back to article Become a blockchain-secured space farmer with your hard drive

Startup Storj (pronounced storage oddly enough) has an open source, distributed cloud object storage platform using blockchain technology and end-to-end cryptography across a peer-to-peer network to secure files. The network consists of the internet and a shared community of “farmers”, users who rent out their spare desktop …

  1. Bob Vistakin
    Headmaster

    And in practice ... ?

    They are of course renting out their bandwidth too, but how good is the redundancy? I won't be too chuffed if I can't get at my accounts because little Johnny has turned off his PC for the night, or been capped because he's downloaded one too many GOT episodes that day.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: And in practice ... ?

      Depends on how it operates, but there have been systems like this for ages.

      There was a bit of open source that used all the spare blocks in your fs to share with the network and so long as 10% or so nodes with the data required were up, you had access.

      I don't think I ever saw it in production, and it hovered around the "not many users, 0.14 version numbers" for a while before it disappeared. But things like DRBD etc. are essentially the same thing.

      Encryption with private keys means you might be storing other's data but you have no access to it without their key. No different to Google storing a file on your behalf - they don't get into trouble, so long as they don't have the key

      1. Doctor_Wibble
        Unhappy

        Re: And in practice ... ?

        > No different to Google storing a file on your behalf - they don't get into trouble, so long as they don't have the key

        Actually the reason they don't get into trouble is they are a massive corporation, whereas an individual would have all their kit seized for however long it takes to establish that the proverbial $5 wrench doesn't apply, plus however long it takes to come back afterwards. As an added bonus you get a permanent 'arrested for dodgniess' mark on your record as well as your name all over the papers as a suspect of possessing such dubious material (etc).

        So in principle - yes, there is the 'no keys' deniability, but in practice - I'm not so sure, but on the bright side your life might get back on track at some point several years down the line...

    2. Hugh McIntyre

      Re: And in practice ... ?

      Re: "I won't be too chuffed if I can't get at my accounts because little Johnny has turned off his PC for the night, or been capped ..."

      Or lots of other reasons including "little Johnny decided to delete this big folder they didn't understand which is filling their disk, thereby deleting a 3rd party's data".

      It's one thing to have something like "CrashPlan backup to a friend" where you and the friend presumably have some agreement not to randomly nuke data. But it's hard to see how you'd put any valuable data on this system, unless it's only a controlled system within a company (or group of companies) controlled for safety with an IT department.

      Highly doubtful unless they are only targeting business users.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And in practice ... ?

      They are of course renting out their bandwidth too, but how good is the redundancy?

      I see this more as an Uber of data storage. They take the profit and you the capital outlay and piss poor return. 1.5c/GB is less than a hard drive costs (typically 3c/GB) and certainly places poor value on your limited monthly bandwidth (around 20c/GB in my case). In short this is the latest gig-economy of shit ideas for financially illiterate participants.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hear a vague bell ringing ...

    This is the sort of s̶c̶a̶m̶ scheme whereby the end users can make literally pennies, while the CEOs are helicoptered everywhere.

    Wasn't this tried before, somewhere ?

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: I hear a vague bell ringing ...

      2 things. Not so easy to find out how much you are actually paid from clicking around. They link you through to their code calculating their payment formula and crow on about 'transparency' yeah right. Second, you can't view their community forums without creating an account.

  3. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    Trollface

    Not quite buzzword complete

    You need to add "IoT", "disruptive" and "biomimetic" to that first paragraph.

    1. Dylan Byford

      Re: Not quite buzzword complete

      Don't forget Dev Ops!

  4. Jeroen Braamhaar
    Big Brother

    Um ....

    I also wonder about the liability issues:

    - Who is liable if data is lost/becomes unavailable

    - Who is liable if (some of) this data turns out to be involved in criminal activity

    - Who is liable if, god forbid, this turns into a data exfiltration method

    - What's going to happen if this gets involved in a nation state secrets or "terrorist activity", and what implications does that have for the unknowing users storing bits and pieces of data, both within and outside said nation state ?

    ...and that's just off the top of my head.

  5. Doctor_Wibble
    Paris Hilton

    Commercialised version of olde-worlde filesharing?

    Assumption as per usual being I actually understood, but this sounds like a commercialised version of any of an array of file-sharing software in common use as far back as the turn of the century (and earlier)...?

    And one presumes the contract includes a bit (as hinted above) that promises not to get capped or cut off and that the space and bandwidth are actually mine! On top of that, I would want to be absolutely sure I had total deniability and legal 'insulation' from whatever some random person decided to store on my PC.

    .

    P.S. Doesn't necessarily make it bad, just check the small print. And regularly, because nothing is fixed in print any more.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How long before the paedostyria starts ...

    because this seems an excellent way to distribute encrypted data without comeback ....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google invested

    so that when the company goes under - like they all have in this specific category - they can get the novel BlockChain tech. Could be a patent or two in it.

    As mentioned, this type of storage solution has far too many legal issues to make it viable. Would be a great set up for a hacker to cut their automated brute-force decryption chops on though. Let's play " Guess That Key".

  8. Mage Silver badge

    In theory vs practice

    In theory a nice idea.

    But can we do this reliably and securely?

    The data needs to be redundantly stored. I can't see how it can scale to any sensible number of users and providers without central servers at least doing indexing of some kind.

  9. grizewald
    FAIL

    You don't get paid in BTC!

    'Farmers' get paid in SJCX (Storjcoin X), not Bitcoins.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You don't get paid in BTC!

      Oh well, better than buttcoins I guess.

    2. Ben1892

      Re: You don't get paid in BTC!

      Having done the maths, looked at WD Red drive prices, etc. I came to this answer too, what can you buy with SJCX ? ... and you can guarantee they won't pay you enough of these magic beans to cover the electricity costs anyway.

      I do wonder where the $5.4m worth of startup funding has gone though, I thought this type of blag was long-extinct in silicon valley

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Payment, at $0.015/GB

    Hmm... if this is a rent over some time period T, then the payback on a spare 1G of drive I just bought at (eg) $40/GB takes 40/0.015, or about 2670 T. While I wasn't expecting it to be a money spinner, or even fall within shooting distance of breaking even, it does seem quite a long way from any kind of economic sense - why would anyone with a few spare GB even bother, for that pittance. Presumably T is weeks or months?

    1. Hugh McIntyre

      Re: Payment, at $0.015/GB

      The $0.015/GB is per month, but this is the price the person storing the data pays, and compares to the price to rent storage on S3 or Glacier, etc.

      As mentioned by Martin Summers above, the amount you get paid for sharing your disk space is based on some obscure scaled formula calculated at the end of each month. But obviously less than $0.015/GB/month, probably a lot less if they need 2x or 3x redundancy.

      Apart from the other concerns, you may need to balance any revenue with extra electricity costs if this makes your PC run in non-standby mode for longer.

      I also suspect that if this became a large business, some of the ISPs would start noticing customers making money off their bandwidth and might try to add T&C's restricting making money off consumer ISP connections or suggesting that some of this revenue should go to the ISP.

      Finally, although they compare their $0.015 to Amazon S3 at $0.023/GB, Amazon also has "S3 infrequent access" at $0.0125, i.e. cheaper than Storj and possibly more reliable because you're not relying on random people's PC's. So it's not clear they are going to win here...

    2. Drew Schatt

      Re: Payment, at $0.015/GB

      Currently, you can get a WD 1TB Blue at $49.99/USD. So the maths would actually be:

      $50 /(1000GB x 0.015 ($/GB)) = 3.33333333 months, currently. In addition, they claim to offer enhancements for sharing "telemetry", which I think they mean as information about the speed of the network.

      If the numbers are accurate, this might actually make some sense from a sharing point of view...

  11. Mage Silver badge
    Joke

    AirBnB

    Gig economy for your spare HDD space and Broadband capacity?

    Regular readers know what I think of the "gig economy". Summary: exploitation of ordinary people to make money for privileged folk.

  12. lansalot

    oops

    https://virustotal.com/en/file/035c780a1ece816e9adc4dee06f8484751346a7f70d9ae6d7f627cce27bdfb3f/analysis/

    I'd like to hope these are heuristically derived false-positives...

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