Brave may be controversial due to its founder's past and its Brave Rewards cryptocurrency, but the browser does have some neat tricks up its sleeve. As of version 1.19.x, we can add one more feature to Brave's list of capabilities: It now supports the decentralized HTTP(S) alternative IPFS (InterPlanetary File System) that launched in 2015.

In contrast to HTTP(S), IPFS doesn't rely on central servers to pull content from, which allows people to evade censorship and server outages. You can think of the protocol as of torrent files: computers are nodes living in a peer-to-peer network, with each distributing its copy of the content. If one node fails, another can jump in, and as long as there's a single node left, content can't be taken down. IPFS also doesn't rely on DNS (Domain Name Servers), making it even more resilient against attacks or outages. You can read more about the protocol on the IPFS website.

When you first visit an IPFS address on Brave, like the Vincent Van Gogh Wikipedia site below, the browser will load the URI via a public HTTP gateway first.


Below the address bar, Brave will display an infobar asking you if you'd like to use a local node to load the IPFS website instead. When you opt in, your browser itself becomes a temporary host of the content you're viewing, bringing with it some privacy implications (other IPFS nodes can see requests you make and content you serve). You'll be able to mitigate that with Brave's Tor mode in the future, though right now, the privacy implications are a reason why IPFS doesn't work in Incognito or Tor mode yet.

IPFS is only supported on the desktop version of Brave at the moment, but the developers have already committed to bringing IPFS to Android next. Read more about their plans in the company's announcement.