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Upgrading Gaia

This guide provides instructions for upgrading Gaia from v15.2.x to v16.0.0.

This document describes the steps for validators, full node operators and relayer operators, to upgrade successfully for the Gaia v16 release.

For more details on the release, please see the release notes

Relayer Operators for the Cosmos Hub and consumer chains, will also need to update to use Hermes v1.8.0 or higher. You may need to restart your relayer software after a major chain upgrade.

Release Binary

Please use the correct release binary: v16.0.0.


On-chain governance proposal attains consensus

Once a software upgrade governance proposal is submitted to the Cosmos Hub, both a reference to this proposal and an UPGRADE_HEIGHT are added to the release notes. If and when this proposal reaches consensus, the upgrade height will be used to halt the "old" chain binaries. You can check the proposal on one of the block explorers or using the gaiad CLI tool.

Upgrade date

The date/time of the upgrade is subject to change as blocks are not generated at a constant interval. You can stay up-to-date by checking the estimated estimated time until the block is produced one of the block explorers (e.g.`UPGRADE_HEIGHT`).

Preparing for the upgrade


Prior to the upgrade, validators are encouraged to take a full data snapshot. Snapshotting depends heavily on infrastructure, but generally this can be done by backing up the .gaia directory. If you use Cosmovisor to upgrade, by default, Cosmovisor will backup your data upon upgrade. See below upgrade using cosmovisor section.

It is critically important for validator operators to back-up the .gaia/data/priv_validator_state.json file after stopping the gaiad process. This file is updated every block as your validator participates in consensus rounds. It is a critical file needed to prevent double-signing, in case the upgrade fails and the previous chain needs to be restarted.


For those validator and full node operators that are interested in ensuring preparedness for the impending upgrade, you can run a v16 Local Testnet or join in our Cosmos Hub Public Testnet.

Current runtime

The Cosmos Hub mainnet network, cosmoshub-4, is currently running Gaia v15.2.0. We anticipate that operators who are running on v15.2.0, will be able to upgrade successfully. Validators are expected to ensure that their systems are up to date and capable of performing the upgrade. This includes running the correct binary and if building from source, building with the appropriate go version.

Target runtime

The Cosmos Hub mainnet network, cosmoshub-4, will run Gaia v16.0.0. Operators MUST use this version post-upgrade to remain connected to the network. The new version requires go v1.21 to build successfully.

Upgrade steps

There are 2 ways to upgrade a node:

  • Manual upgrade
  • Upgrade using Cosmovisor
    • Either by manually preparing the new binary
    • Or by using the auto-download functionality (this is not yet recommended)

If you prefer to use Cosmovisor to upgrade, some preparation work is needed before upgrade.

Method I: Manual Upgrade

Make sure Gaia v15.2.0 is installed by either downloading a compatible binary, or building from source. Check the required version to build this binary in the Makefile.

Run Gaia v15.2.0 till upgrade height, the node will panic:

ERR UPGRADE "v16" NEEDED at height: <UPGRADE_HEIGHT>: upgrade to v16 and applying upgrade "v16" at height:<UPGRADE_HEIGHT>

Stop the node, and switch the binary to Gaia v16.0.0 and re-start by gaiad start.

It may take several minutes to a few hours until validators with a total sum voting power > 2/3 to complete their node upgrades. After that, the chain can continue to produce blocks.

Method II: Upgrade using Cosmovisor

Manually preparing the binary

  • Install the latest version of Cosmovisor (1.5.0):
go install
cosmovisor version
# cosmovisor version: v1.5.0
  • Create a cosmovisor folder inside $GAIA_HOME and move Gaia v15.2.0 into $GAIA_HOME/cosmovisor/genesis/bin:
mkdir -p $GAIA_HOME/cosmovisor/genesis/bin
cp $(which gaiad) $GAIA_HOME/cosmovisor/genesis/bin
  • Build Gaia v16.0.0, and move gaiad v16.0.0 to $GAIA_HOME/cosmovisor/upgrades/v16/bin
mkdir -p  $GAIA_HOME/cosmovisor/upgrades/v16/bin
cp $(which gaiad) $GAIA_HOME/cosmovisor/upgrades/v16/bin

At this moment, you should have the following structure:

├── current -> genesis or upgrades/<name>
├── genesis
│ └── bin
│ └── gaiad # old: v15.2.0
└── upgrades
└── v16
└── bin
└── gaiad # new: v16.0.0
  • Export the environmental variables:
export DAEMON_NAME=gaiad
# please change to your own gaia home dir
# please note `DAEMON_HOME` has to be absolute path
  • Start the node:
cosmovisor run start --x-crisis-skip-assert-invariants --home $DAEMON_HOME

Skipping the invariant checks is strongly encouraged since it decreases the upgrade time significantly and since there are some other improvements coming to the crisis module in the next release of the Cosmos SDK.

Expected upgrade result

When the upgrade block height is reached, Gaia will panic and stop:

This may take a few minutes. After upgrade, the chain will continue to produce blocks when validators with a total sum voting power > 2/3 complete their node upgrades.

Auto-Downloading the Gaia binary

Upgrade duration

The upgrade may take a few minutes to complete because cosmoshub-4 participants operate globally with differing operating hours and it may take some time for operators to upgrade their binaries and connect to the network.

Rollback plan

During the network upgrade, core Cosmos teams will be keeping an ever vigilant eye and communicating with operators on the status of their upgrades. During this time, the core teams will listen to operator needs to determine if the upgrade is experiencing unintended challenges. In the event of unexpected challenges, the core teams, after conferring with operators and attaining social consensus, may choose to declare that the upgrade will be skipped.

Steps to skip this upgrade proposal are simply to resume the cosmoshub-4 network with the (downgraded) v15.2.0 binary using the following command:

gaiad start --unsafe-skip-upgrade <UPGRADE_HEIGHT>

Note: There is no particular need to restore a state snapshot prior to the upgrade height, unless specifically directed by core Cosmos teams.

Important: A social consensus decision to skip the upgrade will be based solely on technical merits, thereby respecting and maintaining the decentralized governance process of the upgrade proposal's successful YES vote.


Operators are encouraged to join the #cosmos-hub-validators-verified channel of the Cosmos Hub Community Discord. This channel is the primary communication tool for operators to ask questions, report upgrade status, report technical issues, and to build social consensus should the need arise. This channel is restricted to known operators and requires verification beforehand. Requests to join the #cosmos-hub-validators-verified channel can be sent to the #general-support channel.


As a validator performing the upgrade procedure on your consensus nodes carries a heightened risk of double-signing and being slashed. The most important piece of this procedure is verifying your software version and genesis file hash before starting your validator and signing.

The riskiest thing a validator can do is discover that they made a mistake and repeat the upgrade procedure again during the network startup. If you discover a mistake in the process, the best thing to do is wait for the network to start before correcting it.


Join Cosmos Hub Mainnet