# InterPlanetary Name System (IPNS)

IPFS uses content-based addressing; it creates an address of a file based on data contained within the file. If you were to share an IPFS address such as /ipfs/QmbezGequPwcsWo8UL4wDF6a8hYwM1hmbzYv2mnKkEWaUp with someone, you would need to give the person a new link every time you update the content.

The InterPlanetary Name System (IPNS) solves this issue by creating an address that can be updated.

A name in IPNS is the hash of a public key. It is associated with a record containing information about the hash it links to that is signed by the corresponding private key. New records can be signed and published at any time.

When looking up an IPNS address, use the /ipns/ prefix:


# Example IPNS Setup with CLI

  1. Start your IPFS daemon, if it isn't already running:

    ipfs daemon
  2. Create the file that you want to set up with IPNS. For the tutorial, we're just going to create a simple hello world file:

    echo "Hello, world!" > hello.txt
  3. Add your file to IPFS:

    ipfs add hello.txt
    > added QmaMLRsvmDRCezZe2iebcKWtEzKNjBaQfwcu7mcpdm8eY2 hello.txt
    > 13 B / 13 B [===================================================================] 100.00%

    Take note of the Qm hash output by IPFS.

  4. Use cat and the Qm hash you just got from IPFS to view the file again:

    ipfs cat QmaMLRsvmDRCezZe2iebcKWtEzKNjBaQfwcu7mcpdm8eY2
    > Hello, world!
  5. Publish your Qm hash to IPNS:

    ipfs name publish /ipfs/QmaMLRsvmDRCezZe2iebcKWtEzKNjBaQfwcu7mcpdm8eY2
    > Published to k51qzi5uqu5dkkciu33khkzbcmxtyhn376i1e83tya8kuy7z9euedzyr5nhoew: /ipfs/QmaMLRsvmDRCezZe2iebcKWtEzKNjBaQfwcu7mcpdm8eY2

    k51... is the key of your IPFS installation.

  6. You can view your file by going to https://gateway.ipfs.io/ipns/k51qzi5uqu5dkkciu33khkzbcmxtyhn376i1e83tya8kuy7z9euedzyr5nhoew:

    curl https://gateway.ipfs.io/ipns/k51qzi5uqu5dkkciu33khkzbcmxtyhn376i1e83tya8kuy7z9euedzyr5nhoew
    > Hello, world!
  7. Make a change to your file, add it to IPFS, and update your IPNS:

    echo "Hello IPFS!" > hello.txt
    ipfs add hello.txt
    > added QmUVTKsrYJpaxUT7dr9FpKq6AoKHhEM7eG1ZHGL56haKLG hello.txt
    > 11 B / 11 B [=============================================================================================] 100.00%
    ipfs name publish QmUVTKsrYJpaxUT7dr9FpKq6AoKHhEM7eG1ZHGL56haKLG
    > Published to k51qzi5uqu5dkkciu33khkzbcmxtyhn376i1e83tya8kuy7z9euedzyr5nhoew: /ipfs/QmUVTKsrYJpaxUT7dr9FpKq6AoKHhEM7eG1ZHGL56haKLG
  8. You can now go back to https://gateway.ipfs.io/ipns/k51qzi5uqu5dkkciu33khkzbcmxtyhn376i1e83tya8kuy7z9euedzyr5nhoew to view your updated file using the same address:

    curl https://gateway.ipfs.io/ipns/k51qzi5uqu5dkkciu33khkzbcmxtyhn376i1e83tya8kuy7z9euedzyr5nhoew
    > Hello IPFS!

You can view the Qm hash of the file associated with your k5 key by using name resolve:

ipfs name resolve

> /ipfs/QmUVTKsrYJpaxUT7dr9FpKq6AoKHhEM7eG1ZHGL56haKLG

To use a different k5 key, first create one using key gen test, and use the --key flag when calling name publish:

ipfs key gen SecondKey

> k51qzi5uqu5dh5kbbff1ucw3ksphpy3vxx4en4dbtfh90pvw4mzd8nfm5r5fnl

ipfs name publish --key=SecondKey /ipfs/QmUVTKsrYJpaxUT7dr9FpKq6AoKHhEM7eG1ZHGL56haKLG

> Published to k51qzi5uqu5dh5kbbff1ucw3ksphpy3vxx4en4dbtfh90pvw4mzd8nfm5r5fnl: /ipfs/QmUVTKsrYJpaxUT7dr9FpKq6AoKHhEM7eG1ZHGL56haKLG

# Example IPNS Setup with JS SDK API

Imagine you want to publish your website under IPFS. You can use the Files API to publish your static website, and then you'll get a CID you can link to. But when you need to make a change, a problem arises: you get a new CID because you now have different content. And it is not possible for you to be always giving others a new address.

Here's where the Name API comes in handy. With it, you can create a single, stable IPNS address that points to the CID for the latest version of your website.

// The address of your files.
const addr = '/ipfs/QmbezGequPwcsWo8UL4wDF6a8hYwM1hmbzYv2mnKkEWaUp'

ipfs.name.publish(addr).then(function (res) {
  // You now receive a res which contains two fields:
  //   - name: the name under which the content was published.
  //   - value: the "real" address to which Name points.

In the same way, you can republish a new version of your website under the same address. By default, ipfs.name.publish will use the Peer ID.

# Alternatives to IPNS

IPNS is not the only way to create mutable addresses on IPFS. You can also use DNSLink, which is currently much faster than IPNS and also uses human-readable names. Other community members are exploring ways to use blockchains to store common name records.