Sia Renting FAQs

Common questions and answers related to renting on Sia.


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

Allowance and Contracts

How do I change my allowance?

You can click on Create Allowance and enter your new allowance. It will look like you're creating a new allowance, but it will actually change your existing allowance to whatever you set.

Why do I see a bunch of small transactions taken from my 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, end my contracts, or cancel my allowance?

Type renter allowance cancel into the Terminal. 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 last 3 weeks of your contract period, by the default contract renewal settings (i.e. the last 3 weeks 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, though this is more advanced than simply using the Create Allowance button.

Type renter setallowance -h into the Terminal. This will explain how to manually set all of the items mentioned. As an example, if we want to start renting with a 1000 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 1000SC 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 the 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 Sia 1.3.1 by uploading a folder of several large video files (~15 GB each, ~400 GB total). Eventually our uploads stalled as described in the topic below, we quit Sia by allowing it to shut down properly, and then when we re-opened Sia we instantly had about 40 more contracts than what Sia reported we had before we shut down, and our allowance was completely eaten up by contract fees. We increased our allowance, and Sia kept creating more contracts. Eventually the contract count stopped increasing, but new contract fees kept being deducted from our allowance. Our files still seemed to be stuck, and it seemed that the infinite new contracts were going to keep eating up our allowance.

The only way we were able to resolve the issue was unfortunately to kill the entire rental setup and allowance by typing renter allowance cancel into the Terminal, which resulted in the immediate loss of access to the files we uploaded, as well as the loss of all Siacoins spent up to that point. It's possible that this issue was caused by uploading a folder of several files at once, instead of uploading the files individually and waiting for each one to complete, but we have yet to test this theory. Other renters have reported that excessive contracts have been created in their use of Sia too. The files we used were only test files, but this is obviously concerning nonetheless and is a great example that Sia is still a product in development and should not be used for critical data. We made the development team aware of our issue, but initial reports for Sia v1.3.2 indicate the issue still exists. We'll update this topic when we believe the issue may be solved.

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 a Renting Calculator 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?

Sia is still in development, so the UI you see now will likely not be the final version of the product. UI improvements have been promised for some time, and are likely to be released in the next few months. Other features like being able to share files with other users are also planned. Keep in mind, however, 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 products currently integrated with Sia that might make storing data easier for your particular use case. Visit our External Links to view some of the 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 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 upload?

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 redundancy 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.

If hosts go offline, do I need to do anything for my files to be safe?

Yes. Your files will be repaired automatically, or redundancy restored, as long as there are still at least 10 hosts with your file. 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.

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

Watch your Siacoin allowance over a period of about an hour, and make sure your uploads aren't moving and Siacoins aren't being deducted. Sometimes upload progress is hard to see, and sometimes uploads bog down for 10-15 minutes.

If you're sure that your uploads have stalled, about the only thing you can do is restart Sia by completely exiting it and opening it back up again. Make sure you completely exit Sia - if you simply close the Sia-UI window, Sia still runs in the background and via a system tray icon. Right click the icon and select Quit Sia, wait a few minutes, and then open Sia again and see if your uploads resume. Only do this if you're certain your uploads have stalled, because we've found that quitting Sia while uploading may sometimes cause several new contracts to be created when we open Sia again, which eats up Siacoins and our allowance quickly due to contract fees.

Downloading

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 local data files that contain your renter contract and file metadata. A current limitation of Sia is that the internal data files are required to retrieve files from the Sia network. Without these files, you will lose access to your data on the network. If you're renting storage on Sia, you should also back these files up separately and outside of Sia so that you can use them to access your data in the event your computer crashes or you encounter any other issues.

A further complication is that these files are only valid if you back them up after you last uploaded or downloaded any data from Sia. Any time you interact with the Sia network, you need to back up your metadata files again afterwards. For this reason, Sia is only recommended for cold storage at this time.

This limitation will likely be removed in the future with the introduction of file sharing, but for now it's an important detail to be aware of because most users assume data stored on the Sia network is safe and can be retrieved from anywhere like any other type of cloud service by just downloading Sia again, when this is not necessarily the case.

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.

At this time, there's no method of sharing files directly from or on the Sia network with other users, so any illegally uploaded content would only be accessible to a 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.

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.


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