# Usage ideas and examples
IPFS is a versatile technology and can be used in a huge array of use-cases. Below is a long, yet far from exhaustive, list of projects built on IPFS. Some are minimalistic prototypes, and others are complete projects backed by mature companies.
# Share files
One of the simplest use-cases to grasp is the sharing of files between peers.
# Desktop applications
IPFS Desktop (opens new window) is the official desktop client for IPFS. It comes with a built-in IPFS node that lets you pin files and gives you a link to share them. This is generally seen as the easiest point-of-entry into the IPFS ecosystem.
Arbore (opens new window) Arbore is a free and open-source file-sharing application that enables you to send your pictures, documents, files to your contacts privately and without limits.
Another alternative is Orion (opens new window). Orion is an easy to use IPFS Desktop client. It helps to share content on the public peer to peer network without any command line or technical knowledge. The app includes everything needed to start your own personal IPFS node.
# Share your files or sell copies of it
Enzypt.io (opens new window) lets you sell files or simply get a link to share.
FileNation (opens new window) is an alternative if you only want to share.
# Dead drop
A dead drop (opens new window) is a drive or another storage device that is physically immobilized in a public location for people to pick-up and deposit files. There is now an IPFS version, thanks to the IPFS Dead Drop project (opens new window).
Let IPFS coordinate the flow of data between you and your colleagues, even when working offline or on a local network.
# Collaborate on written documents
PeerPad.org (opens new window) is a service that allows you to write, collaborate, and export Markdown documents directly in your browser, similar to how Google Docs works.
# Version control
The Inter-Planetary Version Control system (IPVC) (opens new window) is a distributed version control system similar to git (opens new window) but built on IPFS. It is suitable for any kind of data, not only human-readable content. It is also particularly suitable for versioning large files. The underlying concepts are heavily influenced by git (opens new window) and gitless (opens new window).
# Connect event attendants
Gthr.io (opens new window) was a simple demo app to connect participants to an event by letting them scan each other's QR code. It was made for IPFS Camp 2019. You can look at their presentation (opens new window). The code of this simple app is still in its GitHub repository (opens new window).
# Exchange messages
Berty.tech (opens new window) will be an IPFS-based messaging app that will ensure connections are made directly between devices, without the need for servers, and will work on a local network if there is no internet connection. It will also work over Bluetooth or other proximity transport.
# Store assets
By storing small scripts or big databases of your project on IPFS, and depending on your architecture, you can yield several benefits. If your users don't use an IPFS client, you will still have content de-duplication out of the box. If they use it, your users will seed the content they use, decreasing the workload on your infrastructure, increase the uptime of the service in case you go offline. Your users also won't contact your servers for the content they already have.
# Decentralized virtual reality
Decentraland (opens new window) is a virtual world you can explore with a VR set, your computer, or your smartphone. They store all the assets on IPFS, so these heavy files can be fetched from several other users at the same time for faster loading and synching.
# Video hosting platform
DTube (opens new window) is hosting videos on IPFS to reduce stress on their infrastructure. The website itself is not decentralized, but it mainly manages coordination between users and the discoverability of content. You can also learn how to replicate Youtube on IPFS (opens new window)
# Co-host large datasets
Qri (opens new window) is an open-source tool for the management of large datasets. Qri users enjoy reduced hosting costs, traceability of changes in the data, rollback to previous versions, and easier collaboration when updating data. De-duplication across datasets also helps to keep physical storage usage as small as possible, along with reducing sync times.
# Parallelize Big Data analysis
On some heavy analysis, you can benefit from parallelizing calculations on several nodes using Hadoop, for example. But on very large datasets, fetching the relevant subset for each node to compute is longer than the actual computation. Scott Brisbane proposed a design in a thesis (opens new window) to drastically reduce the fetching time using IPFS and divided the overall analysis time by four. Here is a one-page summary (opens new window) of the concept.
# Deadman switch
Killcord (opens new window) is an open project to automatically publicly publish data if the user doesn't check in after some time. This can ensure the ongoing investigation of a journalist carries on if they are unable to do it themselves, as the information gathered will now be public.
# Maps on IPFS
There is an existing IPFS devgrant (opens new window) to host OpenStreetMaps assets on IPFS (opens new window). In the long run, this could mean faster synchronization for apps using this scheme and lower bandwidth requirements for servers.
# P2P video streaming platform
Blust.tv (opens new window) wants to use IPFS to distribute movies when requested by its users. By adding their proprietary secret-sauce, they will facilitate the legal streaming of videos over P2P networks.
# Help host important data
Thanks to recent improvements with IPFS Cluster, you can call for help to store your data without having to trust other nodes won't alter the data. With collaborative mode (opens new window), you can replicate Pacman packages or COVID-19-related papers (opens new window) without needing to know the intricacies of IPFS.
# Video live-streaming
Let your users stream from each other to remove the need for a server without overloading a popular streamer. You can get inspired by the working prototype of Toronto Mesh (opens new window), or by the experimentations (opens new window) of Fission (opens new window). Fleek (opens new window) also did some experimentation (opens new window) using their Amazon S3/IPFS compatibility tool.
# Decentralized robots
# IPFS as infrastructure
Using IPFS allows you to abstract away a lot of the complexity of coordination between machines. No matter your architecture IPFS handles load balancing, de-duplication, caching, and high availability out-of-the-box. It's highly modular design also means you can easily customize it to your need.
# Decentralized clusters
IPFS Cluster (opens new window) is the official tool to manage a cluster of nodes to replicate data. Like any distributed cluster, you will have the benefits of redundancy, load balancing, and write permission management. You can choose to connect your cluster to the rest of the IPFS network or run it privately. You can also invite outsiders to help replicate your data without them having write-access, thanks to the collaborative mode (opens new window).
# Content delivery networks
A Content Delivery Network (opens new window) (CDN) is a network of nodes storing content in places physically close to the users. Having servers physically closer to the users ensures lower latency, enabling load-balancing, and allows you to scale the availability of content with demand. The IPFS network is a CDN by design because each node will cache what they consume and serve that data to its peers.
# Distributed package managers
The Node package manager (NPM) (opens new window) is mirrored on IPFS. By using the dedicated client npm-on-ipfs (opens new window), packages are fetched from IPFS and distributed to other clients needing them. For example, a team working in the same building will fetch packages from each other, meaning less network traffic costs for the company.
The developers of the Nix package manager (opens new window) are working on integrating IPFS for the distribution of binary packages and sources.
# Hosting software containers
Netflix is on its way to use IPFS to synchronize their Docker containers worldwide (opens new window). Since each node fetches them from the fastest peers they know, synchronization is substantially faster than regular sync methods.
# Efficient network factories
Actyx (opens new window) is helping the manufacturers to upgrade their plants to the Industry 4.0 (opens new window) era, meaning connecting the machines together for better performance, tolerance to failure, and flexibility. Actyx built a custom operating system on top of IPFS they deploy on all machines, so they emit metrics, receive orders, sync up information, and compute their next move locally.
# Lower your storage usage
By storing identical data only once on your node, storage-constrained projects are another natural fit for IPFS.
# Compress telemetry data
Sensor data is typically-structured and often contains duplicated blocks of data. In cases where a lot of sensor data is recorded, IPFS can reduce disk usage even more than simple compression thanks to its de-duplication techniques (opens new window).
# Decentralize your data
By decentralizing your data, you increase availability in case your server runs into an issue, your ISP is unhappy with what you publish, or a hostile government issues a take-down-order. You will also decrease the load time for your swarm-connected users and natively enable your app to work offline or on local networks. Depending on your app, your users can also reduce their storage requirements and download time thanks to native de-duplication and caching.
# Decentralized database
# IPFS hosting with Textile
Textile (opens new window) is a hosting company on IPFS developing the layers on top of IPFS. Among other things, they came up with separated cloud environments called buckets (opens new window). Textile has also built an impressive toolset for building decentralized applications and integrations (opens new window).
# NextCloud integration
JusticeNode has created an extension (opens new window) for the popular self-hosted cloud service NextCloud. This integration allows users to use IPFS as external storage.
# Deploy your website on IPFS
Fleek.co (opens new window) allows you to effortlessly build sites & apps on IPFS. The workflow is similar to that of Netlify: developers can link their website or a web app hosted on GitHub to Fleek and have it automatically built and deployed on IPFS whenever a change is made to a specific branch. Fleek also comes with Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and domain name integration and plan to enable many more ways to deploy soon: more Git providers, deploy via command-line interface, drag & drop a folder, via API, etc.
# Ethereum and Solidity specific applications
Embark (opens new window) is an all-in-one developer platform for building and deploying decentralized applications. It currently integrates with Ethereum blockchains, decentralized storage like IPFS, and decentralized communication platforms like Whisper and Orbit.
# Static-site generators
# Build a dApp
There are many available frameworks to build decentralized apps on IPFS. See for example Dappkit (opens new window), Fission (opens new window), Fleek (opens new window), or Textile (opens new window).
This app for government-citizen communication was built in two days during the DenverETH 2020 (opens new window) hackathon. It lets Colorado citizens manage state-owned data about themselves, such as their driving license status or business registration. You can see its code (opens new window), or a slide presentation (opens new window).
Haven (opens new window) is a privacy-focused mobile app for shopping. Haven doesn't know its users' buying history, lets them pay with crypto, and doesn't take a cut on.
# Torrent tracker hub
BitTorrent (opens new window) is a powerful P2P file-sharing technology, but it works better with the help of centralized trackers helping users know who has what. Some people tried with some success to decentralize them. You can find their working prototype here (opens new window).
# COVID-19 tracker
This simple tracker API lets any IPFS node request the latest data about the COVID-19 pandemics. See the code on GitHub (opens new window).
# GitHub integration
This simple GitHub Action (opens new window) lets you upload your GitHub Releases on IPFS automatically.
# Backup your Wolfram data
In a recent update, Wolfram let users store their computation or assets on IPFS. Check out the version notes (opens new window) for more information.
# Music streaming platform
Audius (opens new window) is a music streaming platform built on IPFS. Artists are in control, no fees are taken by the platform, and listeners can enjoy their music while offline.
# Music player
Diffuse.sh (opens new window) is an online music player that you can connect to your music repositories to listen to it from anywhere. You can now connect it to IPFS repositories.
# Decentralized autonomous organization (DAO)
Aragon (opens new window), a service for creating DAOs, uses IPFS to store its data.
# Decentralize the Web itself
Some core pieces of the web are still centralized, making it more prone to break or being censored. IPFS can help and make the web more resilient.
# Decentralized DNS
The Domain Name System (opens new window) (DNS) is one of the most centralized pieces of the web. By having to ask a central place to know where to find
# Archive the web
Thanks to de-duplication, IPFS is a powerful tool for archiving the web. The InterPlanetary Wayback (opens new window) is tackling this endeavor.
# Fight censorship
Wikipedia has not been accessible in Turkey for a few years. The company behind IPFS, Protocol Labs, is hosting a mirror of Wikipedia on IPFS. See the original blog post (opens new window) and the project code (opens new window) for more information.
# Blockchain use-cases
IPFS is a natural fit for blockchain (opens new window) use cases. The common state of the chain is distributed on-chain among participants, and specific data is stored on IPFS. Thanks to content addressing, the blockchain only needs to store the IPFS multihash, and users are sure to fetch correct data from any of their peers. This architecture is becoming the de facto standard for blockchain applications.
# Global market place for data storage
Filecoin (opens new window) lets any storage owner host data for users who need additional space. It is one of the reasons IPFS exists in the first place and will be a great accelerator of the IPFS growth once fully online later this year. The project is developed by Protocol Labs (opens new window).
Textile.io is building the Powergate (opens new window) tool for your app to interact with Filecoin once the main net is launched.
# Exchange Internet-of-Things data
IOTA (opens new window) is a foundation maintaining the Tangle, a blockchain-like network with zero fees. Their vision is to automate the exchange of data between sensors, machines, and other devices, for free or sold by the provider. IOTA announced (opens new window) that data can now be hosted on IPFS, as shown in this demo (opens new window).
# Send crypto to human-readable addresses
The Humanize Pay project (opens new window) lets you have a human-readable Ethereum address, so users don't have to deal with long and un-memorable addresses.
# AI as a service
MindSync (opens new window) wants to build a blockchain hosting AI competitions and let AI skills offer and demand meet.
# Education platform
RocketShoes (opens new window) is an education platform where students produce and tag learning materials, assignments, notes, and digital assets. These are stored on IPFS, and the blockchain ensures the timestamping, proof of ownership, and incentivization layer.
# Query the DWeb across blockchains
TheGraph (opens new window) wants to enable users to look for information on any blockchain or distributed service thanks to their query language GraphQL and the indexations of the chains thanks to IPFS.
# Proof of ownership
With IPFS and a blockchain, you can prove ownership of a file at a certain time without disclosing it. See here an example of implementation (opens new window).
# Proof of humanness
Idena (opens new window) is a blockchain to prove that you are human (which is distinct from DID). It uses IPFS under the hood.
# Build Smart City apps
# Decentralized prediction markets
Augur (opens new window) is a blockchain and decentralized market where you can bet on anything or request prediction from the crowd's wisdom. Like so many blockchain-based apps, the data is hosted on IPFS.
# Decentralized weather data
The weather risk marketplace Arbol (opens new window) relies on blockchain technology to track and validate weather data. Arbol uses IPFS (opens new window) to store multiple terabytes of verified weather data without fear of tampering.
# Decentralized Identity
Decentralized Identity (opens new window) is the concept of storing all your personal data on your devices rather than let every service you use store a partial copy of it. You having control of your data means that you decide which app has access to what, that you only fill in your information once, and that you can revoke access. Decentralized identity is a hot topic, and IPFS is one of the core technologies a lot of engineers build around. The identity wallet Nomios (opens new window) shared some thoughts (opens new window) about decentralized identity general during the IPFS Camp 2019 (opens new window).
Element is an open-source project that combines the content addressing and the interactiveness of Ethereum smart contracts to provide a tool for managing identity.
# 3ID Connect
3ID Connect is developed by 3Box (opens new window), a personal data manager for apps leveraging IPFS. 3Box wants to make using decentralized identity as simple as clicking on Connect with Google or Connect with Facebook. You can read their article (opens new window) explaining how to bring it to your app.
# Microsoft ION
Microsoft (opens new window) started experimentation by pinning some decentralized identity information to IPFS and publishing the hash to the Bitcoin blockchain. Microsoft wrote a blog post about their findings (opens new window).
# Ceramic Protocol
The Ceramic Protocol (opens new window) is another proposition for decentralized identity on IPFS, along with a complete protocol for data and document exchanges.
# Non-implemented use cases
Here is a non-exhaustive list of use cases that were not implemented yet. Pick up the challenge yourself or follow your own idea! If you want to discuss your idea or have some problems, head to the IPFS forum (opens new window) or the IPFS help page (opens new window).
- Coordinate activists groups without fear from censorship (opens new window)
- Manage the knowledge of the whole world (opens new window)
- Build a giant database for genetic data (opens new window)
- Create a mesh network on IPFS (opens new window)
- Bring additional services to your existing mesh network
- Serverless online gaming
- Put Hadoop on IPFS (opens new window)
- Add more transports to IPFS for mobile usage (here (opens new window) or here (opens new window) )
- Cohost the site you visit (opens new window)
- Distributed cards for spaced learning (opens new window)
- Unblock the offline-first use cases (opens new window)
- Build a distributed OS (opens new window)
- Distribute the medical data (opens new window)
- Improve information sharing during disaster recovery
- Get a grant for your help or propose an open grand (opens new window)
- Make an interactive app for your classroom
- Build a distributed social media (opens new window)
- Decentralize peer-reviewing of scholar papers (opens new window)
- Help to host NASA databases (opens new window)
- Help to host LibGen materials (opens new window)
- Make a manga reader (opens new window)
- Make a Gif-sharing platform (opens new window)
- An interactive P2P application working in crowded events such as festivals
- Ethereum/Solidity Smart Contract CI Toolchain on IPFS (opens new window)
- Various ideas from GitHub (opens new window)