Blockchain technologies, as we know, have the principle of dispensing with trusted third parties. We will see here how to take advantage of it in order to have fully decentralized domain names and web content.
By nature, websites are always hosted on centralized servers. The same applies to the domain names used to access it. For this, hosts and registrars require a proper KYC, as well as a regular subscription to guarantee the availability of published web information. This can cause several problems:
- Exposure to possible failures of third parties;
- In case of non-payment of the subscription, domain names and hosted services are deleted. This induces a dependency to sustain access to sustainable information. In particular in the event of death in the case of natural persons;
- Domain names and web content may be subject to censorship.
If you want to be able to publish information on the internet in an unalterable way, without time limit, without KYC and resistant to censorship, then the use of decentralized hosting and domain name services is in order.
Decentralized file storage with IPFS
First step: have a distributed and resilient storage medium. IPFS (InterPlanetary File System) is a perfect candidate for this. This technology is intended to be an alternative to storage protocols such as HTTP and FTP, which are centralized and based on unique IP addresses.
IPFS is based on the principle of peer-to-peer. It uses a network of nodes to store and access files. Each of them can contain pieces of files and information about their location on other nodes. When a user wants to access a file, IPFS sends a request to a node. It acts as a directory to locate pieces of files on different nodes. The fragments are then recovered and assembled to reconstitute the original file. IPFS also uses a hash system to uniquely identify files. This allows reliable referencing even if the files are stored on different nodes or their location changes over time.
The Filecoin Alternative
Another possibility is to go through Filecoin. It is a decentralized file storage project that uses a specific blockchain related to IPFS technology. This is to create a marketplace for buying and selling file storage. Filecoin makes it possible to rent unused storage space to other users who have storage needs. Transactions are made using the Filecoin (FIL) cryptocurrency, which is used to pay providers for the use of their storage space.
Ethereum domain names
Once our document is stored in a decentralized way on IPFS, we must have an easy way to access it. Because IPFS hash identifiers are not particularly practical… Ideally, IPFS content should be associated with a domain name. The Ethereum (ETH) blockchain offers various solutions for this. Decentralized DNS uses smart contracts and ERC-721 tokens (non-fungible tokens) to manage domain registrations instead of going through a centralized registry. There is therefore no single point of failure, which makes them more resistant. In addition, it allows you to manage your own domains completely autonomously and anonymously.
In practice, the first possibility is to use ENS (Ethereum Name Services). It allows to create domain names that can be used to access mainly smart contracts or Ethereum addresses. It offers specific extensions such as “.eth”. ENS is mainly used by several decentralized projects to facilitate access to their dApps. However, the fact that you have to regularly renew your subscription reduces its interest.
A more interesting alternative would rather be the service Unstoppable Domains. Originally on Ethereum, the service later moved to the Polygon sidechain in order to benefit from lower gas fees. It is compatible with web browsers like Opera and Brave. This makes it possible to browse decentralized websites directly from the browser. The acquired domain names can also have other applications, according to the explanations given on the site:
- Simplify crypto transactions by replacing complicated wallet addresses with a domain name as a username;
- Use the domain to receive more than 275 cryptos on multiple blockchain networks;
- Log in to applications with the domain name as the Web3 Universal Username;
- Host personal websites or NFT galleries.
Various extensions are available (.crypto, .nft, .x, .wallet, .bitcoin, .dao, .888, .zil, .blockchain). They are payable in cryptocurrencies (Ethereum, DAI ERC-20, USDC ERC-20, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin) or in more traditional means of payment. Particularly interesting point: no renewal is necessary: the acquired domain name is indelibly recorded in the blockchain and remains available without time limit. To allow access to web content, all you have to do is point the domain name to the IPFS address of the desired document.
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