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Top Up Cycles for Canister on IC

Cycles is the native stablecoin for Internet Computer Protocol ("ICP") that measures the usage of computation resources in a canister smart contract including data storage and update calls (query calls are currently free). To ensure your website/Dapp can keep up and running, you need to top up cycles into the canister that hosts the website/Dapp regularly, in the same fashion that you would need to pay the bill to AWS/Digital Ocean every month in the Web2 era.

Page failed To load

One day, you see this on your website hosted on IC with a "Page failed to load" error. Ops!

failed to load


Do not panic

Open up the Developer Console from your browser for the detailed error messages.

Error: Call failed:
Canister: hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai
Method: http_request (query)
"Status": "rejected"
"Code": "CanisterError"
"Message": "IC0501: Canister hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai is unable to process query calls because it's frozen. Please top up the canister with cycles and try again."
at actor.js:158:27
at async Oe (utils.ts:110:13)
at async Gr.assetRequestHandler (index.ts:84:19)
at async Gr.perform (index.ts:36:19)

So the canister hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai has insufficient cycles.

Check canister's cycles balance

In Terminal window, go to the root directory of the dfx code that has dfx.json file.

cat canister_ids.json
"hyxyz": {
"ic": "hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai"

This is the ID of the canister where cycles balance is running low. Check its balance on the ic network.

dfx canister --network=ic status hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai
Error: Failed to get canister status for 'hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai'.
Caused by: Failed to get canister status for 'hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai'.
Failed to get canister status of hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai.
Failed to call update function 'canister_status' regarding canister 'hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai'.
Update call (without wallet) failed.
The replica returned an HTTP Error: Http Error: status 503 Service Unavailable, content type "text/plain", content: Canister hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai is out of cycles: requested 1_316_000 cycles but the available balance is 70_136_530_232 cycles and the freezing threshold 84_697_292_220 cycles

So for this canister hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai with all the files and update calls, its freezing threshold is currently 84_697_292_220 cycles. If cycles are lower than this, the canister will become frozen and inaccessible. The remaining balance of the canister is only 70_136_530_232 cycles. So, it's time to top up. It looks like we need at least additional 15 billion cycles.

Top up cycles

Find out how much cycles you have in the cycles wallet that is connected to this canister. It has 2.174 trillion cycles.

dfx wallet --network=ic balance
2.174 TC (trillion cycles).

Let's top up 15 billion cycles.


9 zeros make a billion

dfx canister --network=ic deposit-cycles 15000000000 hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai
Depositing 15000000000 cycles onto hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai
Deposited 15000000000 cycles, updated balance: 85_117_545_244 cycles

Verify that the cycles wallet's new balance is 15 billion cycles less.

dfx wallet --network=ic balance
2.159 TC (trillion cycles).

Verify balance

After depositing another 100 billion cycles, check the new balance of the canister. All systems Go now.

dfx canister --network=ic status hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai
Canister status call result for hbc6w-gqaaa-aaaag-aagdq-cai.
Status: Running
Controllers: iyr2m-aiaaa-aaaag-aaa2q-cai lwhis-d5gpt-zbgse-qdivc-jmt5p-smhdq-h2dbt-vbh7x-h4g4d-tyg2x-zqe yxaiy-ge4x3-xwdqi-r5kim-46lbl-52ulu-46sx7-hzhev-mrsqr-mvygl-eae
Memory allocation: 0
Compute allocation: 0
Freezing threshold: 2_592_000
Memory Size: Nat(276268060)
Balance: 185_090_349_536 Cycles
Module hash: 0x98863747bb8b1366ae5e3c5721bfe08ce6b7480fe4c3864d4fec3d9827255480

Other top-up methods

Other methods can be found in DFINITY team's documentation on topping up canister.

Also ninegua has created a Canister Tip Jar DApp ( where anyone can donate cycles to a third-party canister if that canister has a blackhole controller. It's pretty neat.

Like it? A donation or tip would go a long way.

  BTC  14DYUJw7SYszhDtn3UHhRwV9WpmGWeFAve
  ETH  0xCfB04B53C05488Ac0aC4F47C9550e8Ca1eaA476e
  ICP  d80bd36baca1a0166e812c0f669ffaa222a7c6b6f2a8e3f5c690bafe251aaf4b