Euny Hong is the former supervising editor at She is also the author of two critically-acclaimed, published books.

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Julius' business experience is dynamic và includes leading the finance & operations management teams of companies in multiple industries which include real estate, logistics, financial services, và non profit organizations.

What Is Bitcoin Mining?

Bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoins are entered into lớn circulation, but it is also a critical component of the maintenance và development of the blockchain ledger. It is performed using very sophisticated computers that solve extremely complex computational math problems.

Cryptocurrency mining is painstaking, costly, & only sporadically rewarding. Nonetheless, mining has a magnetic appeal for many investors interested in cryptocurrency because of the fact that miners are rewarded for their work with crypkhổng lồ tokens. This may be because entrepreneurial typessee mining as pennies from heaven, lượt thích California gold prospectors in 1849. And if you are technologically inclined, why not bởi vì it?

However, before you invest the time và equipment, read this explainer khổng lồ see whether mining is really for you. We will focus primarily on Bitcoin (throughout, we"ll use "Bitcoin" when referring to lớn the network or the cryptocurrency as a concept, và "bitcoin" when we"re referring lớn a quantity of individual tokens).

By mining, you can earn cryptocurrency without having khổng lồ put down money for it.Bitcoin miners receive Bitcoin as a reward for completing "blocks" of verified transactions, which are added khổng lồ the blockchain.Mining rewards are paid lớn the miner who discovers a solution lớn a complex hashing puzzle first, & the probability that a participant will be the one to lớn discover the solution is related to the portion of the total mining power on the network.You need either a GPU (graphics processing unit) oran application-specific integrated circuit(ASIC) in order to mix up a mining rig.

A New Gold Rush

The primary draw for many mining is the prospect of being rewarded with Bitcoin. That said, you certainly don"t have to be a miner lớn own cryptocurrency tokens.You can alsobuy cryptocurrencies using fiat currency; you can trade it on an exchange lượt thích Bitstamp using another cryplớn (as an example, using Ethereum or NEO khổng lồ buy Bitcoin); you even can earn it by shopping, publishing blog postson platforms that pay users in cryptocurrency, or even mix up interest-earning cryplớn accounts.

An example of a crypto lớn blog platkhung is Steemit, which is kind of lượt thích Medium except that users can reward bloggers by paying them in a proprietary cryptocurrency called STEEM.STEEM can then be traded elsewhere for Bitcoin.

The Bitcoin reward that miners receive is an incentive that motivates people khổng lồ assist in the primary purpose of mining: to lớn legitimize & monitor Bitcoin transactions, ensuring their validity. Because these responsibilities are spread among mỏi many users all over the world, Bitcoin is a "decentralized" cryptocurrency, or one that does not rely on any central authority lượt thích a central bank or government khổng lồ oversee its regulation.

How to Mine Bitcoins

Miners are getting paid for their work as auditors. They are doing the work of verifying the legitimacy of Bitcoin transactions. This convention is meant lớn keep Bitcoin users honestvà was conceived by Bitcoin"s founder, Satoshi Nakamolớn. By verifying transactions, miners are helping to prsự kiện the "double-spending problem."

Double spending is a scenario in which a Bitcoin owner illicitly spends the same bitcoin twice. With physical currency, this isn"t an issue: once you hvà someone a $đôi mươi bill to buy a bottle of vodka, you no longer have sầu it, so there"s no danger you could use that same $20 bill khổng lồ buy lotlớn tickets next door. While there is the possibility of counterfeit cash being made, it is not exactly the same as literally spending the same dollar twice. With digital currency, however,as the dictionary explains, "there is a risk that the holder could make a copy of the digital token và sover it to a merchant or another tiệc nhỏ while retaining the original."

Let"s say you had one legitimate $đôi mươi bill and one counterfeit of that same $trăng tròn. If you were khổng lồ try to lớn spkết thúc both the real bill and the giả one, someone that took the trouble of looking at both of the bills" serial numbers would see that they were the same number, và thus one of them had to lớn be false. What a Bitcoin miner does is analogous khổng lồ that—they kiểm tra transactions khổng lồ make sure that users have sầu not illegitimately tried lớn spend the same bitcoin twice. This isn"t a perfect analogy—we"ll explain in more detail below.

Once miners have verified 1 MB (megabyte) worth of Bitcoin transactions, known as a "blochồng," those miners are eligible to be rewarded with a quantity of bitcoins (more about the bitcoin reward below as well). The 1 MB limit was mix by Satoshi Nakamolớn, và is a matter of controversy, as some miners believe the block form size should be increased lớn accommodate more data, which would effectively mean that the bitcoin network could process & verify transactions more quickly.

lưu ý that verifying 1 MB worth of transactions makes a coin minereligibleto lớn earn bitcoin—not everyone who verifies transactions will get paid out.

1MB of transactions can theoretically be as small as one transaction (though this is not at all common) or several thousvà. It depends on how much data the transactions take up.

"So after all that work of verifying transactions, I might still not get any bitcoin for it?"

That is correct. To earn bitcoins, you need to lớn meet two conditions. One is a matter of effort; one is a matter of luck:


The good news: No advanced math or computation is involved. You may have sầu heard that miners are solving difficult mathematical problems—that"s not exactly true. What they"re actuallydoing is trying lớn bethe first miner to lớn come up with a 64-digit hexadecimal number (a "hash")that is less than or equal lớn the target hash. It"s basically guesswork.

The bad news: It"s guesswork, but with the total number of possible guesses for each of these problems being on the order of trillions, it"s incredibly arduous work. In order lớn solve a problem first, miners need a lot of computing power. To mine successfully, you need lớn have a high "hash rate," which is measured in terms of megahashesper second (MH/s), gigahashes per second (GH/s), and terahashes per second (TH/s).

If you want to lớn estimate how much bitcoin you could mine with your mining rig"s hash rate, the site Cryptocompare offers a helpful calculator.

Mining and Bitcoin Circulation

In addition lớn lining the pockets of miners & supporting the Bitcoin ecosystem, mining serves another vital purpose: It is the only way to release new cryptocurrency inkhổng lồ circulation. In other words, miners are basically "minting" currency. For example, as of Nov. 20đôi mươi, there were around 18.5 million bitcoins in circulation.

Aside from the coins minted via the genesis bloông xã (the very first bloông xã, which was created by founder Satoshi Nakamoto), every single one of those bitcoins came into being because of miners. In the absence of miners, Bitcoin as a network would still exist and be usable, but there would never be any additional bitcoin. There will eventually come a time when Bitcoin mining ends; per the Bitcoin Protocol, the total number of bitcoins will be capped at 21 million.

However, because the rate of bitcoin "mined" is reduced over time, the final bitcoin won"t be circulated until around the year 2140. This does not mean that transactions will cease khổng lồ be verified. Miners will continue khổng lồ verify transactions & will be paid in fees for doing so in order to keep the integrity of Bitcoin"s network.

Aside from the short-term Bitcoin payoff, being a coin miner can give you "voting" power when changes are proposed in the Bitcoin network protocol. In other words, miners have a degree of influence on the decision-making process on such matters asforking.

How Much a Miner Earns

The rewards for Bitcoin mining are reduced by half every four years. When bitcoin was first mined in 2009, mining one bloông xã would earn you 50 BTC. In 2012, this was halved lớn 25 BTC. By năm 2016, this was halved again khổng lồ 12.5 BTC. On May 11, 20đôi mươi, therewardhalved again khổng lồ 6.25BTC. In November of 20trăng tròn, the price of Bitcoin was about $17,900 per bitcoin, which means you"d earn $111,875 (6.25 x 17,900) for completing a blochồng. Not a bad incentive to solve that complex hash problem detailed above sầu, it might seem.

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If you want khổng lồ keep track of precisely when these halvings will occur, you can consult the Bitcoin Cloông xã, which updates this information in real-time. Interestingly, the market price of Bitcoin has, throughout its history, tended to correspond closely lớn the reduction of new coins entered inkhổng lồ circulation. This lowering inflation rate increased scarthành phố and historically the price has risen with it.

If you are interested in seeing how many blocks have been mined thus far, there are several sites,,that will give youthatinformation in real-time.

What Do I Need to Mine Bitcoins?

Although early on in Bitcoin"s history individuals may have been able khổng lồ compete for blocks with a regular at-home page computer, this is no longer the case. The reason for this is that the difficulty of mining Bitcoin changes over time.

In order lớn ensure the smooth functioning of the blockchain và its ability to lớn process and verify transactions, the Bitcoin network aims khổng lồ have sầu one blochồng produced every 10 minutes or so. However, if there are one million mining rigs competing to lớn solve the hash problem, they"ll likely reach a solution faster than a scenario in which 10 mining rigs are working on the same problem. For that reason, Bitcoin is designed khổng lồ evaluate và adjust the difficulty of mining every 2,016 blocks, or roughly every two weeks.

When there is more computing power collectively working to lớn mine for bitcoins, the difficulty level of mining increases in order khổng lồ keep bloông xã production at a stable rate. Less computing power means the difficulty màn chơi decreases. To get a sense of just how much computing power is involved, when Bitcoin launched in 2009 the initial difficulty màn chơi was one. As of Nov. 2019, it is more than 13 trillion.

All of this is to say that, in order to lớn mine competitively, miners must now invest in powerful computer equipment lượt thích a GPU (graphics processing unit) or, more realistically, an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). These can run from $500 lớn the tens of thousands.Some miners—particularly Ethereum miners—buy individual graphics cards (GPUs) as a low-cost waylớn cobble together mining operations.

The pholớn below is a makeshift, homemade mining machine.The graphics cards are those rectangular blocks with whirring fans.lưu ý the sandwich twist-ties holding the graphics cards to lớn the metal pole. This is probably not the most efficient way to lớn mine, and as you can guess, many miners are in it as much for the fun & challenge as for the money.

The "Explain It Like I'm Five" Version

The ins và outs of Bitcoin mining can be difficult khổng lồ underst& as is. Consider this illustrative example of how the hash problem works: I tell threefriends that I"m thinking of a number between one & 100, & I write that number on a piece of paper & seal it in an envelope. My friends don"t have khổng lồ guess the exact number; they just have sầu to lớn be the first person to lớn guess any number that is less than or equal tothe number I am thinking of. And there is no limit khổng lồ how many guesses they get.

Let"s say I"m thinking of the number 19. If Friend A guesses 21, they thua because of 21>19. If Friover B guesses 16 and Friover C guesses 12, then they"ve both theoretically arrived at viable answers, because of 16 orphan blochồng." Orphan blocks are those that are not added to lớn the blockchain. Miners who successfully solve the hash problem but who haven"t verified the most transactions are not rewarded with bitcoin.


The number above sầu has 64 digits. Easy enough khổng lồ underst& so far. As you probably noticed, that number consists not just of numbers, but also letters of the alphabet. Why is that?

"Hexadecimal," on the other hvà, means base 16, as "hex" is derived from the Greek word for six và "deca" is derived from the Greek word for 10.In a hexadecimal system, each digit has 16 possibilities. But our numeric system only offers 10 ways of representing numbers (zero through nine). That"s why you have sầu lớn stichồng letters in, specifically letters a, b, c, d, e, và f.

If you are mining Bitcoin, you vày not need lớn calculate the total value of that 64-digit number (the hash). I repeat: You vì not need to lớn calculate the total value of a hash.


Remember that ELI5 analogy, where I wrote the number 19 on a piece of paper và put it in a sealed envelope?

In theory, you could achieve the same goal by rolling a 16-sided die 64 times to lớn arrive at random numbers, but why on earth would you want to vị that?

The screenshot below, taken from the site, might help you put all this information together at a glance. You are looking at a summary of everything that happened when block #490163 was mined. The nonce that generated the "winning" hash was 731511405. The target hash is shown on top. The term "Relayed by Antpool" refers lớn the fact that this particular bloông xã was completed by AntPool, one of the more successful mining pools (more about mining pools below).

As you see here, their contribution khổng lồ the Bitcoin community is that they confirmed 1768 transactions for this block. If you really want to see all 1768 of those transactions for this bloông chồng, go lớn this page và scroll down khổng lồ the heading "Transactions."



Here are some examples of randomized hashes và the criteria for whether they will lead lớn success for the miner:


You"d have to get a fast mining rig, or, more realistically, join a mining pool—a group of coin miners who combine their computing power and split the mined Bitcoin. Mining pools are comparable lớn those Powerball clubs whose members buy lottery tickets en masse & agree khổng lồ share any winnings. A disproportionately large number of blocks are mined by pools rather than by individual miners.


(Source: Cryptocompare)

"I've sầu done the math. Forget mining. Is there a less onerous way khổng lồ profit from cryptocurrencies?"

As mentioned above, the easiest way to acquire Bitcoin is to lớn simply buy it on one of the many exchanges. Alternately, you can always leverage the "pickaxe strategy." This is based on the old saw that during the1849 California gold rush, the smart investment was not lớn pan for gold, but rather khổng lồ make the pickaxes used for mining.

To put it in modern terms, invest in the companies that manufacture those pickaxes. In a cryptocurrency context, the pickaxe equivalent would be a company that manufactures equipment used for Bitcoin mining. You may consider looking inlớn companies that make ASICs equipment or GPUs instead, for example.

Is Bitcoin Mining Legal?

The legality of Bitcoin mining depends entirely on your geographic location. The concept of Bitcoin can threaten the dominance of fiat currencies & government control over the financial markets. For this reason, Bitcoin is completely illegal in certain places.

Bitcoin ownership & mining are legal in more countries than not. Some examples of places where it is illegal are Algeria, Egypt, Morocteo, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nepal, và Pakistung. Overall, Bitcoin use and mining are legal across much of the globe.

Risks of Mining

The risks of mining are often that of financial risk & a regulatory one. As mentioned, Bitcoin mining, & mining in general, is a financial risk. One could go through all the effort of purchasing hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of mining equipment only to lớn have sầu no return on their investment. That said, this risk can be mitigated by joining mining pools. If you are considering mining & live in an area that it is prohibited you should reconsider. It may also be a good idea to lớn research your countries regulation & overall sentiment towards cryptocurrency before investing in mining equipment.

One additional potential risk from the growth of Bitcoin mining (và other proof-of-work systems as well) is the increasing energy usage required by the computer systems running the mining algorithms. While microchip efficiency has increased dramatically for ASIC chips, the growth of the network itself is outpacing technological progress. As a result, there are concerns about the environmental impact & carbon footprint of Bitcoin mining.

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There are, however, efforts to lớn mitigate this negative externality by seeking cleaner & green energy sources for mining operations (such as geothermal or solar), as well as utilizing carbon offphối credits. Switching to lớn less energy-intensive sầu consensus mechanisms lượt thích proof-of-stake (PoS), which Ethereum is planning to vì, is another strategy; however, PoS comes with its own set of drawbacks and inefficiencies.