Distributed Back-up Systems


I've been interested in distributed back-up systems for some time. For example, I'd love to see a P2P client given to BYU students that allows them to commit a percentage of their disk to a distributed back-up system in exchange for that much storage on the overall system. Rather than the University having to commit capital to a back-up system for students files, excess direct-attached disk and software would solve the problem.

I've also be enamored with erasure codes for reliability. Using erasure codes would allow the distributed back-up network to provide reliable storage in the face of a certain percentage of nodes going down, leaving the network for some reason, and so forth.

A couple of students in my Middleware class this semester picked this theme up and did some further exploration. There were a couple of items that caught my eye.

  • PStore is a secure P2P storage solution from some researchers at MIT. Overall, the feature set seems quite nice, but the code is not available and it doesn't incorporate erasure codes as fas as I know.
  • DIBS is a similar idea written in python that does use erasure codes. The UI is something only a geek could love.

Apart from being genuinely useful in a campus environment where its difficult to provide effective back-up solutions for even critical files, this is an excellent example of a P2P network beyond mere "file sharing" which has grown to have negative connotations. I'd love to see the headline "BYU Embraces P2P Technology."