Archive for the ‘Tests and Reviews’ Category


We are continuing our recent look into blockchain-based storage services such as Storj and crypto coins that are mineable with HDD such as Burst with another similar service that is more like Storj and Burst combined into one – the Sia. This project offers users to store files in the cloud using other users’ free disk space and people with free disk space to earn something extra by providing it to the network. Sia uses SiaCoin, a crypto currency token that is used for getting contracts to store your files as well as to get paid for sharing your free disk space. The SiaCoin is also available for mining in a more traditional way, so you might want to try that as well as an alternative way for obtaining the crypto currency token used by the service instead of trading it on an exchange. So far, so good everything sounds promising, especially considering that Sia is already operating a working network, though still in beta, with users hosting and buying space as well as mining. The question is how well it all works out and is it worth spending time and free space or even mining at this point in time, we wanted to know exactly this…

The Sia wallet integrates all of the basic functionality you need in order to operate with the service including the options to create contracts and upload files as well as to access them or to lease your free disk space to users needing such. This means that the wallet needs to be running all the time and that goes as well if you want to be able to mine SiaCoins as well. Currently SiaCoins can be mined using a GPU miner, an OpenCL one that works on both AMD and Nvidia GPUs, though it should be faster on AMD-based video cards. You can expect to get up to about 900 MHs from a Radeon 280X or a GeForce GTX 970 as a reference, but do note that the miner for Sia is also pretty CPU intensive, so if running with multiple GPUs the hashrate may slow down if the CPU gets overloaded. So far the Sia GPU miner needs quite a lot of extra work to become really useful, there are still no pools for SiaCoin mining and you need a running and unlocked wallet on each system you want to mine Sia on. Furthermore you need to run a separate instance of the GPU miner for each GPU you want ot mine the coin with, so with the current network difficulty and solo mining it may take quite a while until you hit a block, making the mining not to attractive.


To get to try sharing some files by renting some space on the Sia network you can use a faucet to get some SiaCoins, however it seems that the faucet has some downtime, so alternatively you can purchase SiaCoins from Poloniex where they are traded with a price of 7 satoshi per SiaCoin (pretty cheap). You can see what is the average price per GB per month in SiaCoins in the wallet among the currently active available hosts to get an idea how much you may need to spend depending on your storage needs. So with 200 SiaCoins per GB per month if you need 1TB of storage you would need to pay for it about 0.014 BTC equivalent or a little over $5 USD each month. The service encrypts the files and apparently stores them on multiple hosts in order to ensure availability even if one of the hosts experiences some downtime. The problem here is that managing your files from within the Sia wallet is not the most convenient you would expect, so this is also something that needs work as alternative cloud storage services like DropBox and many others do provide much more convenient access to user’s files.


The part where you are Hosting user files and are getting paid in SiaCoin in return is probably what more people are interested in. Here you set your price in SiaCoin per GB per month and the amount of free space you want to have available for sale and start waiting for getting contracts from people that need space. Dedicating 100 GB does not mean that they will be instantly filled at the moment even if you set a very low price of just 10 SiaCoins, it is wise to see what is the average price at the moment and base yours accordingly in order to get contracts as well as for them to be profitable. Based on your active contracts you will see what is the expected earnings that you will get at the end of the contract if you manage to fill them in. It is not very clear what level of downtime is acceptable before a contract is cancelled, but restarting the wallet a couple of times did not pose a problem for our few test contracts at a very low price. What is important here for providing Hosting services via Sia is that you need to be able to have your PC running the wallet accessible via an external IP, you can use port forwarding and the wallet supports UPnP as well. Though we’ve had a fair share of issues with connections not going through even though UPnP was working and port forwarding was just fine, leaving the wallet run for a few hours and these have disappeared by themselves. Getting your computer Hosting files on the Sia network accessible over the Internet could cause some issues for novice users and it also makes it hard to run multiple computers sharing free storage from a single external IP.

After spending a day trying to make Sia work properly and experiencing a few issues with things not working and trying to make them work we can conclude that although Sia does work decently it still needs a lot of work. The wallet needs to become more user friendly, better access to stored files is a must in order to get wider user adoption and to attract more people hosting files on the network, pool mining support needs to be added and the GPU miner needs to be further improved to support mining on a different computer running the wallet and so on. Sia, much like many others, also suffers from the lack of detailed information and answers to the many questions that new users may have, there is some information available and it is not very well structured, so that also needs quite a lot of work too. You can still give Sia a try if you are interested, but it is too early for people that are interested in seriously using the file storage functionality or the ones interested in earning from sharing their free space. At the moment Sia is at a stage where you can just give it a try to see how it works and what you can expect in the future, not something that you can use to make good profit mining or sharing free space. We are going to be checking Sia again at a later time to see how things may improve in the future…

For more details about the Sia collaborative cloud data storage service…


Recently we have tried the beta of the latest Version of Storj DriveShare GUI, a service that is intended to allow you to earn money by sharing your extra hard drive space. Although it is still not ready to be launched and you could have some issues getting to try it out, this Blockchain-based cloud storage service does look very promising. While participating in the currently ongoing beta test of the DriveShare service we’ve went on to figure out how to easily build a reliable and affordable 8TB home storage solution that can be used with the service for earning money via the Storjcoin X (SJCX) crypto currency tokens that Storj uses. Going through the earnings calculator that estimates how much can you earn sharing 8 TB of storage via the service we are getting over $230 USD estimate per month if all of the space is being used by users of the service, so it is not a guarantee that you will be earning this much for sure. So our goal was to build 8 TB storage solution with less than what you can earn in 6 months based on the earnings estimate or with other words less than $1380 USD.


Going through various small home NAS (Network Attached Storage) solutions and different small server data storage solutions we have found out an interesting choice that is compact, affordable and easy to be used by not so advanced users – the HP ProLiant MicroServer. More specifically the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 G1610T 1P 4GB-U B120i Non-hot Plug SATA Server(819185-001) that is available for a about $450 USD and that only needs you to install hard drives and do the software setting up like you would with a normal PC. The MicroServer comes with 4GB of memory and a Dual-Core Intel Celeron G1610T processor, along with Gigabit network support and 4 drive bays for hard drives.

The hardware specs of the MicroServer should be more than enough for this kind of a storage solution, so all we need now are four hard drives with 2 TB capacity each for a total of 8 TB capacity. You could go for larger capacity HDDs, however the larger the capacity, the higher the price per drive will be, so at the moment 2 Terabytes offers a good price/capacity ratio and since we have 4 drive bays we can go for 4x 2 TB without having to worry about anything. There are two good options available for the hard drives, the Western Digital Red hard drives with 2 TB going for $90 USD per drive or the 2 TB Red Pro drives for $134 USD per drive. The normal Red series is intended for smaller NAS solutions, offers a bit slower performance and comes with 3 years warranty for a lower price and the Red Pro series is for more serious storage solutions with 5 years warranty, better performance and extra technologies for better reliability. So with 4x 2 TB Red drives we need to spend $360 USD for HDDs and with 4x 2 TB Red Pro drives you need to spend $536 USD or along with the HP MicroServer the total would be either $810 USD or $986 USD. Both choices would put us below the 6 month earnings estimate from DriveShare, so our goal is achieved. Now all that we need is the the service to finish testing and launch in order for such a solution to become interesting alternative to crypto currency mining by offering a home storage solution.

For more details about the Storj’s DriveShare storage project currently in beta…


Storj, the Blockchain-based cloud storage service, has released a new version 0.5 of their DriveShare GUI and we have decided to give it a try after keeping an eye on the development of Storj and their StorjcoinX (SJCX) crypto currency tokens. The DriverShare GUI is still an alpha build and the company is still testing it with the help of users by rewarding the participants with SJCX coins, though there is a catch – you need to have and use a wallet with at least 10000 SJCX coins in it in order to be eligible to receive any rewards for this test. So started from scratch by making a SJCX wallet, going through exchanges to buy at least 10000 StorjcoinX coins and installing and running the latest DriveShare GUI and below you can find our not so pleasant experience as well as details of what you actually need to do, how and where if you want to follow in our footsteps. You need to start by downloading the latest DriveShare GUI, it is available as binaries compiled for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux as well as a source code. This is the software you need to install and run on your computer to share some space in order to participate in the current test run of the service. The DriveShare GUI software is actually the easiest part, but as you will see after installing and running the software you will also need to create a Payout Address where you will need to also store at least 10000 SJCX coins in order to get rewards for your time and resources spent in helping test the service.


The official website recommends that you create a wallet address for SJCX at Counterwallet – the official web-based Counterparty Counterwallet server. It is recommended that you do not use a wallet address for SJCX that has been generated in an exchange as there you do not have control over the address and do not posses the private key for your wallet and that can cause you all kinds of trouble. As soon as yo register at the Counterwallet you will get a unique wallet address and this address is universal and will work for Bitcoin (BTC) and Counterparty (XCP) as you will see in your wallet dashboard, but what about SJCX?


What is not very clearly stated however is that the address you get is also for StorjcoinX (SJCX) as well and as soon as you transfer some coins to it you will see another box added for SJCX. This can cause a bit of a confusion for users that are using the Counterwallet and are not very familiar with it as well as the SJCX and unfortunately it is not very clearly explained on the StorjcoinX website, they do point you to an user video that actually explains this with not official more detailed explanation. Still once you get your wallet and do send some small amount of coins to try things out you will pretty much understand how things work with Counterwallet and StorjcoinX. Do note however that if you want to send out SJCX coins from your web-based wallet there will be a fee of 0.0005 BTC to perform the action or roughly about $0.225 USD. This is the standard fee and you cannot pay the fee in SJCX, only in BTC, so you will also need to have a small amount of Bitcoins in the wallet in order to be able to cover the fees. Also make sure that you use the Show Private Key option in the wallet and save the wallet address and the private key for it in a secure place in case you need to recover it at a later time.


The next step is to buy some StorjcoinX from one of the exchanges that does have SJCX markets, since the service backed by the tokens is still in testing period it is to be expected that there are not many exchanges supporting it. You can buy from two of the biggest altcoin exchanges – Bittrex and Poloniex as well as from services such as ShapeShift or even from the Counterwallet. Unfortunately the market at Counterwallet is not very active and the pair SJCX/XBTC (StorjcoinX/Bitcoin) does not have any buy or sell offers at the moment, so it is not very usable. ShapeShift is a convenient service that allows you to exchange between multiple crypto currency pairs without even having to register, but the exchange rate there is usually not the best. So you need to go to an exchange and buy the 10000 SJCX coins from there, leaving you the two options currently available – Bittrex and Poloniex. We have started with Bittrex, however we soon found out that the SJCX volume there is too low and buying 10000 StorjcoinX from there would mean that we would have to spend much more than the average price. So we just bought a few hundred coins to try the Counterwallet and the transfer was quick and problem free from Bittrex to the Counterwallet.

Then we have moved to Poloniex to buy more coins as apparently the exchange of choice and with the largest volume for SJCX is precisely this one, we have bought a little over 13000 SJCX with an average price of about 3600 satoshi per SJCX and then tried to withdraw them in a single transaction to the Counterwallet. Unfortunately the withdraw did not complete successfully, we got an error message, so we’ve written to the support at Poloniex and a few hours later we’ve had the SJCX coins available back in the account. We have initiated another withdraw request, but unfortunately it did not go through either, so we are waiting again for the support to resolve the issue. If we get back the coins back in our account we are going to try to withdraw them at smaller portions again and if these do not go through again, then it would seem that Poloniex might have some issue with SJCX at the moment which will not be very good at all. The issue with Poloniex withdraws of SJCX was resolved by the support and the coins are now in our wallet.

All in all, even though the things are still in testing period, there is still much work needed to be done to make everything more clear and user friendly to new users as the goal of such a service is to become mainstream in order to be successful. Storj has a great idea and they are doing the software implementation quite well already, but they also need to work on other parts of the ecosystem such as the wallets and the exchanges as apparently these are farm from what they should be in terms of ease of use and being problem free for the users. Hopefully by the time everything is ready for an official launch things will be improved further and they will be easy for everyone that wants to take advantage from the ideas behind this Blockchain-based cloud storage service.