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It has never been a secret that artwork is expensive to store, sometimes costing as much as $100,000 per year for large and valuable art collections. The reality is that valuable artwork is often purchased to sit in a box where no eyes will appreciate its grandeur.
The NFT space has changed the way we approach artwork and storage solutions. The advantages of NFTs are substantial for avid art collectors, who no longer need to pay for physical space to store their valuable assets, nor need to deal with the logistical difficulties of finding a place for them. Instead, using marketplaces and blockchain technology, they can collect NFTs and store them digitally.
These benefits dissipate when faced with a crushing reality: NFTs can go missing. The disappearance of NFTs is not an isolated incident — rug pulls and NFT losses have become rampant in the industry, leading to over $30 Million in losses over two months. NFTs have become incredibly valuable, so imagine the distress experienced by users whose digital assets go missing. To promote the long-term growth of the space, we need to be able to tell users that we can provide them with the utmost security for their assets, much like in the traditional art world. Otherwise, the NFT space will have difficulties in retaining and acquiring users, posing a challenge to the mainstream adoption of these digital assets.
Storage protocols seeking to minimize the damage do exist, but they do not all offer comprehensive solutions. Some of these provide users with a URL to a third party where the NFT data is housed, adding an external dependency. These can be more easily manipulated than data that is stored on-chain.
IPFS, a popular storage solution, offers a slightly better but still flawed solution. IPFS removes external dependencies and provides decentralized storage solutions for digital assets. However, the owner has the responsibility of maintaining the data. If the owner stops sustaining that NFT data, the NFT will disappear. It is not uncommon for nodes to clear data to make more space on the network due to the lack of incentivization IPFS provides operators. Additionally, IPFS storage is designed for a wide variety of use cases, rather than being tailored specifically to NFTs.
The good news is, on-chain storage solutions designed specifically for NFTs can fix that problem. By minting, buying or selling NFTs on marketplaces that implement these native storage solutions, users can be reassured that their assets will not be lost and that they will always be fully recoverable. Pastel Network’s Cascade protocol is an example of one of these storage solutions, tailored to NFTs and recovery.
By breaking up NFT data into chunks that are then distributed across the network of SuperNodes, protocols can maximize the decentralization of NFT storage. Greater data distribution also means that even if a disruption causes almost all of the nodes to go down, NFTs are still recoverable. Essentially, using native storage solutions as opposed to third-party centralized servers essentially guarantees that no NFTs disappear, ever.
Entrepreneurs looking to build NFT marketplaces should take this into account when determining their storage protocol of choice for digital assets. For creators and collectors, it is also an important factor when determining the best NFT platform to buy, sell and mint assets. Therefore, entrepreneurs, creators and collectors need to have access to the educational tools and resources needed to trade and store collectibles safely.