How Are Nfts Stored?

When it comes to the movement of digital media, NFTs are fast becoming standard practice. Anyone can make an NFT and it’s easy to purchase them through the many marketplaces and blockchain games. NFTs are created by assigning unique metadata to digital media, which enter into smart contracts to prove ownership. However, NFTs aren’t always stored fairly, which means some NFT collectors may only own partial URLs and IDs. If you invest in NFTs, it’s worthwhile learning about how they are stored – continue reading to find out more.

Core Tech Components of NFTs

Before understanding NFT storage, it’s important to have a grasp on common NFT terminology including:

  • Smart contracts. This is the blockchain element of NFTs. These encoded instructions manage the entire decentralised infrastructure, including NFT minting and exchanging.
  • Metadata. This is used to describe data. In NFTs, it’s used to describe its colour, shape, and other details.
  • Server. Servers are just computers. However, they’re extremely powerful and can manage countless operations simultaneously.
  • Hash. Hash is a crypto function responsible for storing information. If set up properly, a hash will always release the same information.
  • Hosting. Every piece of digital information is hosted on a server, including NFTs.

Off-Chain Vs. On-Chain


When an NFT exists on-chain, every piece of information exists on the blockchain. Alternatively, off-chain NFTs can be stored outside of the blockchain. However, the majority of people favour on-chain storage because it helps to verify all parts of the NFT. That being said, there are plenty of NFT projects that do store off-chain. For example, Autoglyphs is a collection of JPEGs – we’re talking thousands. Considering JPEGs are large files, they’re stored off-chain for ease.

When NFTs are stored off-chain, they’re still available to buy through an NFT marketplace. The only difference is that any personal details attached to the NFT are kept secure and disconnected from would-be criminals.

Decentralised Vs. Centralised Hosting


Whether an NFT is stored off-chain or on-chain, the smart contract will contain details for where the original file is stored. Typically, the metadata and NFT are stored using a hash, which contains information stating whether the image is stored decentralised or centralised.

A centralised storage solution would be the likes of Google or Amazon, which operate cloud storage solutions. However, there is always a risk – no matter how small – that the system could crash, and the data be erased. If this happens, the owner of the NFT has lost their digital asset for good. All that would remain is a smart contract containing a digital code.

To avoid this risk, the majority of NFT creators store their digital media on decentralised hosting providers. For example, InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) stores data across countless nodes, which makes breaches and attacks much more difficult.

Take Home

NFTs are pieces of digital media attached to a smart contract, which exists on the blockchain. The actual media can be stored on-chain or off-chain, and this dictates what information an NFT buyer has acquired. Before paying for any NFTs, make sure you’re 100% sure you know what you’re buying – you don’t want to own half a URL.