The blockchain, originally conceived as the underlying technology for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, has evolved far beyond its initial purpose. One of the additional purposes being pursued is hosting a website on a blockchain.
Can you host a website on a blockchain? Yes, a website can be hosted on a blockchain. The setup can be more complicated than traditional website hosting, but the advantages of cost, immutability and decentralization offer a compelling reason to put a website on a blockchain.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the concept of hosting a website on a blockchain, exploring the possibilities, advantages, and challenges, while ending with a case study of a hosted website on the Arweave blockchain.
Why would you want to host a website on a blockchain?
It is easy to see some of the reasons that people have started to pursue putting a website on a blockchain versus traditional hosting.
Traditional hosting of a website can be quite expensive with high month-to-month payments, even if it is a simple website. The costs of month-to-month payments often exceed the value to someone of keeping a site up.
Additionally, traditional hosting relies on a single centralized storage point. This centralized hosting is open to attacks, data loss, and loss of control.
With this in mind the question becomes: ‘Would blockchain allow websites to be hosted for smaller fees and better control of data?’.
Hosting a Website on a Blockchain: The Advantages
- Decentralized Storage: Traditional website hosting relies on centralized servers and data centers. In contrast, hosting a website on a blockchain can leverage decentralized storage solutions on platforms such as Arweave and Filecoin. A decentralized system breaks down website data into smaller chunks, encrypt them, and distribute them across a vast network of nodes. Data on multiple nodes ensures redundancy and reduces the risk of downtime.
- Increased Security: The decentralized nature of blockchains reduces the vulnerability to attacks, as there is no central server to target. Additionally, data stored on a blockchain is immutable, making it resistant to unauthorized alterations or censorship.
- Ownership and Control: When you host a website on a blockchain, you have greater ownership and control over your content. Traditional hosting providers can suspend or shut down websites for various reasons, often without prior notice. On a blockchain, you maintain control over your content, and no central authority can take it down arbitrarily.
- Reduced Costs: Traditional website hosting is on a month-to-month basis and can be quite expensive even for smaller websites. Contrast this to the Arweave blockchain that only requires a one-time fee – often less than one month of a subscription service – to store the content of the site.
Challenges of Hosting a Website on a Blockchain
- Complex Websites: High traffic websites with interactive features are not ideal for the blockchain. Solving scalability problems is crucial for the widespread adoption of blockchain-based hosting.
- User Experience: Blockchain-based websites may have slower load times and do not support advanced features such as interactive forms, chatbots and eCommerce.
- Technical Set Up: Hosting a website on a blockchain involves a higher level of technical ability than your average consumer hosting service.
Use Cases for Blockchain-Based Web Hosting
Despite these limitations, there are several specific use cases where blockchain-based web hosting can shine.
In particularly, one type of website is perfect for being hosted on a blockchain: Static websites.
What is a static website? A static website is a site that doesn’t change very much and doesn’t have interactive components like online forms or chat modules. Examples include:
- Academic Research: Put all of your research on the blockchain so when the funding runs out your site can stay up!
- Content Censorship Resistance: Websites that prioritize censorship resistance and free speech can benefit from blockchain hosting, as they are less susceptible to takedowns or censorship attempts.
- Personal Blogs and Portfolios: For individual business portfolios or family and trip archives that don’t change it is much better to pay a small-one time fee than to be on month-to-month subscriptions.
Artist website hosted permanently on Arweave for a one-time price. See permasite
Case Study: Host a website on the Arweave blockchain using the file management app ArDrive.
The ArDrive file management app was created to allow anyone to be able to use permanent data on the Arweave blockchain. Arweave in itself is a groundbreaking blockchain that allows for permanent data, but is difficult for the non-developer to use.
ArDrive bridges that gap by allowing people to manage all of their files on Arweave in an intuitive file folder system. In addition, ArDrive gives the ability to take your website and host it on Arweave.
Here are some permasites that are currently being hosted on Arweave through ArDrive:
Advantages of sites being hosted on Arweave include:
Low one time cost: The cost to get one of these sites up on Arweave through ArDrive costs less than $1 with no monthly subscriptions. If you update or make changes that will cost, but often only cents or even fractions of a cent.
Links that last forever: Every web page is given a URL that is permanent. This solves the problem of broken links, 404s and link rot.
Hosted forever: Research project funding stopped? No need to shutdown the hosted site, because on Arweave it will outlive you with no extra costs beyond your first payment.
Use your DNS address or a decentralized one like ArNS: With ArDrive you are still able to use your DNS domain or grab a permanent domain from somewhere like Arweave Name Service (ArNS) – the choice is yours!
Variation control: Want to see what the first version of the website you uploaded onto the permaweb? No problem. Easily go back to look back at versions of websites you had on Arweave. Browse all of the old ArDrive dapps and websites here.
How to get your website onto Arweave
Do you think your website would be a good fit for being hosted on a blockchain?
One of our users has created a guide that shows people how to create permasites in 10 simple steps.