I want to check provided string is a valid IPFS or IPNS path or not under ipfs domain.

For example when I do:

ipfs ls <invalid-hash>
//waits keep searching ... 

This will not return anything but halts within the program, so I would need to wait not knowing given hash is valid or not.

I could wait N-seconds as a threshold for ipfs to return results for ipfs cat valid-hash, ipfs ls valid-hash but results of ipfs cat valid-hash or ipfs ls valid-hash may take longer than N-seconds, which is not trustable to rely on.

[~]$ ipfs cat <hash-id that exists in the ipfs domain>
//returns a results maybe after 10 minutes if the hash-id string is valid.

[~]$ ipfs cat <hash-id that does not exists in the ipfs domain>
//HALTS. and does not return me that hash-id is invalid.

I have used: https://github.com/xicombd/is-ipfs but an invalid-hash string that I am giving into functions returns true, so it does not work properly on my side, any advice?

For example: (I am running commands inside node app.)

[$] node 
const isIPFS = require('is-ipfs')
> isIPFS.multihash('QmYooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooaoooooooooo')
true //returns true but it is an invalid ipfs hash that does not exist in the ipfs domain and should have returned false.

Thank you for your valuable time and help.

  • I am not sure exactly what you are asking for here. How would you know that your hash string is invalid? Seems like you are looking for a way to reverse a hashing function
    – MrChico
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 10:35
  • Hello Sir, thank you for your response, when I run ipfs add -r somefile.txt this would return added <hash_id> somefile.txt. And later I can do this: ipfs cat <hash_id>. But if I give some random hash_id that is not exist in the ipfs domain: ipfs cat <some_hash_id> will enter into while() and halts. This will not return me that that ipfs hash_id exists in the ipfs domain. So there is no way I can know that is the entered hash_id points to a allocated memory.
    – alper
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 10:53
  • Before running ipfs cat <hash_id> or ipfs ls <hash_id>; I want to know that; does <hash_id> string is valid and exist in the ipfs domain so it will be okay for me to wait ipfs {cat | ls} ’s response even it takes a long time.
    – alper
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 10:54
  • 2
    IPFS is a decentralized system, there is no central domain where you can do a lookup to find your hash. When looking up files, you're asking the network to find nodes storing the content behind a unique hash. You cannot know whether it exists beforehand
    – MrChico
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 13:22
  • 1
    Because hash functions are one way functions that output a random-looking string of a set length. With a good hash function, the likelihood of two different inputs generating the same output is extremely low. Check out collision resistance here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptographic_hash_function
    – MrChico
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 12:48

2 Answers 2


There is really no way you can do what you want. If you think about it some more and take into account the architecture of a distributed p2p system such as IPFS - the definition of being "valid" or "existent" is not really that obvious.

If you ask IPFS for a file matching a given hash - it walks through a set of available nodes in the network trying to find the one that has the file available. But if it can not find none - it can be for various reasons. For unpopular content that is not cached by many nodes and only few nodes pin it, there is a chance that the node publishing this file is simply down at this particular moment.

As you described - you can try timeouts - but they can give you false negatives.

What you can do though is you can use IPNS to name a file (to be more precise - the hash of a file) and use the name to navigate to it. Of course you can break it if you publish the wrong hash but it is easy to avoid by automating adding a file to IPFS and naming it in IPNS.


You may look the implementation of Martin "Mr Chico" Lundfall


I'm copying an extract of the README

# verifyIPFS
Smart contract library functions for recreating the hash of an ipfs object given its content.

## Usage
Add the data file to IPFS:

ipfs add testfile -q

Will return:


Now try the same thing with the `generateHash`-function:

(truffle console)

truffle(default)> fs = require('fs')
truffle(default)> var verify; verifyIPFS.new().then(a => {verify = a})
truffle(default)> var testfile = fs.readFileSync('./testfile').toString()
truffle(default)> verify.generateHash(testfile).then(a => {console.log(web3.toAscii(a))})


  • 1
    This is not the correct approach. It does not verify that given ipfs hash-id exist in the ipfs domain or not. On read me it talks about that: "verifyHash takes a string and an IPFS-hash, and returns true if they match".
    – alper
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 6:40

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