How it works
When one wishes to participate in the SAFE Network as an End User, one will download and install the SAFE Network Client on their computer or other device. If one also wished to participate as a Farmer by contributing computer resources and earning safecoins, one will also install the full Vault software and configure it using the SAFE Client.
After joining and signing in to the SAFE Network, the User can see a new virtual mounted drive on their system. This will appear much the same as a hard drive installed on their local machine with a file system showing what is stored there. It is called a "virtual mounted drive" because all the data in it is actually stored on the SAFE Network, rather than locally. Selecting this drive displays a representation of the Users static data that has been encrypted and distributed around other Vaults on the network.
The User can also deal with dynamic data, such as communications through a VoIP application.
Before data is stored on the SAFE Network, it is automatically encrypted. The self-encryption process involves breaking up file data into small chunks and then encrypting each chunk by a process which includes cryptographic inputs from other chunks of the file (process detailed in next section). This means that if anyone wanted to see the data they would need the map created as part of the encryption process. None of this information is held on third-party systems or servers.
Typically the User connects to the network through a router. The SAFE Network uses a combination of routing protocols in a way which enables data to travel through any router without being corrupted or intercepted.
A Vault connects to other Vaults as part of the storage and management of data. The Vaults are constantly checked and ranked (by the DataManager personas of connected Vaults) using the following criteria:
- Availability - how often the Vault is on or off
- Storage - how much storage space is in the Vault
- CPU - how much CPU resource the Vault has available
- Bandwidth - how fast or slow the access is to the Vault
As demand and resources on the SAFE Network change, the Vaults adapt and continually balance the load of the network. This adjustment process is done automatically by the Vaults themselves. As the SAFE Network is completely autonomous, it can react quickly and without the need for any human intervention.
Safecoins are required to access services on the network. Users acquire safecoins by contributing to the network as a Farmer, App Builder or Core Developer (as covered in the "How To Use It" section ), or by acquiring them from another user directly or by way of an exchange. Users can see how many safecoins they have by looking at their wallet. The wallet is automatically set up and configured as part of the SAFE Network Client installation and account initiation process.