Filecoin Is Mailing Out Hard Drives of Climate Data to Kick-Start Its File-Storage Network

Get a giant hard drive from the Filecoin team stuffed with data on climate, the world's literature or the human genome and get ready to earn some crypto.

AccessTimeIconMay 7, 2020 at 8:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:38 a.m. UTC
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Get a giant hard drive from the Filecoin team stuffed with data on climate, the world's literature or the human genome and get ready to earn some crypto.

"I think people don't fully appreciate the enormous logistics involved with moving data at a massive scale," Ian Darrow, head of operations at Filecoin, told CoinDesk in an interview. 

The Filecoin Foundation is inviting anyone to join its "mission to improve the internet," Darrow said in a press statement. The new program is called Filecoin Discover, and it is seeding the file storage network early with what Filecoin calls "verified datasets." 

This data will be delivered to future miners physically, on eight-terabyte hard drives, with instructions on how to link the devices to the Filecoin system, which should go live this year. (In a post last month on the project’s cryptoeconomics, Filecoin explained why the physical delivery of data was more efficient.)

Filecoin was one of the biggest initial coin offerings (ICOs) of 2017, raising approximately $257 million as one of several projects out of Protocol Labs.

Getting in early

Each hard drive will cost $265 but presumably future Filecoin miners expect storing that much data will ultimately be worth the upfront cost in fiat.

There may be some advantage to being early on Filecoin, according to the recent cryptoeconomics post, but when the network is small, some block rewards will also be deferred, in order to align miner incentives with user needs. 

The datasets available through Discover are in the public interest, offered by the Filecoin Foundation as a way of advancing its mission to make humanity's data robust and accessible. The company hopes the nature of the data and the support that comes with it will help attract new, smaller users to the network. 

That said, future miners will need to understand that mining for Filecoin is different than other kinds of mining. It's not just putting in work but being continuously accessible. 

"As a Filecoin miner, you are storing specific pieces of real data for real people, so you do want that data to be reliably available," Darrow said. 

At 8 terabyte, Darrow noted, this is feasible for someone to set up in their home. While it is a technical process, it comes with instructions and the team is optimistic that by following them users will be ready to run their first hard drive and become interested in expanding their participation. Having lots of smaller users helps make the network more decentralized. 

"This serves as an entry point to get people more involved," Darrow said of the new program.

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