The basic concept behind blockchain technology is the decentralized, secure storage of digital data. While most solutions built on the blockchain tend to use this ultra-secure database solely for financial applications, there are a few who dare to do something different with it.
One such application is Sia. The Sia Storage Platform (SSP) is a blockchain based alternative to popular cloud storage platforms like Amazon AWS. It works by storing your data across a global network, encrypted using the same protocols used for creating cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
This makes Sia a much more cost-effective alternative for cloud storage while ensuring uptimes comparable to its entrenched rivals.
Now while these groundbreaking features make Sia an attractive investment option for crypto enthusiasts, it also makes it difficult to find good wallets that support the token.
This is because your Siacoins are not just tokens to be traded based on their market value, but rather the keys to your private file storage as well, distributed across the Sia network. As such, wallet integration with Siacoin is not a simple matter and needs a deep level of collaboration to properly work.
So what the best wallets that support Siacoin? Let’s find out.
The Sia.UI Wallet is the official wallet for Sia, made by Nebulous, the developers of the Sia Storage Platform. Available for Windows, Linux and the Mac OS, Sia.UI is the safest and most secure wallet for storing your Sia tokens on the desktop.
How to use the Sia.UI Wallet?
First of all, head to this link and download the Sia.UI client for your desktop. You will be prompted to select the OS of your choice.
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Once you have downloaded the zip package, its time to extract the contents to a new folder. Do keep in mind that there is no installation process for the Sia.UI client; the extracted files will function as a standalone application. So make sure you unzip them to a ‘permanent’ directory, instead of simply extracting within the downloads folder itself.
Now you just have to fire up the application to continue. Upon launching for the first time, the Sia.UI wallet will attempt to synchronize to the Sia blockchain. The process can take a whole day, because it needs to download each and every block of transactions completed to date. This synchronization would repeat every time you run the application – though if it’s any consolation, subsequent time frames would be much shorter.
After the synchronization is complete, you can now actually get your wallet started. There are two options before you: To create a new wallet, or restore an old one. The second option is useful only if you had a Sia wallet previously, or are migrating to a new device.
Otherwise, click on the ‘create new wallet’ option.
A screen will now come up, displaying your new wallet’s seed and password (if you choose to create one).
The seed, or the mnemonic phrase, is the private key to your wallet. It can be used to access the files you store on the Sia network, so make sure that you note it down somewhere secure, as opposed to simply saving a screenshot or typing it down in a text file somewhere. A physical paper wallet works the best here – just don’t keep it lying around in plain sight.
If you elected to have a password, the application will now prompt you to enter it and unlock your wallet. The wallet will be locked every time you fire it up again, which can be a good security checkpoint in case of a shared computer.
And that’s it! You now have the Sia.UI Wallet up and running perfectly. Though since your wallet is new, all that the welcome screen will show is a ‘No recent transactions’ message. Time to rectify this.
How To Recieve Sia Coins
Receiving Sia coins is easy. All you have to do is share your address with the sender, and then wait for the transaction to show up on your wallet.
Now, there is no permanent fixed address for your wallet. The only thing that remains unchanging is your private key (or seed, as we called it earlier). Addresses are generated per use, so you are not supposed to reuse old addresses for receiving new transactions.
The Sia.UI wallet takes care of such details for you. You just have to click the Receive Siacoin option on the top right of your screen. A small dialogue box will appear. The box shows a newly generated address which you can safely copy and share to the sender for receiving funds.
Sometimes, you might need to obtain the old addresses that you have already used. Since clicking the Receive Siacoin button generates a new address every time, we need to do something different.
First, navigate to the ‘Terminal’ tab on the sidebar.
The terminal, as you might have guessed, is a window for entering commands for the Sia client, offering more power and flexibility than the GUI options. For now, however, we don’t need anything complicated. Just type ‘wallet addresses’ and hit enter.
As you can see, the window will display all the addresses generated till date on the wallet. Do note that it does not care whether the address has actually been used or not – as long as an address was generated, it would be found here. This can be useful for getting hold of addresses that you lost without using for some reason.
But never, ever, re-use old addresses. That opens you up to malicious attacks, and your funds and files can be stolen that way.
How To Send Sia Coins?
Sending your Siacoins is similarly easy. Just click on the ‘Send Siacoin’ button on the top right corner this time.
This brings up another box, prompting you to enter the send amount and the receiver’s address. Just ensure that you have enough in your wallet to pay for the transaction fees too, and hit the send button. That’s all. The Sia blockchain will take care of the rest for you.
Sia Wallet Android
Officially, Sia doesn’t have a mobile wallet. However, a third party developer has built an android application to run a Sia node on mobile.
That being said, the android Sia wallet is no less than its competitors. The interface is sleek, the controls intuitive, and the performance fast and smooth. You can even upload and download files to the Sia network from the app itself, with support for advanced features like contracts and allowances built in.
Let’s learn how to use it.
To begin with, head to Google play and download the Sia app. Upon firing it up for the first time, you will be presented with the following screen.
The syncing process is mandatory before being able to send any funds, though you can still receive tokens without it. The process might take some time (and data), so be sure to sync it with your home wifi overnight.
For now, let’s create a wallet. To do so, open up the three-dot menu.
As you can see, all the major options of using the Sia wallet are listed in this menu for easy access. Tap on the ‘Create Wallet’ option to continue.
Unlike many other wallet applications you may have used, the Sia android wallet does not require you to name your wallet. All that you need is to choose a strong password and confirm it. In case you already have a pre-existing Sia account and wish to restore it, check the create from existing seed option.
If you are restoring a previous account, this is where you have to enter your old seed. Otherwise, an information panel will appear with your 29 word mnemonic seed. Heed the warning given above as well; the seed is literally the key to your wallet, and the only thing standing between your funds and a hacker. Going forward, even files stored on Sia would be retrieved using seeds, so make sure you write down your seed and store it somewhere safe.
While the wallet does give you a straightforward copy option, using it is not advised, as simply storing your seed in a text file is the best way to get it leaked to a hacker. If you want to store digitally, at least use an encrypted vault service, or better yet, use the good old paper wallet. Trust me, you don’t want your seed to be accessed by anyone else.
And that’s just about it. Your wallet has been created. Initially, it begins locked, and you need to unlock it from the menu by entering your password before you can do anything on it. You can lock the wallet again in case you are leaving your phone unattended for a while, so that someone cannot just come across your phone and start spending your funds.
Now let’s find out how to use our sparkling new wallet, shall we?
On any wallet for any crypto, receiving funds is just a matter of accessing and sharing your public address with the sender. On the Sia android wallet, this is a simple matter of opening the three-dot menu and tapping the ‘View Address’ option. (You might notice the ‘View Addresses’ option as well. Don’t worry about it, we will explain it in a moment.)
Alternatively, you can tap the ‘+’ button on the bottom right corner.
The paper airplane denotes ‘Send’, while the download arrow is for ‘Receive’. Hit the receive button for now.
As you can see, you are presented with a long string of….well, gibberish, accompanied by a QR code. Scanning the QR code is the best method because it reduces the likelihood of errors creeping in due to a misplaced character or two in copying. In case the sender is not nearby though, you can always just copy and share the address itself.
Viewing Old Addresses
Do note that the address is not a permanent fixture of your account; the next time you hit the ‘View Address’ button, you will come across an entirely different address. This is natural because the addresses are generated on the fly for each transaction, and are not meant to be reused.
But sometimes, you might want to retrieve an old address again. Maybe you lost the copied address before sending it. Maybe the transaction was never carried out. In such cases, you can (though it is recommended not to do so) obtain the old address again.
To do this, bring down the three-dot menu, and select the ‘View Addresses’ option this time. The app will list all the previously generated addresses in chronological order for you.
Sending funds is similar. Hit the ‘+’ button on the bottom right corner again.
Tap the paper plane this time.
As you can see, the form presented is minimal; all you need is the recipient’s address, and the amount to send. If you have the address copied, hitting the clipboard will paste it into the field. Otherwise, tapping the QR code symbol will let you scan for a valid QR code from your mobile, automatically translating it into a Sia address.
Tap the arrow to get the transaction underway.
Viewing your Seed
In case you lose the seed that you recorded during wallet creation, there is no need to panic. You can still view the seed again. Just fire up the three-dot menu from the top right corner.
Now tap the ‘View Seeds’ option. Your twenty-nine word mnemonic seed is before you again. But don’t forget to keep a physical copy of the seed too; just because you can view it anytime does not mean that you don’t need a backup. For example, in case your device is stolen or broken, you would need the seed to restore your wallet again on a new device.
Tapping the ‘Node’ menu on the top left brings down another list of options. These options are not those which are essential to simple day to day transactions, but relate to the advanced features of Sia.
Tapping on the Renter option (denoted by the cloud) drops down a small submenu.
‘Files’ is for accessing Sia’s decentralized file storage network. Opening it for the first time brings up an empty screen, with a rather wordy information box warning you about the current shortcomings of the Sia storage system.
In a nutshell, this is the inability to retrieve files not uploaded from the same device. This is likely to change in the future, but for now, refrain from storing very important files on the Sia network, as losing your device would lose the files as well.
After accepting the message, you will be greeted by a rather empty screen. Let’s change this. Tap the ‘+’ button on the bottom right corner.
The first symbol, as you might have guessed, is for selecting a file, while the second is for whole folders. Tapping any of the options brings up the file explorer, and you can select the files you want to store.
On the top right of the Files screen are options for configuring your view. The magnifying glass option is for searching files which is handy once you start using the Sia storage in earnest, and have hundreds of files in it.
The other option is for modifying the sorting arrangement. You can sort the files by Name, by Size, Ascending etc. Feel free to try out the various modes to find what works for you.
But before you can actually start storing files, there are some things you must do first.
The way file storage works on Sia is somewhat different than what you might be used to.
Basically, you set an ‘allowance’ of funds, dedicating it for file storage. Renter, the module of Sia in charge of storage, then forms ‘contracts’ with a suitable host to provide that storage. This allowance can be set and adjusted from the appropriately named Allowance option within the Renter sub-menu.
You can also check out the Allowance window for a breakdown of your expenditure. As you can see, the view lists the amount of allowance spent, the period of renting, and renewal conditions, if any. As the Sia blockchain matures further, expect this view to add more functionality.
On the other hand, navigating to the Contracts option can show you all running contracts and the hosts with whom you have them.
Siacoin Cold Storage
Siacoin cold storage is a facility for generating seeds and addresses for the Sia blockchain without actually connecting to the network. Called ‘air gapping’, this is a method of safely storing your tokens without the risk of losing sensitive details to hackers tracing your network traffic.
The way it works is quite simple. Simply download this handy utility and use it on a computer that is offline. Better yet, fire it up on an airgapped LiveCD for maximum security.
The generated addresses can be shared with other users for safely receiving payments, or sending your own funds from another wallet or exchange. To send funds, however, you need to use a wallet application too. So the utility is the best for creating an account for long term storage of your funds, also called ‘cold storage’.