Sia Hosting Guide

Learn how to rent out your spare storage on the Sia network.


Introduction

Some things to know about hosting storage on the Sia network.

Last Updated August 14, 2020

This guide will help you get set up as a host on the Sia network. The guide is writting using Sia v1.5.0 with examples for Windows. The instructions provided should apply to the Sia-UI on all major operating systems.

Hosting Considerations

There are a few things you may want to know about before committing to being a host on Sia. If you haven't yet, we'd also recommend reading through our Hosting section to learn more about how hosting works and how hosts are scored.

Notice: Sia is still in development. Various hosting issues have been reported that sometimes result in issues like hosts showing as offline or excessive locking of collateral. You also risk losing Siacoins when hosting if something goes wrong, even if it's not your fault, so take this into consideration when deciding to become a host.

Ready to get started? Read on!


Prerequisites

The following items may need to be completed before you can continue.

Prerequisite 1 Recommended

Check Your Host Configuration

While not required, we recommend that you answer the questions on our Host Tools page before you configure hosting if you haven't done so yet. It will tell you if there's a reason you may not want to host based on your particular configuration/resources, and explain why. This will save you the trouble of setting up hosting and possibly losing Siacoins later if you run into issues.

Prerequisite 2 Required

Download the Sia-UI Client and Set Up a Wallet

You must first install the Sia-UI Client, create a wallet, and wait for your client to fully synchronize. If you haven't done this yet, instructions on downloading the Sia-UI Client and setting up a wallet can be found in our Wallet Setup Guide.

Prerequisite 3 Required

Acquire Some Siacoins

You must have some Siacoins to host on Sia. While you can still preconfigure hosting using the Host tab by following the guide below, your host won't be able to actually accept contracts from renters with zero Siacoins. As a host, you're required to post Siacoins as collateral for new contracts, and transactions like announcing your host on the network cost a very small amount of Siacoins (<1 SC).

Instructions on buying Siacoins can be found in our Guide to Buying Siacoins. We recommend that you acquire at least $2 USD in Siacoins for every TB you wish to host every month.

Before you continue, make sure you've taken care of these steps first.


After Prerequisites Are Complete

All set on the prerequisites? Let's get started!

Step 1: Select a Storage Folder Location

Open the Sia-UI and click on the Host tab on the left. This is where you can configure your host settings.

The Host page before we've added a storage folder.

We need to tell Sia where the storage that we wish to rent out actually is on our computer. Click on Add a Folder in the Host window, and you'll be prompted to select a location. You can choose a drive root (i.e. D:\) to use an entire empty drive or part of a drive, or you can pick a specific folder on a drive. Sia will create one large file in the location you select that allocates the amount of storage you choose.

After selecting a folder or drive, you'll be asked how much space you want to allocate.

Sia will ask you how much space you want to allocate to hosting, in megabytes. A slider will be provided which allows you to select an amount between 32 GB and the capacity of your drive. If you try to manually change the number to something lower than 32 GB, you'll see the note shown above regarding the minimum requirement. If you allocate less storage space than renters end up needing, your host score may be lowered as a result. If you have more than 4 TB to rent out, it's best to do so. Also notice that this value is in MB, so 1 TB = 1000000 MB if you're sharing that much space.


Step 2: Set Hosting Prices and Parameters

Once you add a folder, your Host window will change, and your folder will show on the right side under Storage Folders. Host Settings will appear on the left side of the Host window.

All Host Settings as seen in the Sia-UI. Make sure you use current numbers for your Host Settings, and not just the defaults or the ones shown in the image above.

We've tried to simplify these settings for you! Visit our Host Tools page (opens in new window). It will list current average host prices on the Sia network, explain what each one is and why it matters, and provide suggested starting ranges for you to set as a new host. Look at our suggested prices listed under Recommended Host Settings, and then start setting your prices in the Host Settings to match on the right side of the Host window in your Sia-UI.

Once you've set all these values, you can click Update at the top of the Host Settings section to save them. There's no confirmation that your settings were changed, but we can check this later.


Step 3: Forward Ports

Sia requires ports 9981 through 9984 to be open and connectable from outside your network in order for a host to be able to receive contracts and data. If these ports are not open, your host will show as offline, and you won't receive any contracts or make any Siacoins as a host. While some network configurations and routers use Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) to allow port forwarding to occur automatically, in many cases ports will need to be opened and forwarded manually through your router. Additionally, a firewall (either on a network or an individual computer) may also interfere with port forwarding.

Because there are hundreds of models of routers, if not more, it's impossible for us to cover exactly how to forward ports on every single one in detail. The general process typically looks like this:

  1. Log into your router's administration interface.
  2. Assign a static IP or DHCP reservation to the computer serving as your Sia host.
  3. Set up a port forwarding rule to forward ports 9981, 9982, 9983 and 9984 to the Sia computer (or its static/reserved IP).

If you need help configuring your particular router, you can use a site like PortForward.com for detailed instructions (you may see an ad for port forwarding software, which you can skip). You'll need to know your router's manufacturer and model number. Follow the instructions to forward ports 9981-9984 to your Sia host computer.


Step 4: Set Up Dynamic DNS (DDNS) Optional Recommended

Most residential Internet services assign subscribers a dynamic public IP address which may change at a set duration, or when rebooting your Internet modem. This can be a problem because when running a service like a Sia host, other clients (i.e. renters) find you by your public IP address. If it changes regularly, renters will lose track of you and your host will show as offline. You can mitigate this issue by signing up for a Dynamic DNS (DDNS) service. If you have a static public IP address, you don't need to worry about this step. If you're not sure whether or not you have a static IP address, it won't hurt to set up DDNS anyway.

DDNS services work by assigning you a subdomain or URL, and having you run a small program or script on a device on your network - your Sia host computer will work fine. Some routers also have built-in DDNS support for certain DDNS services. When your public IP address changes, the DDNS client detects the change and updates your DDNS subdomain or URL with your new IP address. You can use your DDNS address to announce your Sia host, and renters will always be able to find you as long as you have DDNS set up and the IP update software running.

There are several free DDNS services available, such as NoIP.com, Afraid.org, or Dynu.com. Visit any of these, or search for your own free DDNS service, and follow the instructions to set up your DDNS hostname and install IP update software. Note that some free services may require you to confirm you're still using your DDNS account with them by requiring you to do something like click a link in an email once a month or so - make sure you watch for this, as you could lose your DDNS hostname and make your Sia host unconnectable if you don't. When you're done, you should have a DDNS URL such as mysiahost.noip.com which you can use in the next step to announce your host with.


Step 5: Configure Computer to Auto-Login, Start Sia, and Auto-Unlock Wallet Optional Recommended

Your Sia installation needs to be running all the time with your wallet unlocked in order for your host to show as online and be available to renters. By default, Sia isn't set to start with your computer or unlock your wallet automatically. If your computer requires a username and password to log in, Sia also won't start if your computer restarts for some reason. To fix these potential issues, we recommend making the following changes:

  1. If your Sia wallet password is the same as your seed, you should change it to something else. Click on More > Change Password on the Wallet tab and change it to something other than your seed.
  2. Save your Sia wallet password in a system environment variable called SIA_WALLET_PASSWORD :
  3. Add Sia to your Startup folder so that it starts automatically when you log into your computer:
  4. If you have to enter a username or password to log into your computer, you can set your computer to automatically log in when it starts, otherwise Sia won't start until you log in.

After all of the above steps have been completed, restart your computer and make sure your account logs in automatically, Sia starts, and your wallet is unlocked.


Step 6: Accept Contracts and Announce Host

Now that we've got everything set up, we're ready to turn it all on! Click the slider at the top of the Host window next to the Announce Host button, which will turn on our host for accepting new storage contracts from renters. Then, the last thing we need to do is announce our host to the Sia network so that renters can find us.

Turn the slider on to start accepting contracts as a host.

Announcing Host With DDNS or Specific IP

If you signed up for a DDNS service, you need to announce your host using your DDNS hostname in order for it to work. You can also announce a specific IP address. Click on the Terminal (>) icon at the top of the Sia-UI window, and type in host announce [ddns hostname or ip]:9982, substituting [ddns hostname or ip] with your unique DDNS hostname that you received from your DDNS service or the IP you want to announce. Make sure to include :9982 afterwards and without a space, as this specifies which port renters can contact you through and is the default for Sia.

Announcing Host Without DDNS

If you're not using a DDNS service, you can just click the Announce Host button at the top of the Host page. You only need to do this once.

Note that if your IP address changes and you're not using DDNS, you'll need to announce your host again. Your host will remain Offline until you announce the new IP address. You can use the instructions for announcing with DDNS or a specific IP to do so at any time.

Whichever method you use to announce, you'll see a very small transaction come out of your wallet related to announcing yourself. You can click the Wallet tab and look for the 0.02 SC (0.018 SC, to be exact) transaction to appear. It may take around 10 minutes to show in your Transactions list.


Step 7: Check Host Configuration Optional Recommended

Now that you have your host set up, it's probably a good idea to make sure that everything is configured correctly and renters can actually find you, right? The easiest way to check your host for connectability and proper configuration is to use SiaCentral's Host Troubleshooter. It will check your host for common misconfigurations and ensure that it is reachable. After announcing your host, use the box below to check its configuration. Change your host address if necessary to your host's actual public IP or DDNS address.

Check Host Configuration
This is pre-filled with your current IP - change if necessary.
Default 9982 - don't change this unless you know what you're doing.


If SiaCentral discovers issues when connecting to your host, wait an hour or two and try again - the announcement can take a little while to reach the Sia network. If you continue to have connectivity problems, troubleshooting steps can be found in this FAQ topic. Otherwise, you're all set.

Congratulations! You're set up as a host on the Sia network.


Step 8: Set Up Host Metadata Backups Optional Highly Recommended

Sia keeps data pertaining to your hosting operation in two places:

The first type of data, uploaded renter data, isn't very practical to back up unless you have additional hard drives laying around with capacity equivalent to what you're selling on Sia. In that case, you'd be better off setting up a mirrored volume with multiple disks to prevent data loss if a drive fails.

The second type of data, internal host metadata, is equally important. Sia installations have been known to corrupt this data if a host does not shut down gracefully (i.e. a power outage or crash), and in rare cases Sia itself can corrupt this data at no fault of the user. Without this metadata, your host cannot operate, and it is equivalent to losing all of your renter's data on all storage folders. This would result in the loss of all your risked collateral for your host. For this reason, you can see why it might be important to back the metadata up regularly. Even if you restore a copy of the metadata which is a few days old, you only stand to lose collateral for data uploaded to your host over those few days.

Host metadata is located in the /host folder in Sia's internal data files, which can be found in the Sia-UI by clicking the About (i) icon > Open Data Folder or in these locations:

It is recommended to set up a backup schedule to regularly back up your /host folder so that you do not risk losing your hosting operation entirely in the event that your computer or Sia crashes, or the data is randomly corrupted. You can do this by writing a simple backup script, by using built-in backup tools in Windows and Mac OS, or by using third-party tools in Linux.


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Tips for New Hosts

Now that you're set up as a host, here are a few tips.

Make Sure Your Host Stays Online

Check your hosting computer regularly to make sure it's still turned on and online, and that Sia is open and your wallet is unlocked. Your host is not active if Sia isn't open and unlocked. Also, check to make sure your host displays Online at the top of the Host tab. Review Steps 3 through 6 above for ways to ensure that your host will always be online and reachable by renters.

You can also check your host with third-party services like the SiaStats Host Monitor or the SiaCentral Host Manager, and configure email or desktop alerts if they detect your host has run into issues. These services are handy ways to keep an eye on your host automatically without having to check in on it all the time.

Monitor Your Host and Host Score

Your Host Score determines how likely you are to be picked for new contracts by renters. You can monitor several metrics of your Host Score by visiting the SiaStats Host Monitor or SiaHub and searching for your host by your public IP address or DDNS hostname. SiaStats performs host updates about every two hours, and SiaHub updates about every six hours, so your host may take up to a day or so to show up on either. Note that host scores, uptime, and other information on third-party sites is an estimate only and is not 100% accurate - but it gives you a good idea on where you stand compared to other hosts. If you still don't see your host after a day, check to make sure your host says it's still online at the top of the Host tab, and try using the SiaCentral Host Troubleshooter for more information on what might be keeping your host offline.

You can also use a utility like the SiaCentral Host Manager to manage and monitor your host. This is another third-party utility which provides host setting suggestions, income projections, and contract status in a more comprehensive way than the basic Sia-UI.

Monitor Your Collateral

You may also want to keep an eye on your collateral, as deductions from your wallet for collateral can add up. Sia can tell you how much collateral you have locked, how much you risk to lose if you go offline, and how much you've lost already (if any). You can use the Terminal (>) at the top of Sia-UI and enter host -v to see information on your host's collateral status. Also see the Collateral section on our Hosting page for more information on what each category of collateral means.

Be Patient

As a new host, your host score won't be great because you're penalized simply for being new and not having a reputation yet. This penalty lowers over time, and eventually goes away after about 6 weeks. If you don't see any contracts in the first few days, and your host says it's online, don't worry. If you still don't have any contracts after about a week, double check your pricing and find your host on the SiaStats Host Monitor or use the SiaCentral Host Troubleshooter as mentioned above to see if your host is showing as offline or having a low score compared to other hosts for other reasons.

For more tips, visit our Hosting FAQs page.