How does the Arweave Tech work?

Arweave: a zero to one change

In tech circles, a zero to one invention is creating something that is unlike anything that has gone before it. And that is what permanent data storage is – something that is unlike anything that has gone before it.

Arweave offers two things that are unlike anything else on the internet today:

  • Permanent File Storage – This is the ability to save any type file onto the Arweave network – documents, mp3s, pdfs, movies, digital art, and more.
  • The Permaweb – this is the ability to save webpages permanently that are indexed and searchable. As Arweave puts it:

The permaweb looks just like the normal web, but all of its content – from images to full web apps – is permanent, retrieved quickly, and decentralized – forever. Just as the first web connected people over vast distances, the permaweb connects people over extremely long periods of time.

So how did they create permanent storage and the permaweb from the blockchain?

Arweave managed to create storage based on two components:

  • a technical component that turned a blockchain into a blockweave
  • an economic component that created an endowment that would cover the costs of future storage

Before focusing on the economic component, which we’ll cover in the next topic, let’s first look at the technical side.


The Blockweave

The major technological breakthrough was the Arweave team took the blockchain and made a blockweave out of it – what do we mean by this?

Arweave reimagined the chain so instead of having to verify every piece of data in the database (like Bitcoin), only a random piece of data needs to be verified before a new piece can be added. So instead of a chain of data it looks more like a weave or 3D spider web of data.

Because less information needs to be verified this modification dramatically reduced the amount of energy needed to run the blockweave. Instead of wasting a bunch of energy verifying the data (again, like Bitcoin), the blockweave is able to efficiently store data – a lot of data! The weave will be able to store Petabytes of data in cost-efficient ways while a blockchain like Bitcoin can't manage 400 MB yet (not very much).

Finally, the blockweave kept the immutable (unchanging) nature of the blockchain.  All data put into the blockweave stays in the blockweave. Once it is there it cannot be deleted. This does not mean that all the information on the blockweave is necessarily public, but that the information simply cannot be removed.

As with other blockchain technology, there is a continual verification of data when new data is uploaded in the network to confirm that all the data is present and accurate.

Quote Marks

There will be more than 5,670 validations of your data transaction every day going forward. That means the integrity of your data will be checked once ever 14.4 seconds. This is the highest level of data validation currently available.  –Sam Williams, Founder of Arweave

🔬 For an in-depth description of Arweave please read our full-length article:  'Can data really be saved permanently?'

🧠 Technical people can dive into the original yellow paper by Arweave

Now let's have a look at the economic innovation of Arweave.


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