Storage nodes are the principal part of the Storj decentralized cloud storage network.
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What Is a Storage Node (Storj)?
Storj is a decentralized cloud storage that provides remote digital data storage and distribution services, similar to Google Drive or Dropbox, but without a central authority in charge of setting up and maintaining the necessary hardware inside data centers. Instead, its operation is maintained by a decentralized network of storage nodes, similar to the way the Bitcoin (BTC) network’s ability to process transactions is ensured by its own nodes.
Cloud storage services allow users who do not have enough hard drive space for things like text files, images or videos on their own computers or smartphones to rent out storage space remotely.
Usually, these services require a fee that ends up being more economical and convenient for the end user than the alternative: outright purchasing more and/or larger physical hard drives for their systems. Another advantage is being able to upload and download your files from any platform anywhere in the world.
In this scenario, cloud storage providers make a profit via economies of scale. They set up large space- and energy-efficient data centers that allow for the storage of petabytes of user data at a very low cost per byte.
Storj (and other decentralized cloud storage networks like IPFS and Siacoin), on the other hand, adopted an entirely different approach. Instead of employing a small number of large dedicated data centers, its network is comprised of numerous independent nodes of smaller size. Any computer with a certain amount of free disk space and access to the internet is allowed to join the network and become a storage node in a permissionless manner.
When another user wants to store a piece of data on Storj, the network’s protocol breaks their file into so-called “file shards,” encrypts them, and distributes them among the disk space of several storage nodes, using multiple redundant copies of each shard for increased safety. When the data needs to be accessed again, the shards are retrieved from their respective storage nodes and reassembled into the original file.
The storage nodes can range from a single personal computer whose owner simply wants to utilize their idling disk space to dedicated setups with multiple hard drives optimized for profit – every node is rewarded with Storj (STORJ) according to the amount and quality of storage space they provide. This activity is known as storage mining.