TL; DR: AXEL strives to give users full control over their digital assets with a decentralized file management solution that cuts out the middleman. The company’s fast, reliable, and censorship-resistant interplanetary file system, AXEL GO, helps Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android users around the world access and manage files using the power of blockchain. Ultimately, the company’s goal is to set trends in transparent, trustless infrastructure that provides user agency over file management.
Reading the fine print may be crucial when entering into a legal agreement, but no one does — because it’s nearly impossible.
According to the Guardian, it would take the average American almost 250 hours a year, or more than 10 days, to read the digital contracts we accept on a regular basis.
To poke fun at this unspoken truth on April Fool’s Day 2010, former UK retailer GameStation added a clause to its license agreement that granted the company “a nontransferable option to claim, for now and forevermore, your immortal soul.”
“Of course, it was just a joke, but it goes to show that you don’t really know what you’re giving up when you agree to these contracts,” said Darr Kadlubowski, Social Media & Marketing Director at AXEL. “For instance, Google Drive and Dropbox are both great services, but every time you sign up, you get an 80-page service agreement.”
At the end of the day, Darr said he doesn’t believe Google would go through every single item he could upload to Google Drive, but the company has the ability to do so if it wanted. “I’d rather have a service where no matter how badly Google wants to spy on me, they simply can’t, because the product doesn’t allow it,” he said.
AXEL GO, a private, decentralized, censorship-resistant file-sharing platform, was built and launched in 2012 to satisfy that need. The file management tool is centered on user agency, allowing individuals to regain control of their data by cutting out the middleman. Ultimately, the company’s goal is to become the go-to solution for those who value privacy and want to manage their digital assets on their own terms.
Providing User Agency Over File Management Solutions
AXEL got its start in 2012 as CloudLocker, a physical, private cloud storage device funded by Indiegogo that leveraged the power of the cloud. The next evolution of that technology led to StoAmigo, a service that provided access to a private cloud through a personal storage locker.
“The big issue then was cloud data breaches,” Darr said. “We recognized that people wanted convenience more than anything else, even if it required sacrificing privacy. But our whole goal was to build products that give people convenience without making them sacrifice their privacy in the process.”
In 2018, StoAmigo was rebranded to AXEL with a new focus on leveraging blockchain to provide user agency over the file management process. The core philosophy behind such decentralized systems is the notion of transparency and ownership of one’s assets.
“People had really lost custody of their data,” Darr said. “Web 1.0 was made up of rough, blog-like sites from individual people. But as the web’s infrastructure became more complex, individuals became subservient to hosting services and WordPress, where they have to agree to third-party terms and conditions.”
The Axel team, based in Las Vegas with team members throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, is providing an alternative option in AXEL GO. “AXEL has been at the forefront of data privacy and custody from the start,” Darr said. “We believe that data should belong to its creators.”
A Private, Reliable, and Censorship-Resistant IPFS
AXEL GO is exceptionally fast, efficient, and powerful due to its interplanetary file system (IPFS), a peer-to-peer distributed network. Unlike HTTP, in which files are stored and downloaded from one centralized location, IPFS files can be stored and downloaded from multiple computers and locations. Because the encrypted data is available on various servers, IPFS networks are more resilient and secure.
With AXEL GO, content creators, web developers, and designers can convert their website to IPFS easily and cost-effectively. The IPFS content distribution network has a file management system built into it, providing a better, faster way to store and share content.
“AXEL GO integrates with our blockchain and IPFS platform so you can pin a file to the IPFS platform (essentially, you’re uploading it), it shreds the file, and then it spreads over the network,” Darr said. “Then, wherever that file is being accessed from, it will actually migrate in pieces over to a node in that area.”
Because the data is split up, an online criminal who hacks into one master node or one server cannot steal data. Sound intriguing? Currently, Darr said users who download and sign up for AXEL GO will receive free AXEL Tokens to get started. “Two tokens provide a ton of file sharing,” Darr said. “As we grow, we’ll look at plans for consumer and enterprise-level users.”
From the perspective of enterprise users, Darr said the experience will be akin to creating a website that is being hosted down the street from every person in the world. This makes the network extraordinarily resilient and censorship-resistant.
“Your website can’t go down,” he said. “Unless you could take down 2,500 servers in hundreds of countries at the same time, there’s no way you could take files off the network. It’s secure in terms of censorship, not being hackable, and in terms of not going down due to outages.”
As an example of why people should use IPFS, Darr referenced the global Cloudflare outage in July of this year, which resulted in visitors to related domains being shown 502 errors.
“You don’t want to rely on your USB drive not falling out of your pocket or put your trust in Google Drive,” he said. “You put your files onIPFS, and they are essentially guaranteed to be there when you need them. You can even distribute copies to everyone in the room by just giving them the link.”
Setting Trends in Transparent, Trustless Infrastructure
AXEL GO is undoubtedly faster due to its IPFS technology, but Darr said the platform is about so much more than speed.
“It’s really about doing data in a different way where we’re giving back control to that individual,” he said. “We’re a good company, but that doesn’t matter. Because of the encryption and blockchain aspect, we’re creating a system where you don’t have to trust us with your privacy.”
Blockchain’s immutable nature means that AXEL GO could be used for everything from providing an individual who has transferred a property deed to storing proof of purchases for warranties. “There are hundreds of thousands of use cases where you want that true 100% indisputable proof that something occurred at a specific time,” Darr said.
As for what the future holds, Darr said AXEL bases its ongoing product development on feedback from its user base. That said, the company is also in the business of setting trends.
“IPFS is an extremely new technology — maybe 0.11% of people even have a concept of what it does,” he said. “While most businesses react to problems customers are having, we try to look for problems that people haven’t even recognized yet and find solutions for them ahead of time.”