Can cryptocurrency decentralize cloud storage for everyday consumers?

You might already know that you technically don’t own the money in your bank. But did you know that you don’t even own your cloud-stored data? Companies obtain your exact location, online brokerage information, credit card numbers, family photos, and more are actually owned by the company that stores it.

Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft collectively represent a $25.5 billion cloud storage market as of 2017, reports Forbes. In just the 5 years that follow, the same market is expected to have a CAGR of roughly 29.73% to reach $92 billion. That a lot of data. By 2025, the world is estimated to be creating 163 zettabytes every year (163 billion terabytes).

As more data is created, shipped and stored, someone will need to be in charge of it. Consumers should be particularly concerned about what company is in control of their data when it’s in storage. What if I told you that instead of paying Apple $9.99 every month for 2 terabytes of storage (that you’ll most likely only use a fraction of), you only had to pay $1/month per terabyte. On top of all this, you would also be the sole controller of your data as to who can access it by giving out a digital key.

How It Works

Nebulous, Inc’s wholly owned subsidiary, Sia, is built on a decentralized network and makes use of underutilized storage on personal computers’ hard drives, solid state drives, and more. The application divides user information into bits that are sent across hundreds of thousands of nodes to a multitude of different sources around the globe. The system uses redundancy to come to a consensus, in the same way, that any other blockchain platform would.

Once information is needed the user has a key that, when activated, calls together these millions of bits to appropriate the right file. Hosts offer their storage space in exchange for Sia – the cryptocurrency that powers the marketplace on the blockchain.

Is It Viable?

Sia’s coins can be mined and traded, although liquidity is scarce because Sia is only on one very minor exchange. Sia only has 822 storage providers across the globe with a capacity of 4.6 petabytes; equivalent to 4600 terabytes. Of that, only 174 terabytes of storage are being utilized on Sia’s network. But, the infancy of Sia and its proposed roadmap gives it some potential.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Sia when it becomes a competitor to Amazon in the early months of 2020. And, I’m excited to see if they’re a change in consumer behavior. Will consumers pay any attention to their data privacy? Will there be a demand for decentralized storage networks? In the wake of mass scandals like Yahoo, Equifax, and Facebook, I think there’s potential for protest on the horizon.

The ultimate question is this: which company will consume Nebulous? Apple, Amazon, Facebook? Cash is clearly not going to be a major concern at the time of purchase, so I guess I can only speculate for now.