Frequently Ungoogled Chia Questions

This critter came in over the weekend. We’ll see if Hello Kitty grows chia faster than my rigs.

I’ve written a couple of Chia posts in the last week, and it looks like a lot of readers have benefitted from them.

There are still a lot of questions, many of them repeated, that people aren’t gleaning from the other posts. I’ll try to gather those here and update this page more often than the others. This will be somewhat freeform, so feel free to search this post or the blog in general for your answers, and if you have a new question, ask it here and I’ll see what I can do.

I will try to organize the questions and answers to make them easier to follow. For now, this is as-I-think-of-them so you may want to browse or use search to find your questions.

Note that I can’t do hardware audits, basic Linux or Windows admin training, or investment advice of any sort on this site. As with any crypto adventure, don’t spend more than you can afford to lose or repurpose, and don’t expect me to talk you into or out of any particular crypto efforts.

As a side note, no, the acronym was not intentional, but it’s relevant when I hear some of these questions. Thanks for asking.

Now on to the questions…

Updated: 2021-05-13 9pm PT

Q. Will I get rich doing this?
Don’t you know Chia is getting harder to farm?
Why not wait for a pool?
Why not use filecoin?
Is this because Ethereum is dead?

A. No, yes, if you want to, if you want to, no.

I come to Chia writing from the perspective of explaining conversationally how the farming (mining) process works, what it wants from its hardware, and how to get it going. You are the one who has to decide if it’s worthwhile.

I can say that you probably shouldn’t start with a 1PB farming cluster if you haven’t plotted a single plot yet. That’s why the modest hardware configs are offered, so that you can figure it out in short order and decide if you want to spend your inheritance or your last bitcoin on this. You probably shouldn’t, if you’re looking to a blog for advice.

Q. Will my hardware work?

A. Maybe. Look for the “Hardware considerations” section of the “So you think” post, and do the math from that against your own hardware. Don’t overcommit your memory.

If you have a dual core processor, less than 8GB of RAM, less than 300GB of fast storage, or less than 1TB of slow storage, you’re going to be sad plotting. Save that machine for farming once you have the plots, and build something better to plot.

Q. Tell me exactly what to buy.

That’s not a question, but look at the posts linked above. There are suggestions with purchasing links (that help me out with my hardware acquisition, thank you for that), as well as descriptions of my own configurations.

Q. Do I need the biggest and best processors and memory for my farm?

A. Probably not. A six-core Intel or AMD processor with at least 24GB of RAM, 2TB of fast storage, and a lot more slow storage will be fine. You can buy Threadripper, Xeon Scalable, or EPYC processors and scale up, but you don’t need to.

Q. Can I plot on this Core 2 Duo or Athlon XP machine I’ve had in the garage for years?

I wouldn’t even try. A single plot will eat your CPU and probably take a day or two.

Q. Should I buy that new ONDA 32-port SATA motherboard for $2500 and use it for my farmer?

A. Probably not, but if you do, be sure to buy it and the associated drives andpower supplies through my Amazon affiliate links.

Q. Does it matter if I use Linux or Windows?

Yes but actually no. Linux will plot 10-20% faster than Windows, but if you spend that 20% fumbling around Linux, it won’t help. Start with what you know. You can always cut over if you like. You can even run both (i.e. plot on Linux, farm on Windows, or do both on both like I do).

Q. Do I need a fast Internet connection?

Yes and no. For plotting, you don’t need an internet connection at all. For farming, you need a connection to receive and submit challenges, and you will want a reasonably fast and reliable, low-latency connection. For daily operation, you will not even use 1 Mbit/sec except when updating your operating system.

Q. Do I need to be online to plot?

Not really. Plotting is done entirely locally. you can keep your plotting machine(s) blocked from the Internet if you like, and if your connection goes down they can still work.

Q. Do I need to be online to farm?

Yes, definitely. Unless your farming machine (with access to the plot files) is online, connected to the Chia network, and able to receive and report challenges, your plots are useless and you have no chance of rewards.

Q. Can I plot to HDD? Can I store plots long-term on SSD or NVMe? How about SD cards or my Dropbox or Google Drive?

You can try just about anything, but your best experience will involve SSD or NVMe or other PCIe flash (or really high performance HDD arrays) for plotting, large affordable HDD storage for long term storage, and no cloud storage or SD/CF/USB flash storage. (If you are plotting or farming on a cloud compute platform like AWS, GCP, or Azure, obviously the cloud storage that’s “local” to your compute resources should be okay, but if you should be doing that, you already knew that).

Some folks on our Chia farming Telegram channel tried Google Drive and Dropbox and came back to local storage because of performance and ability to handle the 100GB files. I won’t argue with you or tell you that you can’t try, but I can predict that you’ll be disappointed with the results.

Q. How long does a plot take?

A. Until it’s done. Start with an expectation of 12 hours, and figure it out from your exact configs. With a good plotting config you might get down to around 5 hours for a plot, and slower configs may take a full day. Plotting in parallel may increase this time, but 5 hours for 1 plot vs 6 hours for 4 plots isn’t a bad tradeoff.

Note that single plot speed isn’t the only metric of importance. In a community plotting performance spreadsheet the plotters with the lowest speeds are not always the ones plotting the most per day, and the one with the most plot TiB per day has an 11.99 hour plot time. So look at the big picture.

Q. If my plot crashes, my computer reboots, or my house gets picked up in a tornado, can I just restart the plot where it left off?

No. Right now, interrupted plots are dead. Delete the temp files and restart. The Chia developers hope to have plot resume functionality later this year.

Q. Can I delete my plots once I make them?

A. Yes, but that wouldn’t make any sense. You only run the risk of earning rewards with plots you have on a farmer with a connection to the Internet. If you delete them, all you did was test your drives and CPU.

Yes, this means in theory you keep all your plots “forever” (or at least 6-10 years). If you’re running out of space and don’t want to buy more, just stop plotting and keep farming.

Q. If I lose my plot storage drive, will my plots come back automatically from somewhere?

A. No. If you lose the drive (or RAID array) your plots are on, for all intents and purposes they are gone and you will have to plot more.

You can back up your plots somewhere (a second array, a cloud storage service if it supports 100GB files), and then re-download them if you lose them. This could be expensive though, and the price will keep going up as you plot more.

You can use RAID-5, RAID-6, Synology SHR on a Synology array, or RAIDz on a TrueNAS/ZFS array to protect against the loss of one or two drives at a time, with relatively little reduction in capacity. Yes, writing to RAID-5 etc does suffer a write penalty in performance, but since you are writing once and then only reading, it’s not nearly as bad as having to replot all your plots.

There are instructions on r/chia to use a staging SSD to speed up plot completion, so your plot cycle isn’t suffering from the RAID-5 penalty. If you don’t have that option, you can read about the secondary temporary directory which may speed things up (or may not).

Q. How do I start Chia up on my computer?

Windows GUI: run “Chia” app
Windows CLI:

c:
cd C:\Users\<youruser>\AppData\Local\chia-blockchain\app-<yourversion>\resources\app.asar.unpacked\daemon
.\chia.exe start all

Linux CLI:

cd ~/chia-blockchain
. ./activate
chia start all

Linux GUI (start up with CLI above first):

cd ~chia-blockchain
. ./activate
cd chia-blockchain-gui
npm run electron &

Paths may change with version changes, but these should be valid as of Chia 1.1.5 at the time of posting. Note that I don’t use the Linux GUI, but this seems correct – leave a comment if I’m wrong.

Q. My node sync/resync is going really slow, isn’t moving at all, or doesn’t show any node connections. What do I do?

Remember that your first time sync may take 1-2 days. But if you don’t see the block number incrementing, or if it’s going really slowly (like 15 minutes between blocks), there are a couple of things to try.

  1. Make sure your port forwarding is passing TCP port 8444 through to your node host. UPNP does this automatically on many networks, but check your router to be sure.
  2. Make sure you have only one full node syncing on your network. If you choose to have more than one, only the one that got to UPNP first will get quick sync. You can try adding that node’s address to your other nodes’ configs.
  3. Check out this reddit post, or search r/chia for node resync. There are quite a few publicly accessible nodes you can use.

In the Windows GUI, click on “Full Node” and scroll down to Connections. Click on “Connect to other peers” and enter the hostname/IP address in the first box and the port (8444) in the second box. Your new connection should show up on the list and show the current block it has.

In the Windows CLI and the Linux CLI, it’s pretty much the same process. For Windows, change to your daemon directory (see previous question), or for Linux do the “activate” (also shown in the previous question. Then use the command

chia show -a <hostname>:8444

For Windows, you need to use .\chia.exe but you probably remember that from the previous question. Repeat as often as you like for adding multiple nodes.

Q. When will I get my XCH coins? How soon will I be rich? When can I pay off the huge pile of hardware I bought?

Nobody knows. Some folks have found a Chia reward (2 XCH) with fewer than 10 plots farmed, and some have plotted 500+ plots and found nothing. There are odds and there’s random luck, and you’re between them.

Q. How many plots do I need to earn 1 XCH? How many XCH will I win with 100 plots? How many dollars am I guaranteed per plot?

There’s no answer to this, except that you are not guaranteed anything at all. See the question above. You could win multiple rewards with your first plot, or you might never find a reward.

Q. Can I farm in a pool right now?

As of May 13, 2021, the Chia developers have not finalized how Chia pools will work. Therefore, there are no pools using the Chia-approved solutions yet. There is a Chinese pool called hpool that has some method for pooling farm work, but you should do your due diligence and decide if you want to use an unapproved pooling solution that may take your currency without recourse.

Chia pools were expected to officially launch on May 17, 2021, but Bram Cohen announced that the date has bumped to “at least” the end of May 2021. Watch chia.net for details.

Q. Should I wait for pools instead of farming on my own?

It’s up to you. You might find some XCH before then, but you have to set up the equipment to do it. If you wait, you will not find any XCH until you join and participate in a pool, and we don’t know when that will be yet.

Q. Will I have to throw away all my hardware when pools come out?

No. You should expect to re-plot to use pools, but you can continue to use your local plots the way you do today, with or without pooling.

Q. Can I mine Ethereum or other cryptocurrency on the same machine that I’m farming Chia on?

Maybe. I would not recommend plotting on a rig that’s also doing GPU or CPU mining, because if your rig crashes or needs a reboot for any reason, you have to either wait for the plot to finish (for controlled maintenance) or trash that plot and start over. This could cause you to lose 4-24 hours of work. Also, CPU mining will take away resources needed for plotting.

Q. What are TBW and PBW, and why do I care?

TBW refers to Total Bytes Written, or even Terabytes Written. PBW is Petabytes Written. They refer to the designed and warranted lifespan of an SSD, and to a lesser extent a HDD.

Manufacturers test the components of SSDs to determine how long they should last; writing and rewriting a drive does eventually wear it out. So if an SSD has a rating of 600 TBW, you should expect that it will work for 600 terabytes of data writing (usually large serial writes). Higher grade SSDs may have 2000-3000 TBW ratings, and PCIe Flash drives often have ratings as high as 10-20 PBW (or more).

As of Chia 1.1.x, a single k32 plot uses 1.6-1.8TB of writes, so that 600TBW drive has a life of 333 plots (successful or not; failed plots still write and wear the drive down). It probably won’t stop working right at 600 TB, but at that point the warranty may be worn out, and you may see decreased capacity and performance.

If you’re racking up the terabytes, consider retiring your plotting drives to be staging drives for the final copy at half to 2/3 of the lifespan. This will use 1/15 of the write and speed up your plotting process too.

Q. Do I need separate plotting and plot storage space, or can I use one big drive/array for both?

You should use separate space, but if you’re just trying Chia out, you can use whatever you have, as long as you have about 300GB of space for each plot you want to generate in parallel, and about 100GB of space for each plot file you end up with.

However, you should use separate space. Your performance and reliability will be better.

Also, you should have your OS on a separate drive from plotting and storage if possible. Filling up your OS drive on Windows or Linux is a bad thing.

Q. Should I have one system with 20 drives, or two systems with 10 drives each?

It’s up to you. Splitting across two machines may make it easier to have sufficient drive bays, and it means you can update software or do other maintenance and only affect half your farming operation, not all of it.

Q. Can I use multiple drives or arrays for my plot files?

Yes, definitely. Just make sure you have added each location as a plot directory (Plots->three dots->Add plot directory on Windows, chia plots add -d <directory> on Linux). You can even use NAS space for your plots, although it will be slower than local storage in many cases.

Q. Do RGB memory sticks make my plots go faster?

No, but they don’t make them go slower either.

Q. Should I sell the XCH I’ve already made?

Maybe. I can’t tell you what to do. If it were my choice, I’d consider profit-taking (i.e. selling part of it to cover my expenses in making it) but holding as much as I can. If you installed chia on your laptop, found a few XCH the first day, and then turned it off, go ahead and sell it.

Q. I read your original blog post, word for word. It’s great. Could you please answer a question that was answered very clearly in the first section?

No.

Q. I read your original blog post, word for word. It’s great. Thank you for helping me learn. How can I repay you?

Thank you! I’m glad this helped. Some folks have asked to send me XCH when they get plotting, but I’d rather not take away their rewards.

If you benefitted from my Chia posts and want to tangibly thank me, you can send me a tip with Paypal or credit card using Ko-Fi, send me some Ethereum (0x3A416f5B9c812cB5a813625ee8088a021a9B7607) when gas dies down a bit, or shop through my Amazon and eBay affiliate links. There are some other options at Support rsts11 if you like.

If not, just consider passing the support forward, and/or sharing these posts with your friends, followers, etc.

13 thoughts on “Frequently Ungoogled Chia Questions

  1. Pingback: So you think you want to farm chia? | rsts11 – Robert Novak on system administration

  2. Pingback: Chia update and frequently answered questions | rsts11 – Robert Novak on system administration

  3. Hi
    As per advice on the forums I’m going to switch my nas (the final destination of plots) to raid 0 for maximum capacity. But this is of course zero redundancy. If a hard drive fails then I will lose all those plots (let’s say 20TB) and I will have to rebuild the raid array.

    What happens once connected the Chia app to it my new blank raid? I understand that as long as I have my wallet, I haven’t permanently lost anything.
    But I need those previously generated plots back on the nas in order to contribute to the chia network (and hopefully earn some XCH), AKA “farming”, correct?

    If so, how long does it take to get the lost plots back in my farm? And which resource is used for it? CPU/internet traffic/hard drive etc.

    Thanks!

    Like

    • You misunderstand what happens when you lose plots.

      If you lose plots, whether from accidental (or intentional) deletion, or from losing a drive or array, they’re lost. They aren’t backed up anywhere unless you back them up yourself. If you have 200 plots (20TiB) on your non-redundant NAS and the NAS fails, you lose all your plots and get to start plotting again.

      And as you probably know, if you have RAID-0 (probably striping for performance), and you lose any drive in that array, you lose the whole array and everything on it. (Yes, if you use concat instead of stripe, you might be able to recover some of it, but it’s messy and not anywhere near guaranteed. )

      If it were me making the decision, I would use a RAID-5, RAID-6, SHR, or RAIDZ array with some redundancy, at least allowing for the loss of one drive. There is a write penalty, but you write once and read the rest of the time so it’s worth it to me. You can look on r/chia for the use of a staging SSD to further reduce the impact of RAID5 etc.

      There are some testing options for recreating plots in development, but you would still (I believe) go through the same amount of time to rebuild those plots as it would take to build new ones.

      Now as long as you have your mnemonic and/or keys, your currency is not lost. Your wallet is stored on the blockchain.

      Like

  4. Once I’ve done all the plotting my nas capacity will allow, I can just have my Chia app farming? Can that be done on a low spec PC? What’s the lowest spec you recommend?
    Thanks

    Like

    • If you look on Bram Cohen’s twitter account, you’ll see one of the earliest large farms running on a Rock Pi 4C. I would recommend a minimum of a Pi4 8GB, although apparently it can be done on 4GB.

      https://amzn.to/3bwuqpj is a similar model of RockPi
      https://amzn.to/3eR804g is the 8GB Pi4 with all accessories you need (except a network cable)

      Any PC with an Ethernet port and 8GB of RAM should be quite sufficient.

      Like

      • Is the ethernet port for the internet connection or connection to the nas?
        I’m wondering whether I can have my farming PC, nas, and router, all on wifi?

        Like

      • Ethernet is for both. You have to connect to the Network-Attached Storage and to the Internet to receive and return work.

        You can run them on wifi, but you should be sure your wifi is very stable if you’re going to do that.

        Like

      • I could connect my day to day PC to my nas via ethernet, but right now there is no way to get wired internet to the PC – though the wi-fi connection I’d say seems stable. Is it worth purchasing a powerline adapter or is the PC>internet connection not as vulnerable to wi-fi fluctuations?
        Thanks

        Like

      • So I have not tested this–I just leave wireless for laptops by habit–but I would say that your connection to the internet will be more bursty, sporadic, and resilient.

        Depending on how much data the farming process reads from the plot file(s), you could have issues if a connection is disrupted. I am expecting that it doesn’t read the entire 100GB plot (probably just the filter table and then the requested part of the file).

        I’m not 100% sure on this, and it’s probably worth you testing to see how it works before buying anything else.

        Like

  5. Thanks for the great article! I am already up and running on a Windows PC, plotting and harvesting. I already have 32 plots and more on the way. Not bad for a computer newbie. As my internal HDD fills up I want to us a NAS (Synology DS1520+ DiskStation) for the Farming (not plotting) of Chia. Could you share how to set up a NAS diskstation for harvesting or show me where to look for that information? Remember, this is all new to me.

    Like

    • There are a few reddit posts on r/chia about setting up farming on Synology in Docker, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. I’d suggest just using it as a file share and continuing to farm on your desktop.

      I have my Synology devices mounted as network drives on my Windows PC and just point Chia at them. On gui, go to Plots, tap 3 dots next to Add Plots, choose Add Plot Directory. Note that Chia will translate Q: to \\192.168.0.xxx\chia in the list. That’s fine.

      On CLI, go to your daemon directory and do “chia plots add -d Q:” or whatever.

      Like

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