What is the permaweb?

The next step in the internet’s evolution will be the adoption of the permaweb.

What is the permaweb? The permaweb stands for the permanent web, a collection of all the webpages, apps, and files stored on top of the Arweave network. It is similar in feel and use of the current internet except that everything uploaded to it remains permanent and cannot be deleted.

Let’s take a closer look at how the permaweb came to be and what it offers.

Why do we need a permaweb?

A common misconception about the internet is that all the information and web pages it stores are stable. In other words, anything new to the internet only adds to the existing content that always remains intact.

This is actually far from the truth! The internet has an extremely high turnover of information, and much of it disappears or simply goes missing every day. The web is anything but static and would better be described as fluid.

As our economies have turned into information economies this is a troubling foundation to build on. Obviously, this is not a problem for all forms of content as some of what is put on the internet is superfluous. However, on the whole, the problem of data storage is highly relevant to everyone’s life and business.

Furthermore, as data has become the key commodity both in a public and private sphere, it benefits us to think about the best way to store data reliability for long periods of time.

Enter Arweave and the permaweb.

What is the permaweb?

To solve the problem of long-term data storage Arweave came up with the permaweb.

The permaweb sits on top of the Arweave network, which makes data storage last for hundreds of years. With a few technological innovations (we will get to later), Arweave leveraged blockchain technology to create long-term data storage — for 200 years, but probably much longer — for any type of file.

An aspect of creating this long-term storage was to not only save the file itself but give each of these files an unchangeable URL address. Therefore, with each file having a URL a permanent web of documents, photos, videos, and transactions has been created that acts like the internet that we already know.

Arweave defines the permaweb this way:

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 long periods of time.

More technically, the permaweb is the layer built on top of Arweave’s global permanent hard drive and gateways. This is similar to the way Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) — the web as we know it — sits on top of the TCP/IP network.

In sum, the permaweb is all the connected sites, applications, photos, videos, and all types of files that sit on top of the Arweave network, with each of those given a unique URL address.

To put this into focus and help understand, let’s look at how a typical file would get onto the permaweb.

The journey of a file onto the permaweb

The Arweave blockchain is file agnostic, meaning that it supports any type of file — doc, jpeg, pdf, etc.

When you upload any of these files onto the permaweb they are given a URL (or more technically, a URI) address.

For example, take this historical picture of a parade in England. When upload to the permaweb through ArDrive we can now see the URL address that is given to it:

The first thing you notice is that both URLs above are really long and ugly. This is one of the reasons that ArNS (Arweave Name Service) was created: to give the permaweb the kind of nice, short URLs we are used to.

With ArNS we created a new address — — that points to this photo so it can be easily put into a browser or shared with friends.

Finally, with the ViewBlock explorer and the data transaction for this file, you can check out all of the stats about this particular file we uploaded to Arweave.

When I copy the data transaction from ArDrive and put it into ViewBlock I learn things such as:

  • Time Stamp: The file was added on September, 27 2022 at 04:46:51 PM

  • Confirmations in the network that it exists: 89,000

  • Content type: jpeg

  • Size: 3.2 MiB

  • URL

Now, you can do this with more than just files — you can host an entire website on the permaweb, or even run applications off of it, or even, because the data is permanent, build applications that were not possible without it.

And, of course, you can always download the file in the manner you uploaded it to the network, because the actual file is on the blockchain in addition to the URL that has been created.

The permaweb has a tremendous amount of potential for:

  • Academics hosting static sites and research — even if their funding dries up

  • Public data

  • Legal data

  • Financial transactions

  • Application hosting

As well, in the example above we were dealing with public data that anyone can view. What if I want to put something private on the permaweb? Is it possible?

Is the permaweb all public data? Can you have private data?

Private data on the public blockchain is possible with apps like ArDrive that will encrypt any data.

The data will still be given a URL but only the person with the keys or those whom they are shared with will be able to access the data.

Under the hood: What makes the permaweb possible?

The permaweb is made possible by two protocols: the Arweave blockchain and gateways.

  • Arweave blockweave (blockchain): The blockweave is the decentralized miner nodes spread out over the world that stores and replicates all of the data uploaded to Arweave.

  • Gateways — gateways are infrastructure utilities that sit above the base storage layer and allow users to access and query the information stored on Arweave. They are specialized nodes responsible for data retrieval, caching, and serving as well as indexing transactions into a queryable database.

Both of these protocols are decentralized and incentivized by their tokens:

  • The Arweave token (AR) incentives the storage of the data.

  • AR.IO (IO) incentives the access and querying of the data to the user.

What can you do on the permaweb?

The applications and use of the permaweb are still in their infancy. Many uses and applications are coming into their own and look to increase user adoption to the capabilities of the permaweb.


A thriving ecosystem of applications is being built on the permaweb for the average person to be able to make use of permanent data:

A growing number of applications are also integrating with Arweave and and, one day, this will lead to the permaweb becoming a household name.