InterPlanetary File System

IPFS logo

InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a content-addressable, peer-to-peer hypermedia distribution protocol. Nodes in the IPFS network form a distributed file system. IPFS is an open source project developed by Protocol Labs with help from the open source community.[1] It was initially designed by Juan Benet.[2] The goal of IPFS is to facilitate a permanent and decentralized method of storing and sharing files.[3]


IPFS is a peer-to-peer distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files. In some ways, IPFS is similar to the World Wide Web, but IPFS could be seen as a single BitTorrent swarm, exchanging objects within one Git repository. In other words, IPFS provides a high-throughput, content-addressed block storage model, with content-addressed hyperlinks. This forms a generalized Merkle directed acyclic graph (DAG). IPFS combines a distributed hash table, an incentivized block exchange, and a self-certifying namespace. IPFS has no single point of failure, and nodes do not need to trust each other.[4] Distributed Content Delivery saves bandwidth and prevents DDoS attacks which HTTP struggles with.

The filesystem can be accessed in a variety of ways, including via FUSE and over HTTP. A local file can be added to the IPFS filesystem, making it available to the world. Files are identified by their hashes, so it's caching-friendly. They are distributed using a BitTorrent-based protocol. Other users viewing the content aid in serving the content to others on the network. IPFS has a name service called IPNS, a global namespace based on PKI, serves to build trust chains, is compatible with other NSes and can map DNS, .onion, .bit, etc. to IPNS.[5]

The Wikipedia logo has an IPFS hash with the following code: QmRW3V9znzFW9M5FYbitSEvd5dQrPWGvPvgQD6LM22Tv8D. It can be accessed with that hash over HTTP by a public gateway or a local IPFS instance

Merkle data format

Every Merkle is a directed acyclic graph (DAG) because each node is named by a hash algorithm (a one-way function) which prevents cycles.

Each branch of Merkle is the hash of its local contents, naming children by their hash instead of their full contents.

In general for any Merkle, to create a new branch or verify an existing branch, a hash algorithm is used on some combination of the local contents, such as a list of child hashes and other bytes. A few different hash algorithms are available in IPFS.

The data input to any of those hash algorithms is described somewhere around

See also


  1. "The IPFS Project". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  2. "IPFS README - Who designed it?". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  3. Finley, Kurt (June 20, 2016). "The Inventors of the Internet Are Trying to Build a Truly Permanent Web". Wired.
  4. "The IPFS Project - How it works". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  5. "IPFS README". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
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