How Bitcoin Mining Works
Where do bitcoins come from? With paper money, a government decides when to print and distribute money. Bitcoin doesn’t have a central government.
With Bitcoin, miners use special software to solve math problems and are issued a certain number of bitcoins in exchange. This provides a smart way to issue the currency and also creates an incentive for more people to mine.
Bitcoin is Secure
Bitcoin miners help keep the Bitcoin network secure by approving transactions. Mining is an important and integral part of Bitcoin that ensures fairness while keeping the Bitcoin network stable, safe and secure.
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Bitcoin Mining Hardware Comparison
Currently, based on (1) price per hash and (2) electrical efficiency the best Bitcoin miner options are:
- Overview — Table of Contents
- Mining Hardware Comparison
- What is Bitcoin Mining?
- What is the Blockchain?
- What is Proof of Work?
- What is Bitcoin Mining Difficulty?
- The Computationally-Difficult Problem
- The Bitcoin Network Difficulty Metric
- The Block Reward
Bitcoin mining is the process of adding transaction records to Bitcoin’s public ledger of past transactions or blockchain. This ledger of past transactions is called the block chain as it is a chain of blocks. The block chain serves to confirm transactions to the rest of the network as having taken place.
Bitcoin nodes use the block chain to distinguish legitimate Bitcoin transactions from attempts to re-spend coins that have already been spent elsewhere.
What is Bitcoin Mining?
What is the Blockchain?
Bitcoin mining is intentionally designed to be resource-intensive and difficult so that the number of blocks found each day by miners remains steady. Individual blocks must contain a proof of work to be considered valid. This proof of work is verified by other Bitcoin nodes each time they receive a block. Bitcoin uses the hashcash proof-of-work function.
The primary purpose of mining is to allow Bitcoin nodes to reach a secure, tamper-resistant consensus. Mining is also the mechanism used to introduce Bitcoins into the system: Miners are paid any transaction fees as well as a «subsidy» of newly created coins.
This both serves the purpose of disseminating new coins in a decentralized manner as well as motivating people to provide security for the system.
Bitcoin mining is so called because it resembles the mining of other commodities: it requires exertion and it slowly makes new currency available at a rate that resembles the rate at which commodities like gold are mined from the ground.
What is Proof of Work?
A proof of work is a piece of data which was difficult (costly, time-consuming) to produce so as to satisfy certain requirements. It must be trivial to check whether data satisfies said requirements.
Producing a proof of work can be a random process with low probability, so that a lot of trial and error is required on average before a valid proof of work is generated. Bitcoin uses the Hashcash proof of work.
What is Bitcoin Mining Difficulty?
The Computationally-Difficult Problem
Bitcoin mining a block is difficult because the SHA-256 hash of a block’s header must be lower than or equal to the target in order for the block to be accepted by the network.
This problem can be simplified for explanation purposes: The hash of a block must start with a certain number of zeros. The probability of calculating a hash that starts with many zeros is very low, therefore many attempts must be made. In order to generate a new hash each round, a nonce is incremented. See Proof of work for more information.
The Bitcoin Network Difficulty Metric
The Bitcoin mining network difficulty is the measure of how difficult it is to find a new block compared to the easiest it can ever be. It is recalculated every 2016 blocks to a value such that the previous 2016 blocks would have been generated in exactly two weeks had everyone been mining at this difficulty. This will yield, on average, one block every ten minutes.
As more miners join, the rate of block creation will go up. As the rate of block generation goes up, the difficulty rises to compensate which will push the rate of block creation back down. Any blocks released by malicious miners that do not meet the required difficulty target will simply be rejected by everyone on the network and thus will be worthless.
The Block Reward
When a block is discovered, the discoverer may award themselves a certain number of bitcoins, which is agreed-upon by everyone in the network. Currently this bounty is 25 bitcoins; this value will halve every 210,000 blocks. See Controlled Currency Supply.
Additionally, the miner is awarded the fees paid by users sending transactions. The fee is an incentive for the miner to include the transaction in their block. In the future, as the number of new bitcoins miners are allowed to create in each block dwindles, the fees will make up a much more important percentage of mining income.
Bitcoin Mining Guide — Getting started with Bitcoin mining
Bitcoin mining is difficult to do profitably but if you try then this Bitcoin miner is probably a good shot.
How Bitcoin Mining Works
Before you start mining Bitcoin, it’s useful to understand what Bitcoin mining really means. Bitcoin mining is legal and is accomplished by running SHA256 double round hash verification processes in order to validate Bitcoin transactions and provide the requisite security for the public ledger of the Bitcoin network. The speed at which you mine Bitcoins is measured in hashes per second.
The Bitcoin network compensates Bitcoin miners for their effort by releasing bitcoin to those who contribute the needed computational power. This comes in the form of both newly issued bitcoins and from the transaction fees included in the transactions validated when mining bitcoins. The more computing power you contribute then the greater your share of the reward.
Step 1 — Get The Best Bitcoin Mining Hardware
Purchasing Bitcoins — In some cases, you may need to purchase mining hardware with bitcoins. Today, you can purchase most hardware on Amazon. You also may want to check the bitcoin charts.
How To Start Bitcoin Mining
To begin mining bitcoins, you’ll need to acquire bitcoin mining hardware. In the early days of bitcoin, it was possible to mine with your computer CPU or high speed video processor card. Today that’s no longer possible. Custom Bitcoin ASIC chips offer performance up to 100x the capability of older systems have come to dominate the Bitcoin mining industry.
Bitcoin mining with anything less will consume more in electricity than you are likely to earn. It’s essential to mine bitcoins with the best bitcoin mining hardware built specifically for that purpose. Several companies such as Avalon offer excellent systems built specifically for bitcoin mining.
Best Bitcoin Cloud Mining Services
Another option is to purchase in Bitcoin cloud mining contracts. This greatly simplifies the process but increases risk because you do not control the actual physical hardware.
Being listed in this section is NOT an endorsement of these services. There have been a tremendous amount of Bitcoin cloud mining scams.
Hashflare Review: Hashflare offers SHA-256 mining contracts and more profitable SHA-256 coins can be mined while automatic payouts are still in BTC. Customers must purchase at least 10 GH/s.
Genesis Mining Review: Genesis Mining is the largest Bitcoin and scrypt cloud mining provider. Genesis Mining offers three Bitcoin cloud mining plans that are reasonably priced. Zcash mining contracts are also available.
Hashing 24 Review: Hashing24 has been involved with Bitcoin mining since 2012. They have facilities in Iceland and Georgia. They use modern ASIC chips from BitFury deliver the maximum performance and efficiency possible.
Minex Review: Minex is an innovative aggregator of blockchain projects presented in an economic simulation game format. Users purchase Cloudpacks which can then be used to build an index from pre-picked sets of cloud mining farms, lotteries, casinos, real-world markets and much more.
Minergate Review: Offers both pool and merged mining and cloud mining services for Bitcoin.
Hashnest Review: Hashnest is operated by Bitmain, the producer of the Antminer line of Bitcoin miners. HashNest currently has over 600 Antminer S7s for rent. You can view the most up-to-date pricing and availability on Hashnest’s website. At the time of writing one Antminer S7’s hash rate can be rented for $1,200.
Bitcoin Cloud Mining Review: Currently all Bitcoin Cloud Mining contracts are sold out.
NiceHash Review: NiceHash is unique in that it uses an orderbook to match mining contract buyers and sellers. Check its website for up-to-date prices.
Eobot Review: Start cloud mining Bitcoin with as little as $10. Eobot claims customers can break even in 14 months.
MineOnCloud Review: MineOnCloud currently has about 35 TH/s of mining equipment for rent in the cloud. Some miners available for rent include AntMiner S4s and S5s.
Bitcoin Mining Hardware Comparison
Currently, based on (1) price per hash and (2) electrical efficiency the best Bitcoin miner options are:
What is Bitcoin Mining?
Bitcoin Mining is a peer-to-peer computer process used to secure and verify bitcoin transactions—payments from one user to another on a decentralized network. Mining involves adding bitcoin transaction data to Bitcoin’s global public ledger of past transactions. Each group of transactions is called a block. Blocks are secured by Bitcoin miners and build on top of each other forming a chain. This ledger of past transactions is called the blockchain. The blockchain serves to confirm transactions to the rest of the network as having taken place. Bitcoin nodes use the blockchain to distinguish legitimate Bitcoin transactions from attempts to re-spend coins that have already been spent elsewhere.
What is Proof-of-Work?
Bitcoin Mining is intentionally designed to be resource-intensive and difficult so that the number of blocks found each day by miners remains steady over time, producing a controlled finite monetary supply. Individual blocks must contain a proof-of-work to be considered valid. This proof-of-work (PoW) is verified by other Bitcoin nodes each time they receive a block. Bitcoin uses a PoW function to protect against double-spending, which also makes Bitcoin’s ledger immutable.
How Does Mining Create New Bitcoins?
The primary purpose of mining is to allow Bitcoin nodes to reach a secure, tamper-resistant consensus. Mining is also the mechanism used to introduce bitcoins into the system. Miners are paid transaction fees as well as a subsidy of newly created coins, called block rewards. This both serves the purpose of disseminating new coins in a decentralized manner as well as motivating people to provide security for the system through mining.
What Are Bitcoin Mining Pools?
During the last several years an incredible amount of Bitcoin mining power (hashrate) has come online making it harder for individuals to have enough hashrate to single-handedly solve a block and earn the payout reward. To compensate for this pool mining was introduced. Pooled mining is a mining approach where groups of individual miners contribute to the generation of a block, and then split the block reward according the contributed processing power.
Introducing the Bitcoin.com Mining Pool
Bitcoin.com has developed its own modern Bitcoin mining pool which offers two different payout methods, Pay Per Share (PPS) and Pay Per Last N Shares (PPLNS). Start mining on pool.bitcoin.com today to take advantage of our competitive cloud mining contracts.
Bitcoin Mining Methods Comparison
Bitcoin Mining Explained
Bitcoin cloud mining can be a tricky thing to determine if it’s completely safe in the Bitcoin world, and if it is, will it be cost effective? The return on your investment can be longer than other alternatives such as buying and selling Bitcoin. This can be due to the fees involved, the time it takes to mine, the upfront costs and the value of Bitcoin during that time. The upside is that if the costs are reasonable, the cloud mining operation has good rewards and the price of Bitcoin rises, you will more than likely end up making a healthy return on your investment.
Your first task is to find a reputable cloud mining provider. One of the best ways to make sure you have a reputable service is to look on industry news sites, forums, and reddit sub-forums to check out lists of cloud services and customer feedback on them. Continue Reading ➞
Bitcoin mining profitability is something that is always in flux. With Bitcoin having such a high difficulty and large total hashrate, at times profitability can come down to several things.
The first set of data you will want to use for discovering if Bitcoin mining can be profitable for you or not is the following but not limited to: cost of Bitcoin ASIC miner(s), cost of electricity to power miner (how much you are charged per kwh), cost of equipment to run the miner(s), cost of PSU (power supply unit), cost of network gear, cost of internet access, costs of other supporting gear like shelving, racks, cables, etc., cost of building or data center if applicable. Continue Reading ➞
Bitcoin mining is competitive and the goal is that you want to solve or “find” a block before anyone else’s miner does. Then you will get the block reward and transaction fees from the block. During the last several years we have seen an incredible amount of hashrate coming online which made it harder to have enough hashrate personally (individually) to solve a block, thus getting the payout reward. To compensate for this pool mining was developed.
What a mining pool does is accept connections from miners anywhere in the world (if applicable and some are private) and pool their hashrate together thus mining with a higher total hashrate. In doing this the variance or luck of finding block is increased to the positive by having a larger total hashrate. Continue Reading ➞
Bitcoin mining is the processing of transactions on the Bitcoin network and securing them into the blockchain. Each set of transactions that are processed is a block. The block is secured by the miners. Miners do this by creating a hash that is created from the transactions in the block. This cryptographic hash is then added to the block. The next block of transactions will look to the previous block’s hash to verify it is legitimate. Then your miner will attempt to create a new block that contains current transactions and new hash before anyone else’s miner can do so.
Since the difficulty of Bitcoin mining is very high now people will pool their miners together to have a better chance of creating a block and having it confirmed before other miners for a share of the current mining reward which is 12.5 Bitcoin, plus any transaction fees. We will cover pool mining later in the guide. Continue Reading ➞
This wiki is maintained by the Bitcoin community.
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority: transaction management and money issuance are carried out collectively by the network.
The original Bitcoin software by Satoshi Nakamoto was released under the MIT license. Most client software, derived or «from scratch», also use open source licensing.
Bitcoin is the first successful implementation of a distributed crypto-currency, described in part in 1998 by Wei Dai on the cypherpunks mailing list. Building upon the notion that money is any object, or any sort of record, accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context, Bitcoin is designed around the idea of using cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money, rather than relying on central authorities.
Bitcoins have all the desirable properties of a money-like good. They are portable, durable, divisible, recognizable, fungible, scarce and difficult to counterfeit.
Bitcoin can also be a store of value, some have said it is a «swiss bank account in your pocket».
- Stored Bitcoins:
- Cannot be printed or debased. Only 21 million bitcoins will ever exist.
- Have no storage costs. They take up no physical space regardless of amount.
- Are easy to protect and hide. Can be stored encrypted on a hard disk or paper backup.
- Are in your direct possession with no counterparty risk. If you keep the private key of a bitcoin secret and the transaction has enough confirmations, then nobody can take them from you no matter for what reason, no matter how good the excuse, no matter what.
What is Bitcoin Mining and is it Profitable?
Last updated: 10.16.18
If you’re heard about Bitcoin then you probably heard about Bitcoin mining as well – the concept of “creating” Bitcoins from your computer. The following post will give you a complete overview of what Bitcoin mining is and is it still profitable today.
Bitcoin mining is the process of updating the ledger of Bitcoin transactions known as the blockchain. Mining is done by running extremely powerful computers (known as ASICs) that race against other miners in an attempt to guess a specific number. The first miner to guess the number gets to update the ledger of transactions and also receives a reward of newly minted Bitcoins (currently the reward is 12.5 Bitcoins).
Today, in order to be profitable with Bitcoin mining you need to invest heavily in equipment, cooling and storage. It’s not possible to mine profitably with a PC or a GPU at home. You can calculate your profitability using a Bitcoin mining calculator.
If you want a more detailed non technical explanation about Bitcoin mining keep reading this post (there’s also a video version below). Here’s what we’ll go over:
Don’t like to read? Watch our video version of this guide
1. Why do we even need Bitcoin mining?
Bitcoin is a decentralized alternative to the banking system. This means that the system can operate and transfer funds from one account to the other without any central authority.
With a trusted central authority, transferring money is easy. Just tell the bank you want to remove $50 from your account and add it to someone else’s account. In this example, the bank has all the power because the bank is the only one that is allowed to update the ledger that holds the balances of everyone in the system.
But how do you create a system that has a decentralized ledger? How do you give someone the ability to update the ledger without giving them too much power—in case they become corrupt or negligent in their work?
Well, Bitcoin’s rules—also known as the Bitcoin protocol—solves this in a very creative way I like to call “Who Wants to Be a Banker?”
How Bitcoin mining works
In short, anyone who wants to participate in updating the ledger of Bitcoin transactions, known as the blockchain, can do so. All you need is to guess a random number that solves an equation generated by the system. Sounds simple, right?
Of course, this guessing is all done by your computer. The more powerful your computer is, the more guesses you can make in a second, increasing your chances of winning this game. If you manage to guess right, you earn bitcoins and get to write the “next page” of Bitcoin transactions on the blockchain.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the mining process:
1. Once your mining computer comes up with the right guess, your mining program determines which of the current pending transactions will be grouped together into the next block of transactions. Compiling this block represents your moment of glory, as you’ve now become a temporary banker of Bitcoin who gets to update the Bitcoin transaction ledger known as the blockchain.
2. The block you’ve created, along with your solution, is sent to the whole network so other computers can validate it. It’s a bit similar to a Rubik’s cube: The solution is very hard to achieve but very easy to validate.
3. Each computer that validates your solution updates its copy of the Bitcoin transaction ledger with the transactions that you chose to include in the block.
4. The system generates a fixed amount of bitcoins (currently 12.5) and rewards them to you as compensation for the time and energy you spent solving the math problem.
5. Additionally, you get paid any transaction fees that were attached to the transactions you inserted into the next block.
6. All the transactions in the block you’ve just entered are now confirmed by the Bitcoin network and are virtually irreversible.
Here’s a two-minute video showing the process of blocks and confirmations.
So that’s Bitcoin mining in a nutshell. It’s called mining because of the fact that this process helps “mine” new Bitcoins from the system. But if you think about it, the mining part is just a by-product of the transaction confirmation process. So the name is a bit misleading, since the main goal of mining is to maintain the ledger in a decentralized manner.
As you can imagine, since mining is based on a form of guessing, for each block, a different miner will guess the number and be granted the right to update the blockchain. Of course, the miners with more computing power will succeed more often, but due to the law of statistical probability, it’s highly unlikely that the same miner will succeed every time.
2. Mining difficulty
Now that you know what Bitcoin mining is, you might be thinking, “Cool! Free money! Where do I sign up?” Well, not so fast…
Satoshi Nakamoto, who invented Bitcoin, crafted the rules for mining in a way that the more mining power the network has, the harder it is to guess the answer to the mining math problem. So the difficulty of the mining process is actually self-adjusting to the accumulated mining power the network possesses.
If more miners join, it will get harder to solve the problem; if many of them drop off, it will get easier. This is known as mining difficulty.
Why on earth did Satoshi do this?
Well, he wanted to create a steady flow of new bitcoins into the system. In a sense, this was done to keep inflation in check. Mining difficulty is set so that, on average, a new block will be added every ten minutes (i.e., the number will be guessed every ten minutes on average).
Now, remember, this is on average. We can have two blocks being added minute after minute and then wait an hour for the next block. In the long run, this will even out to ten minutes on average.
As you can imagine, this type of self-adjusting mechanism has created a sort of “arms race” to get the most efficient and powerful miners as soon as possible.
3. The evolution of Bitcoin miners
When Bitcoin first started out, there weren’t a lot of miners out there. In fact, Satoshi, the inventor of Bitcoin, and his friend Hal Finney were a couple of the only people mining Bitcoin back at the time with their own personal computers.
Using your CPU (central processing unit—your computer’s brain and an integrated component in any computer) was enough for mining Bitcoin back in 2009, since mining difficulty was low. As Bitcoin started to catch on, people looked for more powerful mining solutions.
Gradually, people moved to GPU mining. A GPU (graphics processing unit) is a special component added to computers to carry out more complex calculations. GPUs were originally intended to allow gamers to run computer games with intense graphics requirements. Because of their architecture, they became popular in the field of cryptography, and around 2011, people also started using them to mine bitcoins. For reference, the mining power of one GPU equals that of around 30 CPUs.
Another evolution came later on with FPGA mining. FPGA is a piece of hardware that can be connected to a computer in order to run a set of calculations. They are just like GPUs but 3–100 times faster. The downside is that they’re harder to configure, which is why they weren’t as commonly used in mining as GPUs.
Finally, around 2013, a new breed of miner was introduced: the ASIC miner. ASIC stands for application specific integrated circuit, and these were pieces of hardware manufactured solely for the purpose of mining Bitcoin. Unlike GPUs, CPUs, and FPGAs, they couldn’t be used to do anything else. Their function was hardcoded into the machine.
Today, ASIC miners are the current mining standard. Some early ASIC miners even appeared in the form of a USB, but they became obsolete rather quickly. Even though they started out in 2013, the technology quickly evolved, and new, more powerful miners were coming out every six months.
After about three years of this crazy technological race, we finally reached a technological barrier, and things started to cool down a bit. Since 2016, the pace at which new miners are released has slowed considerably.
4. Bitcoin mining pools
Assuming you’re just entering the Bitcoin mining game, you’re up against some heavy competition. Even if you buy the best possible miner out there, you’re still at a huge disadvantage compared to professional Bitcoin mining farms.
That’s why mining pools came into existence. The idea is simple: miners group together to form a “pool” (i.e., combine their mining power to compete more effectively). Once the pool manages to win the competition, the reward is spread out between the pool members depending on how much mining power each of them contributed. This way, even small miners can join the mining game and have a chance of earning Bitcoin (though they get only a part of the reward).
Today there are over a dozen large pools that compete for the chance to mine Bitcoin and update the ledger.
5. Is Bitcoin mining profitable?
The short answer is “probably not”; the correct (and long) answer is “it depends on a lot of factors.”
When calculating Bitcoin mining profitability, there are a lot of things you need to take into account such as:
Hash rate: A Hash is the mathematical problem the miner’s computer needs to solve. The hash rate refers to your miner’s performance (i.e., how many guesses your computer can make per second). Hash rate can be measured in MH/s (mega hash per second), GH/s (giga hash per second), TH/s (terra hash per second), and even PH/s (peta hash per second).
Bitcoin reward per block: The number of Bitcoins generated when a miner finds the solution. This number started at 50 bitcoins back in 2009, and it’s halved every 210,000 blocks (about four years). The current number of bitcoins awarded per block is 12.5. The last block-halving occurred in July 2016, and the next one will be in 2020.
Mining difficulty: A number that represents how hard it is to mine bitcoins at any given moment considering the amount of mining power currently active in the system.
Electricity cost: How many dollars are you paying per kilowatt? You’ll need to find out your electricity rate in order to calculate profitability. This can usually be found on your monthly electricity bill. The reason this is important is that miners consume electricity, whether for powering up the miner or for cooling it down (these machines can get really hot).
Power consumption: Each miner consumes a different amount of energy. You’ll need to find out the exact power consumption of your miner before calculating profitability. This can be found easily with a quick search online or through this list. Power consumption is measured in watts.
Pool fees: If you’re mining through a mining pool (you should), then the pool will take a certain percentage of your earnings for rendering their service. Generally, this would be somewhere around 2%.
Bitcoin’s price: Since no one knows what Bitcoin’s price will be in the future, it’s hard to predict whether Bitcoin mining will be profitable. If you are planning to convert your mined bitcoins to any other currency in the future, this variable will have a significant impact on profitability.
Difficulty increase per year: This is probably the most important and elusive variable of them all. The idea is that since no one can actually predict the rate of miners joining the network, neither can anyone predict how difficult it will be to mine in six weeks, six months, or six years from now. In fact, in all the time Bitcoin has existed, its profitability has dropped only a handful of times—even at times when the price was relatively low.
The last two factors are the reason no one will ever be able to give a complete answer to the question “is Bitcoin mining profitable?”
Once you have all of these variables at hand you can insert them into a Bitcoin mining calculator (as can be seen below) and get an estimate of how many Bitcoins you will earn each month. If you can’t get a positive result on the calculator, it probably means you don’t have the right conditions for mining to be profitable.