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The internet has come a long way since it first began, and websites have become a crucial part of our daily lives. However, how we typically host websites has not changed much, as they are usually stored on servers owned by a few big companies.
In recent years, there has been growing interest in decentralization to improve online services' security, privacy, and availability. With the rise of blockchain technology, decentralized web hosting, often called "web3," has become a viable alternative.
In 2022, the global market for web3 using blockchain technology was valued at $1.73 billion, and it's expected to grow at a rate of 47.1% annually from 2023 to 2030. This growth is driven by the demand for decentralized identity and advancements in internet technology, which enhance data privacy.
Decentralized web hosting offers several advantages over traditional hosting methods. It makes websites less susceptible to attacks and censorship because there is no single point of failure. Additionally, it improves the privacy of both website owners and visitors, as data is spread across multiple nodes.
In this tutorial, we'll guide you through hosting a decentralized website. We'll also explain what decentralized web hosting is. To know more about its benefits, limitations, and differences between centralized and decentralized web hosting, follow this blog to understand this exciting technology comprehensively.
What is Web3 Hosting?
In a typical web setup, a server sends website files to users, but this system can allow larger organizations or governments to control what content people see, limiting the freedom of the World Wide Web. This led to the emergence of decentralized web hosting, a different way of hosting websites where files are stored on various computers, not just one central server.
Decentralized web hosting provides increased security, redundancy, and resistance to censorship. Technologies like blockchains, peer-to-peer networks, and other distributed systems ensure website files remain available during network issues or disruptions. This topic is particularly interesting for those concerned about internet censorship, privacy, and the concentration of web hosting power.
Web3, or decentralized hosting, is significant because it fundamentally changes how websites and web applications are hosted and accessed. Traditional web hosting has its downsides, like the potential for downtime, security vulnerabilities, and the risk of censorship or control by third parties.
Moreover, Web3 hosting introduces new business opportunities and income streams, like microtransactions and decentralized content distribution networks, while providing better security, resilience, and resistance to censorship.
Why Is Decentralized Website Hosting important?
Decentralized website hosting, also known as Web3 hosting, offers several benefits over traditional centralized hosting methods. Some of the key advantages include
Protection against de-platforming and censorship: Decentralized hosting makes it harder for governments, ISPs, or other entities to block or shut down websites they don't agree with. Since there is no single point of control, it's more challenging to take down a decentralized website without affecting other users.
Reduced dependence on intermediaries: Traditional hosting models rely on intermediaries like domain registrars, DNS providers, and cloud infrastructure services. Decentralized hosting reduces the need for these intermediaries, giving website owners more control over their online presence.
Cost savings: Because decentralized hosting doesn't require expensive hardware or infrastructure, it can often be more cost-effective compared to traditional hosting solutions.
Better alignment with the principles of the open web: Decentralized hosting aligns with the original vision of the internet as an open, distributed network where everyone has equal access and opportunities to participate. It moves away from the centralized model dominated by large corporations and governments.
Improved technical resilience: With decentralized hosting, a website's data is stored on multiple nodes rather than a single server. This means that even if one node goes offline or experiences technical difficulties, the website can still function normally using other available nodes. This leads to greater uptime and reliability for the website.
Enhanced security and privacy: By distributing data across multiple nodes, decentralized hosting makes it more difficult for hackers to access and manipulate sensitive information. Additionally, because there is no central authority controlling the data, there is less risk of data breaches or unauthorized access.
Where are the data stored in Web3?
Interplanetary File System (IPFS) is a type of technology that allows people to store and share files on the internet differently than the usual methods. Instead of relying on a central server, like how websites are typically hosted, IPFS uses a network of computers to store and share files. This means that even if one computer goes offline, others can still help share the files, so no single weak point can cause everything to stop working.
In simpler terms, IPFS is a way to make the internet more resilient and less dependent on a single place or server to store and share files. It's like spreading out the responsibility among many computers, which makes it harder for the system to break down. This technology has the potential to change how websites and online applications work, making them more decentralized and harder to shut down.
Prerequisites for Hosting Decentralized Websites
Understanding of Decentralized Networks: Decentralized networks, such as blockchain, are the foundation of decentralized websites. You need to understand how these networks work, including their advantages and disadvantages. Decentralized networks do not rely on a central server; instead, they distribute data across multiple nodes, making them resistant to censorship and single points of failure.
Knowledge of IPFS: The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a protocol and network designed to create a content-addressable, peer-to-peer method of storing and sharing hypermedia in a distributed file system. This is commonly used in hosting decentralized websites.
Blockchain Domain Names: Traditional domain names are controlled by a central authority. However, in a decentralized website, domain names are usually blockchain-based, providing full control to the owner of the domain. Understanding how blockchain domain names work is crucial. Services like Ethereum Name Service (ENS) or Unstoppable Domains can be used for this.
Smart Contracts: Knowledge of smart contracts is important if you're using a blockchain-based system for your decentralized website. Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code. They are stored on the blockchain and automatically execute when predetermined terms and conditions are met.
Gas Fees: If you intend to construct your website or application on a pre-existing platform like Ethereum, you will incur initial deployment expenses known as "gas fees."
How to Host a Decentralized Website?
Step 1: Create Website Files
To start hosting a decentralized website, you'll need to generate the necessary website files and establish a means for them to interact with servers. This requires utilizing various web3 technologies and tools.
You can use P2P networks such as the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), which stores and shares data, or Spheron Network to integrate your website seamlessly.
Follow this blog for Top Tips for Successfully Hosting Your Static Site on IPFS
Step 2: Acquire a Domain Name
A domain name is crucial for making your decentralized web application discoverable. Traditionally, domain names are owned by centralized organizations, but you can obtain a decentralized domain from providers that offer greater control. A decentralized website is hosted on a server that a single organization or individual does not manage, and its domain name is also decentralized. As a result, the website's address cannot be revoked, and the data stored on it is secure from tampering or destruction. A platform like ENS is an excellent starting point for this.
Step 3: Host the Files on the Network
Now, it's time to store your website files on a web3 system like IPFS. However, it is essential to break these files into smaller segments and distribute them across different nodes within the decentralized network.
To store files on the network during decentralized web hosting, you can leverage the benefit of Spheron Network. Using the platform, you can use many popular frameworks, like Gatsby, Hugo, Next.js, React, Vue, Vanilla JS, etc. Spheron Network has specific guides for each framework to help you prepare your site. Also, you can follow these blogs for a step-by-step guide.
Step 4: Connect the Domain and Website Files
You must link your website files to the Ethereum Name System (DNS). The time it takes for ENS changes to propagate may vary depending on your service provider. Once the connection is established, you'll obtain a unique hash or identifier for your website.
Follow this blog for a Guide to Connect Your Static Site with an ENS Domain.
Step 5: Test Your Decentralized Website
To ensure your website is accessible online, you can type your domain into your preferred search engine. Using a web3 browser like Brave is recommended for testing your decentralized website's functionality.
Decentralized Website Examples
You might have come across decentralized websites or applications without even realizing it while exploring the internet. Here are some notable instances:
Spheron Network: Spheron is a PaaS designed for startups, optimizing scalability and minimizing infrastructural costs to boost growth and profitability.
Uniswap: Uniswap stands as one of the prominent decentralized exchanges, facilitating ERC-20 token trading for users.
Brave: Brave is a web browser that provides access to decentralized applications, making it a convenient gateway to the decentralized web.
Aave: Aave represents an open-source liquidity protocol that enables users to engage in lending, staking, borrowing, and earning from their cryptocurrency tokens.
Decentralized Web Hosting: A Secure, Cost-Effective, and Private Solution
Decentralized web hosting offers numerous benefits over traditional centralized hosting, including enhanced security, lower costs, and greater control and privacy. By distributing website files across a network of nodes, decentralized hosting provides superior security for both users and website owners. This decentralization makes it less susceptible to hacking and server outages, reducing the risk of data breaches and other security threats.
In addition to security benefits, decentralized hosting is often more cost-effective than traditional hosting. Because it doesn't require expensive server infrastructure and maintenance, it's an affordable option for small businesses and individuals who want to host a website without breaking the bank.
Moreover, decentralized hosting empowers website owners and users by giving them greater control and privacy over their data. With no single entity controlling the network, users have the authority to manage their data and choose how it's shared and used. This helps prevent privacy violations, such as data mining - the practice of uncovering patterns and insights from large datasets through machine learning and statistical techniques.
Navigating the Challenges of Decentralized Web Hosting
While decentralized web hosting offers numerous advantages, it's crucial to carefully evaluate the technical, infrastructural, and regulatory challenges involved before choosing this option for your website.
One major challenge is the required level of technological expertise, as setting up and maintaining a decentralized website can be more complicated than traditional hosting services. Additionally, decentralized websites rely on a network of nodes to store files, which may result in slower loading speeds and limited scalability compared to centralized hosting.
Another issue is the lack of standardization and best practices in decentralized hosting, making it difficult for website owners to choose a suitable provider. Furthermore, the legal and regulatory landscape for decentralized hosting is still evolving, creating uncertainty around issues such as liability, data security, and other legal matters.
That's where Spheron Network comes into the picture. Spheron simplifies the web hosting process, making it easy for developers to deploy their applications in just a matter of minutes. Spheron offers a suite of services that support blockchain applications, including hosting, storage, and computing services.
With Spheron's user-friendly interface and robust infrastructure, users can focus on developing great apps and dapps without worrying about the hassle of setting up and managing servers. Spheron Network takes care of the technical details so developers can concentrate on what matters most - creating innovative and successful web applications.
The importance of decentralized website hosting cannot be overstated. It safeguards against de-platforming and censorship, reduces dependence on intermediaries, lowers costs, and aligns with the open web principles. Furthermore, it enhances technical resilience, security, and privacy, making it an attractive choice for website owners and users.
To embark on your journey into decentralized hosting, you'll need a solid understanding of decentralized networks, technologies like IPFS, blockchain domain names, smart contracts, and front-end and back-end development. While there are challenges like the complexity of the web3 understanding and the hard learning curve associated with decentralized hosting, platforms like Spheron Network are working to address these issues and make it easier for developers to deploy and manage their applications in a decentralized environment.
Spheron Network provides a comprehensive platform for building, deploying, and managing decentralized applications, including web hosting capabilities. With Spheron Network, users can easily create and deploy their own decentralized websites without needing to worry about the technical complexities of setting up and managing a decentralized hosting environment.
As web3 hosting continues to evolve and mature, it holds the promise of a more open, secure, and decentralized internet, where control is distributed and the web is more resistant to censorship and disruption. So, embrace the potential of Web3 hosting and be part of the movement shaping the internet's future.