Image Options for NFTs: IPFS Hosting vs. On-Chain Images

Technology 07.08.2023

Hosting Options for NFTs: IPFS vs. On-Chain Images

Traditionally, the go-to approach has involved adding an NFT image through an IPFS link, but is this avenue the sole choice? Let's explore what the other option, on-chain images, brings as a benefit and what should be considered.

IPFS Hosting: Adaptability

The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a decentralized file storage, inviting creators to venture into off-chain hosting and keeping images linked with IPFS link to NFT metadata smooth display of the NFT image. What would be NFTs without an image, right?


  • Decentralization: IPFS does its thing by spreading your images across a network of nodes, creating a safety net to ensure they should always be accessible, no matter what.

  • Streamlined Efficiency: By housing your images off-chain, the metadata on the blockchain remains light.

  • Easy Updates and Artistic Freedom: Imagine this – you want to give your art a makeover. IPFS lets you update your images by simply reuploading the images to the existing links.

  • Image Quality: Feel free to go big with high-res images. Since the images are saved off-chain there are no limits, you can add any file or image resolution and quality you like.


  • IPFS's Stabilit: While IPFS is designed for long-term durability, consideration of the protocol's stability and potential future shifts is necessary. Changes to the IPFS protocol could potentially impact the accessibility of linked images over time.

  • Dependency on IPFS Links: The unity of an NFT is connected with the availability of the IPFS link. Any disruptions or modifications to this link may bring consequences for the visual representation of the NFT.

On-Chain Image Embedding

In contrast, the approach of embedding images directly within the Cardano blockchain itself offers a unique way for ensuring the longevity and integrity of NFT images.


  • Everlasting Storage: Embedding images on-chain renders them an forever part of the NFT's metadata (unless it's changed before the policy ID locks), guaranteeing their availability and endurance till the blockchain exists.

  • Security and Immunity: The storage of images directly on the Cardano blockchain inherits the blockchain security and immutability. This approach reduces concerns related to potential link breakage and ensures that the images remain unaltered and tamper-proof.

  • Simplicity: NFTs with on-chain images avoid the cons associated with external resources such as IPFS links. In this scenario, the entirety of the NFT, including the image, are forever within the native Cardano NFT ecosystem.


  • Limits on Image Complexity: On-chain images are influenced by the blockchain's technical limitations meaning they usually can't have large resolution and image size. Which makes the on-chain method better suited for simpler and smaller images, aligning exceptionally well with pixel art since it's usually more compact in size.

  • Blockchain Safety and Endurance: While the Cardano blockchain has robust security measures and a commitment to ongoing development, it's good to keep in mind the NFTs including the image are fixed to the blockchain.

IPFS Safety and Longevity:

While IPFS presents a great solution for image hosting, thinking about its safety and long-term existence is essential. The decentralized nature of IPFS, along with its reliance on distributed nodes, contributes to the durability of stored data. However, potential changes in protocol standards, the availability of nodes, and the necessity of a sustainable incentive model have to be thought of.


In the end, it's all about options. IPFS brings a decentralized and efficient hosting solution that allows for creative expression and optimizing image quality. On the flip side, on-chain images promise everlasting image availability and the security of the blockchain. However, they are limited to smaller, simpler images, especially pixel art.

Both IPFS hosting and on-chain images offer great ways to include images in NFTs. It comes down to personal preference and belief in what suits your needs best!