Memo vs Arweave: Decentralized Storage Competitor Analysis

Memo vs Arweave: Decentralized Storage Competitor Analysis

Blockchain technology has gradually become more sophisticated. This emerging trend enables us to construe the way we land our conception of the metaverse in reality. Increasingly, with more and more industrial players starting to care and join in, we are witnessing a huge space for our imagination to roam in the metaverse merging with all fabrics of our society. However, we are still navigating our way and working things out in more detail. Slowly but surely, the development and application of the metaverse will generate massive data and strain our capacity to manage and process complex data in the real world.

With blockchain technology, a decentralized storage system will become the key infrastructure to support the development of the metaverse. It utilizes distributed storage to handle data so that all data will be kept and managed at a single node. This approach can mitigate the risks associated with centralized storage, such as data loss, data tampering or data breach. It can also break the bottleneck brought by low scalability.

This article intends to compare and analyze two major players specialized in decentralized storage: Memo and Arweave.

Storage Philosophy

Memo aspires to build a Web 3.0 infrastructure based on edge storage devices empowered by the blockchain technology MEFS(MEmo File System). It organizes and harnesses available data storage worldwide to co-create a decentralized data storage layer featuring safety, security and high availability as robust support to preserve and sustain our human civilizations.

Arweave’s priority is to resolve all sorts of existing web data and information loss. It creates a file agreement featuring one-off pay for permanent storage. The vision is to rejuvenate the Alexander Library.

Arweave purposes unprecedented permanent storage based on Moore’s Law — the storage cost will be lower in the future. However, Moore’s Law may not continue to apply, as the size of transistors is shrinking and the manufacturing technology is reaching its limit.

To be specific, in the previous decades of development, the size of transistors has continuously shrunk, allowing more energy efficiency and lower cost for technological improvements. Moore’s Law still applies at this stage. However, the size of transistors has reached 10 nanometers or even smaller, a size so small that the current transmitted through cannot always contain it. In this situation, heat generated will accelerate the transistor’s aging, resulting in possible leakage. Meanwhile, the leakage of heat is not limited to one single transistor. Billions of transistors will severely threaten the integrity of the entire chip, thus limiting the chip’s processing capacity. In this context, the cost of further research and development (R&D) will soar, plus the cost of cooling in large server rooms. Costs on both ends of supply and demand will increase. It’s improbable to see a massive cut in the application cost driven by low R&D inputs, which opposes the core values of Moore’s Law.

Arweave is a novice attempt to build a “one-off pay, storage for life” business model based on Moore’s Law. However, uncertainties exist on many levels.

Memo utilizes available resources to provide low-cost storage services and uses blockchain technology to create a high-quality service for the shared storage ecosystem, starting from the sharing economy and the high compatibility of decentralized distributive storage. It relies on low margin cost to construct a sustainable model for decentralized storage.

“ Pay once, store forever “ is a novel business model. Airbnb, Uber, and other unicorn companies have verified the efficacy and feasibility of the sharing economy in other areas. Memo capitalizes on the smart contract to solve the pain points of unverifiable QoS problems in the sharing economy model. Using technology as a credit intermediary, Memo ensures the best user experience for storage.

Market Value

Traditional cloud storage finds it harder to adapt to the decentralized encryption culture and the exponential growth of data worldwide. Decentralized storage can better work with the storage methods in the era of Web 3.0 with a promising market prospect. According to the latest data of IDC, the expenditure on cloud infrastructure in Q2 2021 reached 11.9 billion USD, increasing 12% to 74.3 billion in the year 2021 as estimated. Now the Internet is entering a transitory phase from Web2.0 to Web3.0. With the increasing sophistication of blockchain technology and the rapid development of the metaverse, NFT, Defi, GameFi and SocialFi, decentralized storage will become the cornerstone of the cloud infrastructure, shifting away from merely a supplement to a centralized storage method.

Based on the high attribution rate, Arweave launched a blockchain-like data storage protocol. The protocol aims to address all sorts of data loss issues, such as suspended operations by service providers and government censorship on data monopolies by technology giants. Under this protocol, a permanent data storage solution based on an encryption-incentivized mechanism will encourage developers to build a permanent application ecosystem.

However, not all factors causing data loss can be addressed by Arweave’s protocol. According to Statista, the total amount of global data in 2020 was 64.2ZB. However, due to high storage costs, only 2% of the data have been stored until 2021. It is predicted that the total amount of global data will reach more than 180ZB by 2025, calling for a continued increase in the storage infrastructure capacity to meet the strong growth of data. In the future, most data will be hosted on a low-cost and highly scalable storage ecosystem.

Memo’s MEFS file storage system provides a high-scalability and low-cost decentralized storage method for the ZB-level data storage market. Upholding the sharing economy, MEFS utilizes blockchain technology as a credit intermediary, develops global edge storage spaces and reduces storage cost by integrating available resources to guarantee the high scalability and sustainability of the system with meager marginal costs.

The Degree of Decentralization

Many factors affect the degree of decentralization of a system, including the difficulty of participation, the degree of physical dispersion, the review mechanism, and the proof of work. At first, proof-of-work (PoW) was widely adopted. The PoW ensured the degree of decentralization to the greatest extent. However, its subsequent massive waste of resources has been vastly criticized. For most blockchain decentralized systems, the key to balancing decentralization and resource usage while providing the most significant possibility of participation.

Arweave uses social ratings to gauge the participation of nodes. Competing with other candidate nodes requires higher bandwidth to receive block and transaction information, larger storage capacity to store historical blocks, and computing power to maintain the high social level and acquire the right to produce blocks. Nodes with a low social level are at risk of being ultimately rejected by the network. At the same time, the data stored in the node must conform to the content strategy of most nodes. Otherwise, candidate blocks may not be accepted by other nodes. Arweave has 151 nodes, and nearly half of the nodes are from the United States. More than three years since the launch of the leading network, only 22T of data have been stored on the entire network.

Memo has created three roles (namely user, keeper, provider) in a complete autonomous system for the decentralized community. The interaction between these system roles is completed through smart contracts. With wide-ranging storage nodes worldwide, Memo now has 100PB storage space on the entire network. Applying the design philosophy of global edge storage devices, Memo features low node thresholds, allows for operations on home computers. Another feature is that Memo only provides storage space for real needs, without competing for massive computing power to produce blocks. After joining in, the keeper constantly challenge and rate the storage nodes and match the user with the best provider in real time. The data storage layer of Memo File System (MEFS) is de-coupled. The on-chain information output block and competition will not affect the degree and function of decentralization on the storage layer. The mapping of role interactions will be stored in related devices on valid data to avoid wasting resources on meaningless competition for computing power.

Data Reliability

Centralized cloud storage entails significant problems, including the lack of transparency and user data control. Users do not know the exact storage location of their data. They have no idea about when and how their data are being processed. Let alone whether their data were lost or damaged. Blockchain technology maximizes the transparency of stored data. However, questions remain unanswered: data security free from any breaches or damages; the tolerance level of failures; timely repair when necessary.

The Blockweave empowered by Arweave is not a single-chain list in the strict sense. It is more of a complex graph structure. A block’s memory needs to be stored in nodes to mine or verify a new block. The recall block depends on the hash and height of the previous block, which determines its unpredictability. Instead of providing a fixed amount of redundant copies, Arweave uses the Proof of Access (PoA) to maximize copies in the network. This approach can allow nodes to store low-redundancy data to solve PoW puzzles with low competition intensity. This varying multi-copy redundancy strategy is highly uncertain. It cannot distinguish the level of significance for the redundant data. To some extent, this approach can result in resource waste and low-efficient premiums.

The MEFS system empowered by Memo keeps the single-chain structure of the traditional blockchain and backs up the most critical and stable information at full nodes. MEFS is compatible with any mainstream public chain. It uses anti-collision hashing and digital signature technology to identify damaged data. It also verifies the authenticity of the hash value by use of public key holders or data owners. The hash value can verify data integrity. It provides users with two fault-tolerant technologies, multiple copies and erasure codes, so that users can fit redundancy methods to different types of data in a more flexible manner. For example, more frequently accessed data can choose multiple copies for fault tolerance to improve access performance. Not frequently accessed data can use erasure codes for fault tolerance to minimize storage costs with high reliability.

On data repair, Arweave uses copies to repair. The cost of storage is relatively high, and the number of copies is uncertain. Certain risks exist. Memo utilizes the original data risk sensing repair method RAFI to improve the data reliability on the edge storage device. It can quickly identify at-risk data and effectively save the total data repair time. Moreover, the RAFI technology data reliability correlates with fault tolerance. This technology ensures higher reliability for essential user data.

Privacy Protection

The issue of trust between users and centralized storage service providers has a long history. One reason is that the user generally does not habitually sign a formal contract. When any data breaches occur, the user cannot protect legitimate rights and interests by making their claims in court. Another reason is that users do not trust their data with big technology companies for their damaged reputation on data breaches in recent years. The blockchain-enabled decentralized storage system features tamper-free and transparency that can protect user privacy and other rights.

The data stored on the Arweave network is open and transparent without any access control mechanism. Anyone can view any data on the web through the Arweave gateway without any nodes, which means that data are publicly available. In that sense, Arweave is only suitable for non-encrypted public information, not for personal information. Blockchain addresses are entirely anonymous. However, Big Data Analysis enables people to identify an actual user quickly. This primary concern makes Arweave users only store publicly available data. That explains why Arweave only had 22T data in the entire network since its launch three years ago.

Memo can be widely applied to various scenarios. It is more inclusive and suitable for all kinds of data. Using encryption technology and decentralized methods, Memo enables absolute user privacy. The files stored in the MEFS system are encrypted at the source client, segmented using a combination of multiple copies and erasure redundancy codes, and finally stored in the nodes of the entire network. In other words, the data in the storage node is not complete but encrypted using asymmetric encryption technology. Only the user who holds the private key can decrypt data. Moreover, Memo also adopts an access control mechanism. Users, keepers or providers can only access data stored in edge devices. The keeper can only repair and write data, whereas the provider can only read or write the data with the authorization of the user or the keeper. At the same time, in the data storage status verification process, Memo uses zero-knowledge proof, homomorphic encryption, secure multi-party computing and other privacy computing technologies. This approach can maximize user privacy protection supported by any third-party verification.

Storage Method

Storage capacity is one of the biggest challenges facing blockchain technology. On-chain transactions can only carry a small transaction volume, which means that its TPS is very limited. With the continuous growth of blockchain users, low communication efficiency can no longer respond to huge transaction needs and diverse and complex application features. The major issue for the current blockchain technology is how to expand the blockchain capacity without compromising its decentralization feature.

The concept introduced by Arweave allows nodes to perform essential network functions without storing the entire chain. Reducing the storage volume of each node can reduce the amount of data stored on the whole chain. This approach intends to expand storage capacity by increasing the size of the block. The disadvantage of this approach is its implications on the decentralization feature.

Memo’s innovation lies in its data layering technology to store most data off-chain and map role relationships in settlement and log system on-chain. This approach leverages the synergy of decentralized blockchain technology and its credit intermediary feature. It also solves on-chain storage and energy-consuming mining problems.

Application Scenario

Blockchain technology is still in the viral growth stage. Various public chains, side chains, and applications are emerging. However, the information isolation in the Web2.0 era has not been well resolved. A third-party platform often enables the interaction between the various ecosystems. This method is still flawed with centralization and systemic risks. Web3.0 and metaverse envision a new generation of Internet: data connectivity, ecosystem sharing, and harmonious autonomy. As the underlying technical support, data storage requires more visionary design concepts to cope with the evolving blockchain technology infrastructure that supports many application scenarios.

The Permaweb application developed by Arweave through Blockweave is compatible with Web2.0. It solves many long data storage period problems, including open HTTP API. Arweave covers storage demands during the transition from Web2.0 to Web3.0. However, with limited application scenarios, users cannot freely choose the storage plan. For shorter-term data storage, users must pay a premium for permanent storage. On cross-chain operations, users can only call stored data via URL. Arweave solutions can be a regression compared with decentralized storage, considering the strong dependence on the gateway and corresponding servers.

Also, Blockweave improves system performance at the cost of retrievable file versions. Each node does not store data on the entire chain, which means that files cannot be modified and updated. Arweave’s permanent storage mechanism has its advantages and disadvantages. While pushing its boundaries, it also compromises many application potentials. For example, you cannot change uploaded codes while using Arweave in software development. Undoubtedly, this will increase the cost of development and workload.

As the infrastructure of Web3.0, Memo can expand storage capacity on multiple blockchains and enable connectivity between different ecosystem chains by deploying smart contracts on the chain. Its file system MEFS uses a hierarchical smart data design to store only the most critical data on the system chain, including account and smart contract information. In contrast, location information and user data are stored more cost-effectively on edge storage devices.

MEFS uses reliability proofs and time-consuming proofs to improve the system credibility. It also uses random beacons and the BFT protocol to verify proofs and avoid manipulation and single-point failure. The consensus mechanism is completed off-chain to avoid logistic issues on the transactions, other than blockchain storage. This approach not only ensures data security and reliability but also preserves a certain degree of flexibility. Users can freely choose the storage period to meet varying needs. They can also change or form data traces or delete data that is only exclusive to users.