Can you store NFTs on Arweave?

Degen Ape Academy
Degenerate Ape Academy NFTs are stored on Arweave. Image source: Solanart.

By: Wayne Jones and Christopher Powers

The invention of the Arweave protocol and permanent data storage has created hundreds of new solutions real world problems.  But does that also include storage for NFTs? 

Can you store NFTs on Arweave? Yes. Arweave is the de facto permanent storage method to maintain NFT reliability and sustainability. Every NFT's image and metadata is stored for at least 200 years (but probably much longer) when uploaded to the protocol. 

Let's explore what makes Arweave so effective at storing NFTs.  

What are the options (and problems) of storing NFTs in the current space

There are many places where you can store NFTs, but let’s take the most popular one as an example: OpenSea

When you begin minting a collection of NFTs on Open Sea, and dig a little deeper into where they are being stored you will realize that the image and metadata are at best stored on IPFS (a decentralized subscription storage service), and at worst centralized on OpenSea’s servers.

Either way this puts the image (and the links to the NFT) at the mercy of whoever pays the bills at OpenSea or the various IPFS servers. 

If either goes down (and, if we’re in this for the long run, which means centuries, then that is not an ‘if,’ but a ‘when,’) the NFT disappears and the NFTs become a really expensive 404. 

Is there a better solution? 

Arweave-Spinyx

What is Arweave and why is it good for NFTs?

This leads us to Arweave, a blockchain devoted to data storage whose innovative employment of ‘perpetual endowments’ ensures data immutability for literally hundreds of years—if not the lifetime of the internet.

Many NFT creators want their art to remain and enrich humanity for as long as it possibly can. But their work is digital and even a very well-printed, high-resolution canvas version of the NFT isn’t really the original form of the art. 

Hard drives eventually die, and Google Drive (and other cloud storage options like it) will eventually go away. How could my work be preserved for decades, for centuries, even for millennia (should humanity endure)?

Arweave provides the answer. 

With a combination of innovation on the technology and economic side they are the first to make long-term data storage available. 

On the technological side, Arweave leveraged blockchain technology to create data that would be immutable (unchanging) and permanent. 

On the economic side, Arweave leverages an economic system where a large portion of the initial purchase (often only cents or fractions of a cent) goes into an endowment that will pay for storage for lifetimes.. 

Read more: Can you really store data forever? 

Nepenthe Valley is a vibrant virtual world by simulation artist Lawrence Lek 陆明龙
Nepenthe Valley is a vibrant NFT-powered world by artist Lawrence Lek 陆明龙 and stored on Arweave

How is Arweave changing the NFT landscape?

In addition to Arweave being an incredible discovery for the sake of preserving all types of files, it is also the solution—and the only current solution— to the problem of NFT impermanence. 

With digital images and metadata stored on Arweave, and Arweave links binding the NFT to its Ar-woven assets, NFT creators can mint truly immutable tokens whose links cannot break and whose art never disappears. 

Without reliable, multi-century permanence of assets, NFTs really are just the flash-in-the-pan fad that so many malign them for being. 

However, with this kind of true permanence—which only Arweave offers, despite the claims many make for IPFS—NFTs become a virtual artifact that adds genuine value, verifiable uniqueness, and long-term collectibility to digital art pieces. 

It is not an exaggeration to say that Arweave is the reason artists have changed their minds to decide that NFTs are a worthwhile endeavour.  Read about Full of Eyes

Solana Monkey Business
Metadata for Solana Monkey Business NFTs is stored on Arweave

How do you use Arweave to store your NFTs on marketplaces?

After Arweave has been discovered the most natural question becomes: How do I use it to store my media and metadata associated with my NFTs?

Most NFT creators are artists, not developers, coders, or even blockchain aficionados.  How can they upload thousands of images, plus their associated metadata files, to Arweave and then somehow turn those into NFTs? 

There are a few different options, but let’s start with the one we are most familiar with: ArDrive. 

ArDrive is a file storage management system built upon the Arweave protocol with an interface similar to other file sync apps (like what you are used to in GoogleDrive, DropBox or OneDrive).  

This simple interface enables even blockchain newbies to begin uploading files to Arweave within minutes.

Laserilla-Arrows-PS1800
Find your Transaction IDs (Tx ID) by clicking on the Info icon in ArDrive

Uploading your NFTS image and metadata to Arweave

Every file stored to ArDrive receives a unique—and permanent—Transaction ID (Tx ID), this is essentially the fingerprint by which that file can be identified for the next 200+ years. 

Crucially, an asset’s Tx ID doubles as an unbreakable Arweave link back to that asset. Using these Tx IDs, you are able to place immutable Arweave links to an NFT’s media file inside the NFT’s metadata, upload that metadata to Arweave, and then use that metadata’s Tx ID to create an equally immutable link back to the metadata itself. 

This final Arweave link for the metadata is then used as the URI in a smart contract and, voila:  a genuinely immutable, pervasively Ar-woven NFT. 

There is something truly satisfying about knowing that every asset and link in the final NFT is backed up by the generations-spanning storage promise of Arweave, and ArDrive is the app that opens this up to NFT creators.

Arweave NFT Marketplaces

Besides ArDrive, many NFT marketplaces have made Arweave their de facto storage layer.

Within the Arweave ecosystem some of the more popular ones are:

  • Koii - attention rewards protocol and node platform
  • Pianity - music NFT platform
  • Verto - decentralized exchange

A growing number of NFT marketplaces have also integrated with Arweave including:

This list will continue to grow as the world discovers the power of NFTs and data permanence on Arweave: two innovations that are truly made for each other.

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