(De)centralized storage Crash: What would happen if Opensea (or another NFT marketplace) closed tomorrow?

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Although it may sound confusing at first, in this post we are going to try to answer the question: What would happen if Opensea (or another marketplace) closed or Crashed tomorrow? If you mint (create) NFTs, you have surely heard of decentralized and centralized storage and Opensea’s “freeze metadata”.

opensea-nft-marketplace-closed-crash
opensea-nft-marketplace-closed-crash

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Opensea uses a centralized storage NFT storage for your metadata. What does this imply? Very simple. If Opensea were to disappear tomorrow for any reason, your NFT metadata would also disappear because it is stored on their servers. Not only that, but if, for any reason (such as a court order), Opensea decides that your NFT violates any regulations, they may delete the metadata from your NFT and leave it empty. Therefore, having the metadata centralized on a server means entrusting the future of your NFT to that of the servers where the metadata is hosted and to what its owners want.

Understanding how NFT metadata works.

When we create an NFT , what we really do is write a few lines of code (instructions) inside a smart contract that are attached to a specific file (.jpg, .mp4, etc). In addition, we have other data such as the title of the NFT or the description . All of these auxiliary data are considered metadata .

nft-metadata-example
nft-metadata-example

For example, in this image above we can see the metadata of an NFT : the name or title , the description and the image or file linked to it in a link. This is common to all NFTs and is a standard that they abide by. This information translates into the image below, which is what we see in marketplaces like Opensea.

opensea-example-nft-2
opensea-example-nft-2

Now, this “metadata” of the NFTs (text, file, etc.) is stored in a specific place . Have you ever wondered why in some NFT marketplaces we can upload fairly large files and not in others?

This is due to the type of storage that the marketplace in question offers you and it is something that we do not pay much attention to but that can mean the life or death of your collection in the long term.

This is where the difference between centralized and decentralized storage is born

Have you ever seen that Opensea put ” Editable metadata ” in the NFT details? Until recently, Opensea indicated whether the storage was centralized or decentralized, but they changed its name due to the power of a new functionality by which you can “freeze” the metadata on the platform.

opensea-centralized-nft-storage-example
opensea-centralized-nft-storage-example

When we see this in the NFT, it has several implications. The most important is that if the metadata (file, text, etc) is ” editable ” it is stored on Opensea’s centralized servers.

That is why there is an “onchain” movement so that all this information is stored in a decentralized way, because if not, the NFTs would disappear after a while (as has been the case with some other NFTs) when the technology behind it can make them eternal.

Using a Decentralized storage in NFT is the best (IPFS)

In contrast to centralized storage on a server like Opensea’s, there is an alternative that many marketplaces such as Foundation , Rarible or Hicetnunc have integrated so that storage is decentralized and it is called IPFS .

IPFS (Interplanetary File System) is a P2P storage service that works in a similar way to the blockchain, since everything does not fall on a server , but rather the information is distributed in nodes around the world . This makes this information (such as your NFT) last over time without depending on platforms .

The disadvantage is that since it is a network that depends on nodes, the information you upload (files) cannot be very heavy . However, you ensure that your NFT lasts over time .

In addition to IPFS, there are other decentralized options such as storage on the blockchain itself . However, it is something very expensive

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