Mining cryptocoins is an arms race that rewards early adopters. You might have heard of Bitcoin, the first decentralized cryptocurrency that was released in early 2009. Similar digital currencies have crept into the worldwide market since then, including a spin-off from Bitcoin called Bitcoin Cash. You can get in on the cryptocurrency rush if you take the time to learn the basics properly.
Which Alt-Coins Should Be Mined?
If you had started mining Bitcoins back in 2009, you could have earned thousands of dollars by now. At the same time, there are plenty of ways you could have lost money, too. Bitcoins are not a good choice for beginning miners who work on a small scale. The current up-front investment and maintenance costs, not to mention the sheer mathematical difficulty of the process, just doesn’t make it profitable for consumer-level hardware. Now, Bitcoin mining is reserved for large-scale operations only.
How Cryptocoin Mining Works
Let’s focus on mining ‘scrypt’ coins, namely Litecoins, Dogecoins, or Feathercoins. The whole focus of mining is to accomplish three things:
- Provide bookkeeping services to the coin network. Mining is essentially 24/7 computer accounting called ‘verifying transactions’.
- Get paid a small reward for your accounting services by receiving fractions of coins every couple of days.
- Keep your personal costs down, including electricity and hardware.
As a hobby venture, yes, cryptocoin mining can generate a small income of perhaps a dollar or two per day. In particular, the digital currencies mentioned above are very accessible for regular people to mine, and a person can recoup $1000 in hardware costs in about 18-24 months.
The Laundry List: What You Will Need to Mine Cryptocoins
You will need ten things to mine Litecoins, Dogecoins, and/or Feathercoins.
- A free private database called a coin wallet. This is a password-protected container that stores your earnings and keeps a network-wide ledger of transactions.
- A free mining software package, like this one from AMD, typically made up of cgminer and stratum.
- A membership in an online mining pool, which is a community of miners who combine their computers to increase profitability and income stability.
- Membership at an online currency exchange, where you can exchange your virtual coins for conventional cash, and vice versa.
- A reliable full-time internet connection, ideally 2 megabits per second or faster speed.
- A hardware setup location in your basement or other cool and air-conditioned space.
- A desktop or custom-built computer designed for mining. Yes, you may use your current computer to start, but you won’t be able to use the computer while the miner is running. A separate dedicated computer is ideal. Tip: Do not use a laptop, gaming console or handheld device to mine. These devices just are not effective enough to generate income.
- An ATI graphics processing unit (GPU) or a specialized processing device called a mining ASIC chip. The cost will be anywhere from $90 used to $3000 new for each GPU or ASIC chip. The GPU or ASIC will be the workhorse of providing the accounting services and mining work.
- A house fan to blow cool air across your mining computer. Mining generates substantial heat, and cooling the hardware is critical for your success.
- Personal curiosity. You absolutely need a strong appetite for reading and constant learning, as there are ongoing technology changes and new techniques for optimizing coin mining results. The most successful coin miners spend hours every week studying the best ways to adjust and improve their coin mining performance.