As becoming a provider is a commitment with financial implications, one should take care in considering which type of setup is a good fit. While becoming a DIY provider is an option, you’re also taking on responsibility for not only configuring but also troubleshooting the platform you select. The lifespan of any provider should aim to be many years.
The general recommendation for those looking to become a provider is the all-in-one Xa-Miner storage unit. The Xa-Miner is a set-and-forget solution with extensive software automation and custom tools to create a high-performing, low-maintenance provider.
There are also network considerations for all types of providers. One can expect to both send and receive large volumes of data, and as such, internet plans with data caps are not ideal for providing. There are no hard requirements for network speeds, but typically internet plans with around 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload are a good place to start. More is always better.
Your local network should also be able to configure port-forwards, which typically disqualifies CGNAT based networks. Since network configurations can vary greatly, you must do your own research on this before endeavoring to become a provider.
An IP Address Reservation (or static IP) is also preferable. If your ISP regularly changes your IP (this is called dynamic) you may have issues with your provider staying online as the announcement IP will change. This is less of a concern for Xa-Miners and those with Full Xa-Miner software where an auto-reannounce feature is standard, and IP changes are detected and handled automatically.
Whichever form of provider you choose, know that a provider will need to begin with some amount of SCP token to start providing storage to the network. You can learn more about Collateral here.
The journey for Xa-Miner providers splits from DIY here; continue to the Xa-Miner guide for resources specific to these devices.
When choosing to become a DIY provider, it is likely the user requirements outweigh the hardware ones. You should be comfortable with command-line operation, and be able to configure your local network settings. If this does not describe you, the Xa-Miner was created as a much more accessible way to still get involved as a provider.
A DIY provider can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, as the base requirements can look like many things. The bare technical requirements are as follows:
- 2-4 non-obsolete CPU cores
- At least 4 GB of RAM/memory. 6-8 GB is preferred, especially for Windows.
- 64-bit OS
- Spare storage capacity (500+ GB)
While a compact footprint and low cost of entry are attractive, single-board computer configurations (such as Raspberry Pi) have proven to have problematic reliability long term, and are not considered appropriate for use.
An ideal configuration also typically involves:
- SSD for OS and metadata folder
- Linux-based OS
- Ethernet (rather than WiFi)
- Quality hard drives (most likely 3.5” SATA)
A higher grade of disk is recommended considering there will likely be multiple operating continuously in close proximity, and disk failure can incur a potentially significant financial penalty. Without recommending any specific brand or model, WD Red or Gold, and Seagate Ironwolf or Exos are good options to consider. It is recommended to do one’s own research and consult multiple sources beyond this page for choosing appropriate drives.
Should I choose an SSD or an HDD? Are speeds important?
Disk speeds for the storage volumes are generally not a primary consideration at this point, as the vast majority of providers will be limited by their upload speed instead. Choose high MTBF drives, as your provider should aim to run for years without issue.
Should I run RAID or other redundant drive configurations?
When averaged across many units, across the expected lifetime of most modern (especially higher grade) hard drives, the benefit of protection against disk failure in RAID-like schemes is not expected outweigh the cost of reduced capacity offering and parity calculation overhead. You remain free of course to choose whatever scheme you’d like, but the guidance remains that redundant schemes are likely not preferable.
Does it matter if I run drives internally (SATA) or externally (via a USB enclosure)?
Any additional complexity added to a system can introduce points of failure, and a straightforward SATA connection is generally preferable when possible. External enclosures may vary in quality, and USB is a less direct medium for utilizing connected drives, but will often do okay if SATA isn’t a good option.
For DIY-hopefuls, the path splits three main directions here. Linux based systems are considered the gold standard, with maximum control over configuration and minimal quirks. Synology/Docker setups are solid options as well, but NAS units typically offer less direct control. Windows as a platform contains the most quirks but can work with some elbow-grease.
Proceed to these platform specific pages for further guidance.