Let's just start with a one-line definition of IPFS:
IPFS is a distributed system for storing and accessing files, websites, applications, and data.
There are alternative ways to access information online beyond the traditional client-server model. For instance, let's say you're researching aardvarks, fascinating creatures that can tunnel 3 feet in just 5 minutes! You may start by visiting the Wikipedia page on aardvarks, which can be found at:
When you type that URL in your browser's address bar, your computer sends a request to one of Wikipedia's servers, which may be located far away from your device, for the aardvark page.
However, there's another option to satisfy your aardvark-related needs: a mirror of Wikipedia is stored on IPFS. If you use IPFS to access the page, your computer requests the aardvark page differently:
The simplest method to access the link mentioned above is to open it in your browser using an IPFS Gateway. Just prefix
https://ipfs.gateway.name (which is a hosted IPFS gateway maintained by The Media Foundation and provided via Media Network) to the beginning of the given link, and you will be able to view the page →
The IPFS protocol allows users to retrieve content by its contents rather than location. In the IPFS-ified version of the aardvark information, the string of numbers in the middle of the URL (QmXo…) represents the unique content identifier. Instead of asking a single server for the page, IPFS allows a user's computer to request content from multiple computers around the world that have the same information. This decentralized approach means the user can obtain the aardvark info from anyone who has it, not just from Wikipedia's servers.
Furthermore, when a user downloads a file through IPFS, their computer can also act as a distributor, helping to distribute that content to others who request it. This creates a peer-to-peer network, where any user can contribute to distributing the content they download. This applies not only to web pages but also to any type of file, including documents, emails, and even database records.
Media Network + IPFS
IPFS seamlessly integrates with Media Network. While IPFS is an excellent protocol for indexing and hosting decentralized content, such as NFTs, live videos, or plain websites, it lacks a crucial component: a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for serving these files to end-users via a regular web browser. This tutorial explains how to integrate IPFS and Media Network step by step, starting with the installation and configuration of IPFS, and then adding it as a resource to the CDN.