The real purpose of Filecoin is to store humanity’s most important information. As a storage provider, that means accepting storage deals and storing deal sectors with real data in it. As before, those sectors are either 32GiB or 64GiB in size and require that the data be prepared as a content archive; that is, as a CAR file..
Data preparation, which includes packaging files into size appropriate CAR files, is either done by a separate Data Preparer actor, or by storage providers acting as Data Preparers. The latter option is common for new storage providers, as they normally only have a few files that need preparation.
Data preparation can be done with tools such as Singularity, which is a command-line tool to put data into CAR files, create CIDs (Content ID, see IPFS for more information), and even initiate deals with storage providers.
See the following video for a demonstration on Singularity:
In order for storage providers to accept deals and set their deal terms, they need to install some market software, such as Boost. This component interacts with data owners, accepts deals if they meet the configured requirements, gets a copy of the prepared data (CAR files), and puts it through the sealing pipeline, after which it is in the state required to be proven to the network.
The storage provider can (and should) keep unsealed data copies available for retrieval requests from the client. It is the same software component, Boost, that is responsible for HTTP retrievals from the client and for setting the price for retrievals.
For more information on markets and deals, review the Lotus storage deals page.