There are so many consensus mechanisms enabled on the blockchain. This guide is based on the one called Proof of Replication (PoRep). It will explain the nitty-gritty of this mechanism, covering its definition, developments, features, uses, benefits, and more.
The blockchain has consistently upped its banners as a trustless and decentralized financial solution. Several upgrades and innovative tools have been added to the blockchain to assist it in keeping its vow to be decentralized. Blockchain, as a public network, functions based on the interactions among developers, node operators, miners, and investors. There is a need to have implemented agreements that maintain mutual trust between these participants. This agreement is often referred to as a consensus mechanism. It allows a group of independent nodes to stay up-to-date and validate changes in a decentralized network. It gives node operators the power to decide on the next changes to be implemented on the network. Generally, all participants in the blockchain keep a record of the network transactions that keep them connected and synchronized.
There are so many consensus mechanisms enabled on the blockchain. Some examples of consensus mechanisms include proof-of-work (PoW), proof-of-stake (PoS), delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS), and proof-of-importance (PoI). Other mechanisms include proof-of-capacity (PoC), and proof-of-space (PoS), among many others. This guide is based on one of these consensus mechanisms called Proof of Replication (PoRep). It will explain the nitty-gritty of this mechanism, covering its definition, developments, features, uses, benefits, and more.
Proof of Replication Defined
Proof of Replication (PoRep) is a consensus mechanism that proves to blockchain networks that a miner can keep and present a replica of data on a dedicated storage space. This combines two other mechanisms, proof-of-reliability (PoR) and proof-of-space (PoS). Proof-of-reliability (PoR) allows users to store data on a server, check if it is stored and ultimately allow for data retrieval. On the other hand, proof-of-space (PoS), which is a type of proof-of-capacity (PoC), enables a user to outsource storage space to a network server.
Many proof-of-space (PoS) allow users to demonstrate the availability of space for junk files. In contrast to PoS, Proof of Replication (PoRep) allows the user to store meaningful information in such spaces. It also allows stored data to be retrieved efficiently. Literally, Proof of Replication (PoRep) embeds proof-of-reliability (PoR) into proof-of-space (PoS). The combined mechanism is highly beneficial in cloud computing and decentralized storage networks.
Proof of Replication Technically Explained
Storage of pieces of junk information in the proof-of-space (PoS) consensus mechanism uses only half of the available space to store data. However, proof of replication (PoRep) uses available space to store useful information. Invariably, the cost of running a proof of replication (PoRep) is costlier compared to the proof-of-space (PoS). This is because PoRep needs to keep useful information alongside junk information and also retrieve these files.
Technically, a user needs a total of 2N space to run the proof of replication (PoRep) protocol. The user uses half of 2N to run a standard PoS protocol which fills the space with random data. The other half is then used to store meaningful information of size N and also produces PoRs of these files. Proof of replication (PoRep) requires the user to create k redundant copies of these stored files. The user will need kN space to store k copies of the file and another kN space to store randomly. To pass this protocol (k+1)N space is needed to store random data and a single copy of a file.
PoRep has properties that are similar to other pricing schemes. The PoRep is non-outsourceable, publicly verifiable, transparent, and dynamic. It is time-bounded and also supports retrievability. PoRep permits any party to gain access to public data through a verifying key, but there is no access to private or secretly generated information. This mechanism does not require a special procedure to access data, providing optimum transparency. The dynamic feature of the PoRep permits users to extract or update the stored information without restarting the protocol. To prevent cases of imposters, miners must show complete PoRep within a specified time frame. The PoRep was also designed in order to prevent a miner from outsourcing its functions to other miners. A miner cannot claim ownership of other miners’ work because the identity of a prover is verified through proof verification.
The PoRep mechanism has one primary function, which functions effectively in cloud storage and decentralized storage networks. Proof of replication (PoRep) ensures that stored data files have a replica that is independent of the original file. PoRep was developed and used by Protocol Labs, the developing team behind Filecoin. The Filecoin PoRep was designed to serve as a proof of resource instead of proof of work (PoW). It is financially beneficial to the miners as they earn rewards for renting out their idle storage space.
Proof of Replication vs Proof-of-Work
Proof-of-work (PoW) has been the most popular consensus mechanism in the blockchain space. It was popularized by the debut of the Bitcoin (BTC) network in 2009. In this mechanism, a miner (prover) must prove to the verifiers that some computational effort (work) has been carried out. On the contrary, PoRep allows miners to prove that there is space for data to be kept and retrieved on their hardware. A typical example of PoRep is Filecoin (FIL). Filecoin allows users to rent out extra storage space in reward for FIL tokens.
Both consensus mechanisms do not allow for impersonators and exploiters. The PoW is focused on financial decentralization, while PoRep centers on cloud storage computing. No one can tamper with validated transactions and stored data on the PoW and PoRep, respectively. These mechanisms are immunized against organized hacks, data theft, Sybil attacks, etc. PoW prevents doubling spending, while PoRep functions against deduplication.
Benefits of PoRep
There are many advantages attached to proof of replication (PoRep). Let us have a look at a few of them.
Firstly, PoRep creates a channel for a user to hire a server to keep duplicate copies of data. Secondly, PoRep simultaneously prevents these users from storing the same type of file on several servers. It allows users and servers to form a unified Decentralized Storage Network where all files are kept. And unlike many other centralized cloud storage, PoRep prevents users from Sybil attacks, outsourcing attacks, and generation attacks.
It is a delight to examine another offspring of blockchain technology. The exploration and utilization of blockchain are widening every day. The interaction of blockchain and cloud computing will help curb the rising hacks executed against centralized data storage banks. It will increase the adoption of the decentralized space among traditional tech enthusiasts and firms.
Filecoin, a popular use case of PoRep, serves as a decentralized earning opportunity for participants. This mechanism joins the league of other blockchain-earning methods like DeFi, P2E, etc. Most importantly, regulatory measures must be implemented to control the storage tariffs of miners, thereby maximizing its advantage over centralized cloud storage firms.