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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Centralized vs Decentralized Storage Cost (2023)

4.3
| by
Lim Yu Qian
-

Which is Cheaper, Decentralized Storage or Centralized Storage?

Decentralized storage is cheaper than centralized storage by around 78.6% on average. This is given that the main decentralized storage options cost $2.11 for 1TB per month on average, compared to the average of $9.88 among top centralized storage providers across personal and enterprise plans.

The most expensive major decentralized storage option costs $0.16 less than the cheapest centralized storage option, for 1TB/month. Storj charges the highest among top decentralized storage providers at $4.00, whereas Google Drive offers the lowest price of $4.16 among top centralized storage providers. That said, Storj charges separately for the retrieval of stored files at $7/TB for download bandwidth.

While the price gap might be too marginal for individuals considering personal data storage alternatives, the cost differences between centralized and decentralized storage can add up for businesses or organizations.

In terms of data storage for businesses, centralized storage providers can be much more expensive than decentralized alternatives, with enterprise-grade centralized storage costing up to 121X more than enterprise-grade decentralized storage. Popular business cloud storage solution Amazon S3 costs around $23.00 for 1TB per month, which is $22.81 more than top decentralized storage solution Filecoin’s $0.19. Filecoin is used by organizations such as the Internet Archive, which runs the Wayback Machine.

How Much Does 1TB of Decentralized Storage Cost?

The price for 1 terabyte (TB) per month of decentralized data storage ranges from $0.19 on Filecoin to $4.00 on Storj. On average, 1TB of decentralized data storage costs $2.11 per month in 2023.

This is based on an analysis of the pricing plans for 5 of the biggest decentralized storage providers Filecoin, Arweave, Sia, Storj and BitTorrent File System (BTFS).

1TB is able to hold around 250,000 photos, or 500 hours of 1080p high definition videos. Alternatively, 1TB of storage space can contain 17,000 hours in audio files, or tens of millions of pages in documents.

1TB is technically equivalent to 1,024 gigabytes (GB), but is typically taken as 1,000GB for convenience among consumers and sellers.

Best Decentralized Storage Providers by Price

Decentralized Storage Provider

Cost (1TB/month, USD)

Filecoin

$0.19

Sia

$2.00

Arweave

$2.13

BitTorrent File System

$2.24

Storj

$4.00

Protocol Labs’ Filecoin is currently the best decentralized storage provider in terms of affordable prices. Filecoin has been able to offer lower prices for data storage by providing subsidies to ensure attractive block rewards.

Sia, Arweave and BitTorrent File System are mid-range options for decentralized storage solutions. Notably, Arweave offers the option to lock in data storage for 200 years with upfront payment.

Comparing Centralized vs Decentralized Storage Costs for File Backups

In order to store a copy of all the existing YouTube videos for the next 100 years, it would cost between $7.42 billion to $8.55 billion more on enterprise-grade centralized cloud storage than on decentralized storage. Assuming YouTube videos’ total file size reached over 312 petabytes (PB) and prices remained unchanged, Amazon S3 would charge $8.62 billion and Google Cloud $7.50 billion, compared to $71.22 million on Filecoin or $1.50 billion on Storj.

This comes as Google’s recent update to its inactive account policy has sparked debate around the data that users create on centralized platforms, and has brought attention to the need for centralized storage alternatives. 

Google announcement on Updating Inactive Account Policy

As another example, to preserve three of the most iconic anime Naruto, One Piece and Detective Conan for the next century, decentralized storage would cost just $497.04 on Filecoin at the more affordable end. Arweave, which specializes in longer-term, ‘permanent’ decentralized data storage, would charge $5,572.08 to store these three anime for 100 years. In comparison, it would cost an additional $10,385.52 to store Naruto, One Piece and Detective Conan on Google Drive for a century

That said, it is important to note that pricing on decentralized storage networks tend to follow a more dynamic calculation, and is also affected by the decentralized storage token’s price fluctuations. 

What is Decentralized Storage?

Decentralized storage networks encrypt and store files in a distributed network of nodes, which are run by different organizations or individuals, instead of a single company. Decentralized storage providers use blockchain technology to hash either the data being stored, or the storage location of the data.

Methodology

The study examined centralized and decentralized storage providers’ pricing for 1 terabyte per month in USD, as of May 16, 2023.

The total size of videos on YouTube was calculated based on commonly-cited public estimates.


If you use these insights, we would appreciate a link credit to this article on CoinGecko. A link credit allows us to keep supplying you with future data-led content that you may find useful.

Curious to find out more about our previous research studies? Check out this one we did on the top decentralized social media in 2023.

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Lim Yu Qian
Lim Yu Qian
Yuqian is a crypto research analyst at CoinGecko, covering a range of topics from NFTs to ETFs, crypto adoption and interest, and beyond. She's especially fascinated by the philosophical and socioeconomic aspects of crypto. She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honors from the National University of Singapore. Follow the author on Twitter @solosbrqt

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