A Distinctive Guide on IPFS and Ethereum Swarm

A Distinctive Guide on IPFS and Ethereum Swarm


IPFS and Swarm are both decentralised peer-to-peer data storage platforms. The emerging protocols IPFS and Swarm have the possibility to change the future of internet storage. IPFS employs hypermedia, an advancement of the hypertext protocol. These protocols allow you to access data from many servers at the same time rather than one. Both protocols are similar in that their major goal is to replace the current data layer with a distributed storage layer. There is no risk of service downtime when using these. Most , both are capable of meeting the criteria of blockchain and other technologies. 

Both IPFS and Swarm have significant restrictions. Swarm has been focusing on Ethereum lately, but it can be used with a lot of different technologies. Before we go any further, let’s look at IPFS and Swarm and their differences.

IPFS – InterPlanetary File System

Juan Benet developed the Interplanetary File System (IPFS), which was published in 2014. It intends to replace HTTP with a protocol and a distributed file system. It’s a mix of technologies, and it’s quite low-level, meaning it leaves many projects or layers to put on top of it.

The goal of IPFS, a peer-to-peer distributed file system, is to link all computing devices with a single file system.

Today, if someone decides to delete a certain piece of information or website from the internet, they can do so without your intervention. But, with IPFS, it is challenging to delete data from the web because it is distributed among nodes, and each node has a copy of the data.

In contrast to HTTP, which uses an IP address, IPFS addresses the content. When you add a file to IPFS, it will be divided into smaller chunks, cryptographically encrypted, and given a unique fingerprint known as a content identifier (CID). Your file, as it was then, is preserved by this CID. This system doesn’t have a single point of failure. The IPFS consists of independent nodes alone. In IPFS, the nodes are not required to have mutual trust. There is no need to go to the central system and look for the receiver while sending a file. We can now transfer the file directly, and the receiver’s address can be located in the file content. This is known as a Content Delivery Network (CDN). IPFS can store everything, including blockchains, data from floppy disks, the full operating system, and static websites.

How Does IPFS Work?

IPFS can find what you’re looking for by using its content address rather than its location. This is known as content addressing, which is possible thanks to the content identifier (CID). To further understand how IPFS works, we must go into the core IPFS principles.

  1. Unique identification via content addressing:

The identification and retrieval of data/information on each are fundamental differences between the centralised and decentralised webs. A content identifier (CID) is a type of content addressing that was designed for IPFS. It is a single identity that includes a cryptographic hash as well as information about how to read data.

The content identification does not specify where the data is kept. But, it generates an address based on the underlying data content.

  1. Content linking via Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs):

Data is accessed through peers on a decentralised web rather than a central authority. A node is an object in a graph, while an edge is a relationship between things. DAG appears to be a compound word; thus, it seems reasonable to create the groundwork for what it signifies by breaking it down.

Directed Graphs: A graph is called “directed” if each of its edges points in a certain direction. To refer to nodes in a directed network, we use genealogical words such as ancestor, descendant, parent, and kid.

Acyclic Graphs: There are no loops in an acyclic network. This means that there is no way to traverse back to that node along the graph’s edges.

Directed Acyclic Graphs: A graph that is both directed and acyclic. 

  1. Content discovery via distributed hash tables (DHTs):

DHT is a distributed system that converts keys to values. The DHT is used as a vital component of the content routing system in IPFS and functions as a cross between a catalogue and a navigation system.

How Does IPFS Store Data?

IPFS saves files as IPFS Objects, each of which can hold 256 kb of data. It also allows you to link data. If the size exceeds 256 kb, the data is divided into little chunks. Then, IPFS creates another empty IPFS Object and connects all the chunks. Because each file object has a unique identifier in IPFS, it is not workable to add or remove content from the file. By changing this, it would change the file’s hash.

What Is Ethereum Swarm?

The concept of the world computer arose from Ethereum’s founding father’s vision for a new and improved Web. Its authors, Vitalik Buterin, Gavin Wood, and Jeffery Wilcke, envisioned a serverless Web free of huge businesses and capable of self-sufficiency using blockchain technology.

Swarm lead developer Viktor Tron told CoinDesk, “[BitTorrent] never really caught on to the point where they can serve real-time interactive web applications.”

The updates were presented at the Ethereum developer conference Devcon2, headlined “Swap, curse, and swindle. Incentivization of Swarms “Trón and Aron Fischer, the team’s leaders.

To expand on this goal, Ethereum’s creators proposed the example of a global computer. The comparison includes a “Holy Trinity,” in which Ethereum serves as the CPU and Whisper serves as the signalling and messaging system. Swarm, the third member of the “holy trinity,” would replace the world computer’s hard disk.

So, Exactly What Is The Ethereum Swarm?

Ethereum Swarm is a massive DHT (Distributed Hash Tables). Swarm employs the DHT in a unique manner because it keeps the data itself in the DHT. This is referred to as a solution by Swarm. The acronym DISC stands for Distributed Immutable Store For Chunks. When you put something in Swarm, it divides it into 4k bits. These chunks are addressable by the chunk hash and are stored on the nodes closest to the chunk address. Every piece is redundantly stored on the four closest nodes.

Swarm’s network structure is reliable and highly optimised for DHT. Swarm’s content retrieval is extremely efficient due to its optimised network structure. This is referred to as the Kademlia connection by Swarm.

How Is Data Stored In Ethereum Swarm?

On Swarm, data can be stored in two ways. The first of these is global pinning. In this situation, you keep your data on your hard drive, and the DHT contains a reference to it. It is like the data storage mechanism employed by IPFS. It is free since you keep your own data, but it is not anonymous, and you must deal with redundancy. 

Another option for storage is to use a postal stamp. A postage stamp is like a check that storage nodes can use to withdraw BZZ if they can prove that they are storing your stuff. In such a case, the content is saved in the correct location in the DHT. The source of data is untraceable, and the Swarm network provides redundant storage.  

Ethereum Swarm’s Features

Swarm is an Ethereum and DApp content distribution service. Swarm has the following features: 

  • It is a decentralised storage platform and the Ethereum web 3 stack’s native base layer service.
  • As an alternative to an Ethereum on-chain storage solution, it aspires to be a decentralised store of Ethereum’s public record.
  • It enables DApps to store and share code, data, and content without clogging the blockchain.

Difference Between IPFS and Ethereum Swarm

Data storage on the blockchain is costly. So if you need to keep a large amount of data on it in the “blockchain style,” you must use an external storage solution. The most prevalent option is to use IPFS, but there are some alternatives on the market. The Ethereum Swarm is one of them.

In this article, I will discuss the differences between IPFS and Swarm. This will assist you in selecting the best storage solution for your next project.   

Step By Step Comparison

Both systems offer a distributed, immutable, and content-addressable framework, as well as their own incentive system and coin. They are also both based on libp2p. Here is a step-by-step comparison of the two systems:

Storage Logic

IPFS is a storage provider community in which nodes publish stuff that is referenced by its content hash. A DHT stores the list of storage nodes for a hash. If you want to retrieve material, you must first locate the peer list in the DHT using the content hash. The peer id must be converted to an IP address in the second step, and the content from the specified peer at the IP address can be downloaded in the third step.

Because it keeps the material itself in the DHT, Ethereum Swarm has a distinct logic. This system is known as DISC (Distributed Immutable Store for Chunks). Furthermore, the entire system is geared to make this DHT efficient. When a node needs to retrieve a chunk, it consults with its peers. If a peer possesses the content, it returns it; if not, it asks for its peers, and so on. 

Mutable Content

You can utilise the Interplanetary Name System to store mutable content on IPFS (IPNS). On IPNS, the address of mutable content is a public key, and the address of underlying immutable content is signed by its private key component. If the content changes, the content owner signs and publishes the new content hash for the public key. So, retrievers can re-assign the content from it. 

There are two kinds of chunks on Ethereum Swarm. The first is the “usual” content addressed chunk, and the second is the single owner chunk. The single-owner chunk’s address is a hash of the owner and a unique ID. When the content changes, you just raise the serial number and upload a new piece. The retrievers can poll the system, and if a new chunk with a higher serial number becomes available, they can refresh the material from it. These serial-numbered structure feeds are referred to as Swarm feeds.

Incentive System

You have several options for storing stuff on the IPFS. To make your content available on IPFS, you can use a centralised provider like Infura or Pinata, upload it, and pay the storage cost. Another option is to use FileCoin, which is the “Official” IPFS blockchain. FileCoin is essentially a storage provider marketplace where you can form contracts to store your content. You must pay a fee if you retrieve the content and a data transfer threshold is surpassed.

Instead of a blockchain, Ethereum Swarm uses its own payment mechanism. It is similar but not identical to payment channels such as the Lightning Network. When one node pays another, it sends a cheque. These cheques are signed documents that can be used to take money out of the node’s chequebook contract. They are like real-world cheques.

You must pay the peer who offers you the content if you wish to retrieve it. If it has the content, it can keep the entire price; otherwise, it must compensate its peer who provides it. This logic incentivizes nodes to cache popular material locally, allowing Swarm to function as an adaptive CDN.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Both are decentralised, there is no need for a centralised monitoring system, making the system more effective and speedy.
  • These systems are capable of managing enormous datasets, while traditional techniques cannot.
  • These protocols offer low-cost services with no single point of failure, making your system more safe than ever.
  • Both technologies are in the early stages of development and have the potential to alter network design in the future.


  • These technologies rely on cryptography, which requires mining and consumes a lot of electricity.
  • Because public-private cryptography techniques must be applied, our system becomes more sophisticated.
  • Both are in the early stages of development, so there is a lack of reliability and scalability.

Final Verdict

As you can see, both storage systems have advantages and disadvantages. Both are unquestionably the future of the internet storage system. IPFS and Ethereum Swarm are both exciting initiatives. If the developers are successful with their development plans and get a lot of people to use them, the Internet will change in big ways. So that’s it from my end. Please subscribe to our newsletter for the most recent updates and info!

Stay tuned for more exciting posts!!

Continue reading!!

What do you think?

Written by Anjali Rajput

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Know about ChatGPT in Five Different Levels

Know about ChatGPT in Five Different Levels

ChatGPT The Next Big Challenger To Google's Search Market

Is ChatGPT The Next Big Challenger To Google’s Search Market?