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Sia Renting FAQs

Common questions and answers related to renting on Sia.

Looking for topics related to the Sia-UI and Wallet, Hosting, or Skynet? We also have general information on Renting, a Guide to Renting on Sia, and a Renter Tools for new renters.

This page was last updated on March 4, 2021 with Sia version 1.5.0. Not all FAQ entries may have been updated, but we make an effort to look over each entry and make relevant changes with each update.

Allowance, Contracts, and Spending

How do I see my current Sia renter allowance or how much I've spent as a Sia renter?

Some of your spending information is shown on the Rent tab at the top of the File Manager window. For more details on your allowance and spending, you can click the Terminal (>) icon at the top of the Sia-UI, type renter allowance and press enter. Details on your allowance and spending will be shown. You may need to scroll up a bit to see everything.

How do I change my Sia renting allowance?

You can click on More > Modify Allowance in the File Manager and enter your new total allowance, the same way you created the original allowance. It will look like you're creating a new allowance, but it will actually change your existing allowance to whatever you set.

For example, if you set your original Total Allowance to 3000 SC in the Advanced tab and you want to change your allowance from 3000 SC to 5000 SC, select the Advanced tab again and enter 5000 SC for the Total Allowance.

Why do I see a bunch of small transactions taken from my Sia wallet while renting?

As you create contracts with hosts, a portion of your allowance is removed from your wallet and locked up in an allocation to that host. Since you'll be creating 30+ contracts, you'll see several transactions coming out of your wallet. You may also see transactions when your allowance tops back off after about 6 weeks of renting, when your contracts renew, or if you're uploading or downloading data frequently. Remember that you'll only ultimately be charged for the storage and bandwidth that you actually use, so if you don't actually use all the storage space allocated to you while renting, you'll see some of those Siacoins return to you at the end of the contract.

How do I stop renting on Sia, end my contracts, or cancel my allowance?

In the File Manager, click More > Cancel Allowance. This will immediately cancel your allowance, and your data will be inaccessible. It effectively stops all activity as a renter, because without an allowance, you can't upload or download your files. At the end of your contract period, your contracts can't renew if there's no allowance, so your files will be deleted at that time.

One other way to stop renting is to not open Sia within the renewal window of your contract period (i.e. the last month of your 3 month contract). If Sia isn't open when it needs to renew your contracts, your contracts will eventually expire and your data will be deleted at that point. It's still recommended to cancel your allowance as described above instead of relying on this method.

Can I set a different contract length, number of hosts I form contracts with, or the renewal period for my contracts?

Yes, you can easily do this in the Advanced tab in the Sia-UI when you set your allowance.

You can also set these items using the Terminal, or the Sia command line utility. Type renter setallowance -h, which will explain how to manually set all of the items mentioned. As an example, if we want to start renting with a 3000 SC allowance, a 6 month contract (26 weeks), use the bare minimum of 30 hosts, and we want our contract to renew when we're online within the last 30 days of our current contract, we could type:

renter setallowance 3000SC 26W 30 30D

Note that most hosts by default have their maximum contract length set to 6 months (26 weeks), so trying to create a contract longer than that will likely result in far fewer hosts than keeping your contract length at or below 6 months. You also shouldn't set your number of hosts any lower than 30, because your files will not be sufficiently protected and may never reach full 3x redundancy. Finally, remember that when you upload files, you'll be charged for storing them the entire duration of the contract. If you set a 6 month contract, your storage prices will be twice as high as a 3 month contract, so take that into consideration when you calculate your allowance.

Why do I see that more than 50 contracts (or whatever number of hosts I manually set) have been created?

If Sia finds that a host has gone offline for a while during your contract period, it will automatically find a new host to replace it and create another contract. You might see a few more contracts than the maximum number for this reason. Sia also sometimes creates contracts with hosts it determines are better than your current hosts, even if you've got enough contracts already. If you start seeing significantly more contracts, see this FAQ topic (below).

Sia is creating significantly more contracts than 50, or my allowance is being totally eaten up by contract fees!

This is an issue that we experienced when testing the Sia 1.3.0 series of clients, but it appears to have been resolved in Sia v1.4.0+. If you're experiencing this issue, make sure you've upgraded to the latest version of Sia. One other time we've seen this issue is when you move a renter installation from one computer to another - the two installations may see different hosts and score them differently, so Sia may make new contracts based on the data collected in the new installation.

Storage Pricing

Do prices listed for renting storage on Sia include the cost of 3x redundancy?

Yes - price estimates provided by the Sia client include the required redundancy. Technically hosts will individually charge about 1/3 of the renter price quote becaues they'll only fulfill about 1/3 of your total data storage requirement when taking 3x redundancy into account.

How can I get an estimate of what I'll pay as a renter?

The most accurate way is to type renter prices in the Terminal. This will give you an average set of prices for storage, bandwidth and contracts. This number is unique to your Sia installation because it's basing the prices on hosts your node has actually been in contact with.

We also have Renter Tools that you can use to get an estimate of storage costs based on current network averages.

When I run renter prices, the prices are very high and not similar to what I'd expect.

Make sure Sia is fully synchronized before trying to run renter prices, otherwise it will not find all current hosts. Also, if you can let Sia run for a few hours (ideally, 24 hours) before querying renter prices, you'll have a better picture of current prices because your node will have time to contact many hosts.

Uploading and Data Redundancy

Sia doesn't look very user-friendly for uploading. Are there any other ways to use Sia to store my data that work more similar to Dropbox?

While the Sia user interface has been significantly improved since v1.3.0 days, keep in mind that the end-game use case for Sia is more of an enterprise application similar to Amazon S3, so it's expected that other apps similar to Dropbox would be built upon the Sia network; just not necessarily by the Sia team. You may not even know that an app runs on Sia because it would all be handled in the background.

There are a few third-party products currently integrated with Sia that might make storing data easier for your particular use case, such as:

  • SiaSync - a utility to watch local files or folders and keep them in sync with your Sia storage
  • Repertory - a utility to mount your Sia storage as a local drive, and interact with it more similarly to Dropbox

Visit our External Links to view other third-party applications available. You can also interact with Sia via command line or the API if you're technically saavy and want to write your own scripts or applications to leverage Sia.

Can I specify a different level of redundancy if I want my data on Sia to be more or less secure?

Not currently. This is a planned feature for a future release, but right now by default all uploaded files are distributed to 30 hosts for what amounts to 3x redundancy. Sia may occasionally exceed 3x redundancy on it's own when it thinks hosts have gone offline and they show back up again later, but it is not something you can currently control.

Do I need to keep my files locally after uploading them to Sia?

Technically you don't need to keep a local copy of your file once you upload it, though if you don't it will be more expensive to boost file health if needed because Sia will have to download the file first to reconstruct it before uploading it again. Because upload and download bandwidth carry a fee, this can become expensive.

Also keep in mind that Sia is still in development, and still has occasional bugs. At this time, you should never store critical data only on Sia.

What is Sia renter metadata, and why should I back it up?

Even though your files are uploaded to Sia hosts for storage, the Sia client on your local computer has to maintain additional information on your contracts and files. This information is required in order to access your data on the Sia cloud storage network. Without it, it's like losing the keys to your data - you'd have no way to access everything you've uploaded. You can see why this data might be important!

Fortunately, backing up the metadata is pretty painless, and it can even be backed up directly onto your Sia storage and recovered with your seed. You can also just back it up locally onto a flash drive. Both ways of backing up your Sia renter metadata are explained in detail in Step 6 of our Guide to Renting on Sia. Restoring your metadata from a local backup or your wallet seed is covered in FAQ topics below.

Warning: You must back up your metadata every time you upload new files (or change files) in your Sia storage. Each metadata backup will only be useful for the files that existed in Sia at the time of that backup, as if it were a snapshot of your files at that time. Don't forget to create a backup after each important change.
If Sia hosts go offline, do I need to do anything for my files to be safe?

Yes. Your files will be repaired automatically, or health restored, as long as there are still at least 10 hosts with your file or your file exists locally. You simply need to open the Sia client that you uploaded the files with as a renter, and the client will automatically restore redundancy by redistributing it to hosts as necessary to maintain 3x redundancy. For this reason, it's suggested that you open your Sia client at least once a month for files to be checked and redundancy boosted if needed.

While uploading data as a Sia renter, the UI keeps flashing the "Uploading Files" box every 10 seconds or so. Is everything ok?

Yes - it appears to be a UI bug. We noticed this issue during the last 75% of a file upload while testing v1.4.8. The file continued to upload normally, but the Sia-UI kept flashing the "Uploading Files" box and changing the file's "Last modified" time every 10 to 20 seconds. Once the file upload was complete, the UI returned to normal.

My Sia uploads seem to have stalled, but I've still got plenty of allowance left.

Watch your Siacoin spending over a period of about an hour, and make sure your uploads aren't moving and Siacoins aren't being spent. Sometimes upload progress is hard to see, and sometimes uploads bog down for 10-15 minutes. You can also see if any uploads show as stuck by clicking on the Terminal (>) icon and typing renter, and seeing if any files show as stuck.

If you think you have stuck uploads, the first thing to try is restarting Sia. Right click the Sia icon in the system tray and select Quit, wait a few minutes, and then open Sia again and see if your uploads resume. If that doesn't work, you can try typing renter unstuckall into the Terminal, and this may get them going again.

Downloading and Restoring Files

How do I download files I stored on Sia as a renter?

Easy - just select the file you want to download in the File Manager under the Rent tab, and click the Download icon. You can also select multiple files or folders using the Shift or Control (or OS equivalent) keys. After you click the Download icon, specify where you want the downloaded files to be saved, and Sia will work on downloading them. Files can only be downloaded if they have sufficient health - a file with 0% health cannot be downloaded.

If you're trying to download files on a different computer or Sia installation, see the FAQ topics below for more information on what needs to be done to recover your files.

Can I download my files from Sia on another computer, i.e. if my renter computer crashes?

Yes, but only if you've backed up your Sia metadata first. More information on what this metadata is and how it can be backed up can be found in this FAQ topic. Tip: you should do this sooner rather than later, before it's too late!

If you've backed up this data, you can restore it from a local backup or your wallet seed using the instructions in the FAQ topics below.

How do I restore my Sia files from a local metadata backup?

Restoring your files on another computer will only work if you backed up your metadata to a local source first, as described in this FAQ topic. Your contracts and hosts all still need to be valid and online as well. If so, you can restore your Sia files using a local metadata backup (i.e. a backup on a flash drive) using the following steps:

  1. Install Sia-UI on a new computer - it can be found here.
  2. Load the wallet that you used as a renter using your wallet seed.
  3. Wait for Sia to synchronize, which may take a while. You may want to use our Consensus Download to speed the process up a bit.
  4. Click the About icon (i) > Open Data Folder, and leave the folder open.
  5. Close Sia completely by right-clicking on the icon in the system tray and selecting Quit.
  6. Copy your renter folder backup into Sia's data folder that you just opened, overwriting it if necessary.
  7. Open Sia again. Your files should show up in the Rent tab if your contracts and hosts are all still valid and online.

After you restore the backup, you should also make sure your renting allowance is properly set. You can do this by clicking More > Modify Allowance and verifying that the values are correct and the same as what you originally set. If they're not, or you need more help on setting an allowance, see Step 2 and 3 in our Guide to Renting on Sia.

How do I restore my Sia files from my wallet seed?

Restoring your files on another computer will only work if you backed up your metadata to Sia first using the "Backup Files" option, as described in this FAQ topic. Your contracts and hosts all still need to be valid and online as well. If so, you can restore your Sia files with your wallet seed using the following steps:

  1. Install Sia-UI on a new computer - it can be found here.
  2. Load the wallet that you used as a renter using your wallet seed.
  3. Wait for Sia to synchronize, which may take a while. You may want to use our Consensus Download to speed the process up a bit.
  4. On the Rent tab, click the Restore Files button (or More > Restore Files).
  5. Click Start Recovery Scan and wait. After a bit, your metadata backup should be listed, along with a "Restore" button.
  6. Click the Restore button for the metadata backup you want to use, and your files should show up in the Rent tab if your contracts and hosts are all still valid and online.

After you restore the backup, you should also make sure your renting allowance is properly set. You can do this by clicking More > Modify Allowance and verifying that the values are correct and the same as what you originally set. If they're not, or you need more help on setting an allowance, see Step 2 and 3 in our Guide to Renting on Sia.

Legal and Liability

Please note that the information provided below is for general reference only. It is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any legal concerns, please consult an appropriately qualified attorney or other legal counsel.

Since Sia encrypts and distributes my data, what's to stop me from using Sia to store illegal content?

An honest answer: nothing, really. Being a decentralized platform, there's nobody policing what data is uploaded to the Sia network. This has raised concerns from some users that Sia will inevitably be used to store illegal material of various kinds, which might draw unwanted attention from law enforcement. The Sia developers have said that this should not be an issue in regards to liability of the network or the hosts, that strong legal protections apply to hosts, and that the renter would be responsible for any such use.

As a normal Sia renter, any illegally uploaded content would only be accessible to the renter. Because the renter would be the only one with the key to the file, nobody would know what the renter was storing if they didn't otherwise draw attention to the fact. It would not be advisable to store illegal content on Sia, of course, but the honest answer is that little could be done to prevent it.

With the introduction of the Sia Skynet, users can now share content publicly, as well as upload it unencrypted to Sia hosts. This presents new liability concerns surrounding the usage of Sia, though these concerns primarily center around hosts and Skynet Portal operators. See our discussions on Sia host liability and Skynet Portal operator liability if you're interested in learning more.

Are hosts liable for losing my data? What if more than 20 hosts go offline and I lose my files?

It would be extremely unlikely that the majority of your hosts would go offline during your contract period. Hosts have many incentives to keep them online, including a host score for uptime and a financial incentive in the way of collateral that a host is at risk of losing if they don't complete your contract. For this reason, most hosts will stick around and stay online with your data 24/7. Additionally, if you open your Sia-UI client every month or so, your files will be redistributed if any hosts have disappeared, so this should never be an issue.

If you did end up in the unfortunate situation where you lost enough hosts to be able to restore your files, there's not much you'd be able to do about it. A storage contract from a host basically says "I'll store your files for this duration and this price, or else I'll lose my collateral as a host". The satisfaction of knowing that several hosts would be experiencing a financial penalty for losing your data would probably be the extent of your recourse.

Don't see your question answered? Let us know and we'll see if we can add it to the FAQ.