or whatever.

If however the only thing the tokens can buy is off-site storage, and the only way to obtain them is by providing off-site storage, the tokens might manage more easily to bypass folks looking to accomplish such re-purposing simply by being not too obscure but simply too limited in liquidity on general token/currency markets to be as attractive a target as other more general-purpose tokens such as bitcoins.

Thus if you are on the demand side, that is, actually wanting the service, directly trading the service itself (storage) as provisioned on your site for the service itself (storage) as provisioned on someone else's site might be a much less attractive setup from attackers / freeloaders / other-purpose-financiers point of view.

Basically, if I want to store N copies of my data, then I need an amount of storage N times the size of my data.

If some of those copies are to be stored off-site, then I still need as much storage, I just happen to need some of it to be located off-site.

Thus it seems reasonable I provision storage N times as large as my data and that for each copy of my data I am able to move off-site I free up as much space on-site as I consume off-site.

I might want N to be larger if third parties are involved, in proportion to the reliability I attribute to such third parties, but basically if we all plan to have a certain amount of storage and are looking to swap on-site storage for off-site storage, not to leech gun-money, gum-money, troop-payroll money or whatever other kind of money from wherever we can whenever we can by making whatever representations those we leech such things off of need to be told / need to hear / need to see in order for us to thus leech... maybe we would be better off simply trading such storage directly instead of trying to make our network a desireable target for repurposing attacks?

-MarkM-

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June 09, 2012, 08:10:53 AM
 #15

https://tahoe-lafs.org/trac/tahoe-lafs

One of the developers (Zooko) is into bitcoin.  Perhaps starting a discussion about this on the tahoe-dev list would be well received.  There may be a way to easily integrate servers advertising a bitcoin address to encourage them to provide more space.

While no idea is perfect, some ideas are useful.
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markm
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June 09, 2012, 08:14:57 AM
 #16

Tahoe-LAFS is designed more for deployment oneself than for trading space with others.

That is, if you are going to have multiple sites yourself, Tahoe-LAFS might well be one of the best ways to utilise such sites.

But with multiple parties providing the sites, something more like GNUnet (but maybe able to be deployed on more operating-systems than GNUnet currently supports) would be more suitable.

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June 09, 2012, 06:17:22 PM
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I suspect that using an accounting token that has uses other than simply keeping everyone's usage within the bounds of their contribution will provide un-useful incentive to abuse, thus that it is preferable not to resort to such tokens unless it is mission-critical that people who do not use the service themselves provide the service.
The incentives would need to be thought through carefully. If it was a simple matter of paying people to accept data then it would be attractive to scammers who would just throw your data into a bit bucket and take your Bitcoins.

If it is intended to be a distributed alternative to DropBox based on the Mojo model the people offering storage space would need an incentive to keep their nodes online and connected, which means an income stream proportional to the amount data they are holding and their node's past performance.

Block servers could all advertise a daily storage cost per block in an auction and the nodes seeking to upload data could send their blocks to the lowest bidder.

Each day (or whatever time interval is used) before a node issues payment for block storage it should query a percentage of random blocks from each block server to verify that the block server actually has the data. If it fails to deliver the requested data the block server would first not get paid and second that information should be fed to a reputation system.

If a user doesn't pay for storage it would be up to the block server to decide what to do. It could discard the data immediately, or it could retain it and demand back payments to release it, or most likely it would keep it until it was either paid for or until the block server ran out of space and unpaid blocks were overwritten by paying blocks.

So in the end the user wanting to store data tells his node the maximum amount he is willing to pay per day to store his data and how much redundancy/reliability he wants and the node automatically tries to find the most cost effective solution based on the block servers which are advertising free space and their reputations.

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June 09, 2012, 07:12:35 PM
 #18

I would like that distributed online storage would be implemented as an option to store the phucking blockchain that is already eating 3 GB per each client that I use, and take hours to update if I don't do it for some weeks.

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June 09, 2012, 07:24:28 PM
 #19

A straight swap still seems simpler. Want one of your blocks back? Gimme one of mine. Tell me which of yours you want and I'll reply telling you which of mine I want. Probably first wanting just a specific function of the block, only progressing to gimme the entire block if actually the whole block is needed/wanted not merely indication that the other party has enough of its bits to be able to answer the specific query.

"You want me to tell you what the bits at each of that list of 1024 bit-offets into the file are? Fine, I can do that if you undertake in return to tell me what the bits at each of this list of 1024 offsets into one of my files is".

If you are actually wanting cheap storage you buy, then a bunch of corner-store / mom-and-pop / kid in basement operations are probably not a cost-effective solution. A Wal-Mart approach is more likely to be able to get prices down and keep them down.

If you actually want the small private operations setup for reasons other than actual cost, then buy as much storage as the total of local and offsite storage you want, then trade storage with others who do the same.

I know that arguing not to use bitcoin to account these swaps might seem to imply my response is not bitcoin-related, but bear in mind I am looking to do offsite backups of bitcoin-related things such as bitcoin exchange servers and such. The relatedness / relevance to bitcoin lies not in method of accounting for the swaps of backup-storage-space but, rather, in that it is bitcoin users looking to backup bitcoin-wallets and bitcoin-websites and bitcoin-exchange servers and such.

It seems overly complicated and off-purpose to go looking to sell people storage space on my site to raise funds with which I can then go looking for other sellers to buy storage from on their site. It is simply I want to put N copies of X gigabytes offsite and am prepared to store X * N gigabytes similarly for others.

Of all the software suites I have looked at so far for accomplishing this kind of thing, so far GNUnet is looking like most appropriate. Though I suppose in principle I could also throw backups onto Freenet too if I chose to, what the heck, who knows, I might be able to find them there later if it turns out GNUnet fails me somehow. Maybe use GNUnet and Tahoe-LAFS and, just to be nasty to Freenet folk, throw copies onto Freenet too?

See that last part though, ouch, heck, what stops anyone from just leeching off of Freenet? Hmmm.
 
It might well be that the seemingly high prices the original poster is trying to avoid are not so high really at all when you really look into the nitty gritty of providing such a service.

It might also be that prices are driven crazy-high by involving the ignorant masses while not charging by the hour for help desk or other support services, thus having to do handholding of millions of idiots who do not want to pay by the hour for handholding thus basically force you into charging everyone for some high average number of hours of handholding in order to cover the biggest idiots who require the most-inordinate amount of handholding.

Offering the service only to the qualified I.T. departments of businesses maybe the price per terrabyte-month + price per terrabyte-mile could be held down below what those trying to attract the ignorant as their desired customers are forced to charge?

-MarkM-

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June 09, 2012, 07:27:43 PM
 #20

I would like that distributed online storage would be implemented as an option to store the phucking blockchain that is already eating 3 GB per each client that I use, and take hours to update if I don't do it for some weeks.

For this we are not really talking about offsite storage so much as we are talking about download rates and volumes.

(One copy of the blockchain can be made available to multitudes, so its more about bandwidth of how many copies are wanted how fast and how simultaneously than how many WAL-BITS can fit in their bit-warehouses.)

-MarkM-

EDIT: A problem exists in the form the blockchain currenty takes normally in the reference client.

If it were a file that many can utilise at once, then one copy could exist on dropbox and everyone could share access to that copy, it could appear on their disk like a normal folder, automatically kept in synch by dropbox.

Unfortunately the reference client does not use a blockchain storage type that would work with such an approach.

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