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Data redundancy and maintenance in peer-to-peer file backup systems

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The amount of digital data produced by users has grown tremendously over the last decade. These data are very valuable and the need for safe data backup is obvious. Solutions based on DVDs and external hard drives, though very common, are not practical and do not provide the needed level of reliability, while centralized solutions are costly. For this reason the research community has shown an increasing interest in the use of Peer-to-Peer systems for file backup. The key property that makes Peer-to-Peer systems appealing is self-scaling, i.e. as more peers become part of the system the service capacity increases along with the service demand. The design of a Peer-to-Peer file backup system is a complex task and presents a considerable number of challenging problems. Peers can be intermittently connected and can fail at a rate that is considerably higher than in the case of centralized storage systems. My interest focused particularly on how to efficiently provide reliable storage of data applying appropriate redundancy schemes and adopting the right mechanisms to maintain such redundancy. This is not trivial since data maintenance in such systems may require significant resources in terms of storage space and communication bandwidth. These resources are limited, and if not efficiently managed, the total amount of storage the system can safely provide will be significantly reduced. This presentation illustrates the different problems I have tackled, focusing especially on one of my contributions: Hierarchical Codes, a data redundancy scheme efficient in terms of both, storage and communication bandwidth.

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