The introduction of decentralized systems such as Bitcoin’s blockchain and the increased utilization of cloud computing were among the biggest revolutions in the area of Internet technology since the introduction of Internet itself. Sia, a decentralized cooperative file storage network platform, tries to combine those two and come out as a strong concurrent to Amazon, Google and Microsoft, who have been dominating the cloud storage scene so far.
The way Sia approaches this is by creating a network of people who have extra room on their hard drives and are willing to share it. Those people are called hosts, while the people that pay to use this decentralized cloud storage are called renters. A host can set up a wallet and dedicate a certain amount of storage room from his/her hard drive. The host is required to be connected to the internet at least 95% of the time, and to be available as a host for at least 12 weeks. This is to ensure the stability of the entire system.
A renter can decide to store some data on the Sia cloud. All of the data the renter wants to store is then broken up into little bits of information that are sent and scattered on host’s hard drives all over the world. The renter is given a unique passcode that he/she can use in order to download that data again. By using this system, your data won’t be kept by a single organization or person that would be prone to hacker attacks, but instead will be scattered around a large number of hard drives. This means that, if a hacker wanted to steal the data and hacked one of the host’s computers, he would only end up with a useless bunch of bits from several hundred renters that were stored on that hard drive. This mechanism practically prevents any hacker attacks and similar issues that other famous cloud storage companies have had in the past.
Another great aspect of Sia is that its costs are much lower than that of Amazon, Google and Microsoft. This is because those three companies have held monopoly over the data storage market, allowing them to raise the prices for their services to insane amounts. In comparison, storing one TB of data on Sia will cost you around $10, with a $5 cost for the download bandwidth, whereas it would cost you some $120 on Microsoft Azure, with a $435 fee for the download bandwidth!
The reason for this is the usage of a decentralized system described above. This system uses Siacoin as its currency. Siacoin is another cryptocurrency, similar to Bitcoin or Litecoin, and, on the current market is worth some $0.1. All the trades on Sia are made in Siacoin, the hosts set up a wallet and get paid for providing storage in Siacoin. Siacoin can be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies, making Sia a network that can be profitable for both hosts and renters, providing strong competition in the coming years to Google, Amazon and Microsoft.