Targeting headlines around the world for the high values it achieves, Bitcoin draws attention not only for that. Based on a decentralized system and protected by cryptography (blockchain), currency is considered by many as the future of the financial world, which would dispense with regulations and the intervention of bodies such as central banks.
Despite being linked to major financial transactions — and catching the attention of billionaires like Elon Musk, Tesla’s boss —, cryptocurrency also stands out for its accessibility. Anyone with a reserve of cash can invest in this market, or venture into value mining for their account.
For this, it is necessary to be aware of the prerequisites and challenges that mining on its own can bring. In addition to requiring powerful equipment to bring satisfactory results, the process will impact your electricity bill and the durability of the machine used. In other words, you have to do the math well to decide if this is something that is financially worthwhile.
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What is Bitcoin mining?
What we call mining is nothing less than solving complex mathematical problems in the middle of a race with other people trying the same. Whoever gets to the solution first wins the right to 6.25 units of Bitcoin — R$ 1.4 million at the current rate — with a total of 144 new coins being created each day.
Even if you are not the winner of this race (an increasingly difficult process), your efforts will still pay off. As Bitcoin is decentralized, this means that transaction data is present on each of the machines that operate the system, which checks all transactions that take place to avoid fraud — a process that requires a great deal of computing power and rewards intermediaries with installments of cryptocurrencies.
The use of the term mining is due to similarities with the process of extracting rare materials from the environment, such as gold and diamonds. Bitcoin was designed to work with a limited amount of coins — 21 million, of which 18.6 million have already been mined — something that isn’t likely to materialize until 2140.
What equipment do I need to mine?
Even if you have a high-end computer, with a powerful CPU and the latest lineup of graphics cards from AMD or Nvidia, using it to mine Bitcoins will hardly bring good results. This is because one of the essential elements to be profitable in this market is having access to cheap energy — something that is not a reality for Brazil today.
So, the ideal is to have a device known as ASIC Miner, which brings hardware features aimed at mining cryptocurrencies. In addition to being more efficient than generic parts, devices of this type also consume a smaller amount of electrical energy, making the results more profitable.
Pay attention to the fact that these are expensive machines, with the most affordable models being around R$ 10 thousand in Brazil. The international versions are also salty, costing between US$ 10 thousand and US$ 15 thousand (R$ 50 thousand to R$ 75 thousand) and even the most efficient ones will take a few months of mining to pay for themselves and generate profits.
As mining individually is an expensive process, those who intend to invest in this market can also resort to so-called mining pools to increase their earnings. In practice, they are workgroups that unite the power of different machines and increase the chances of getting a block of the cryptocurrency — any profit is divided proportionally with each machine’s contribution to the process.
After investing in the necessary equipment, you will need to set up a virtual wallet to store your earnings and transact. They also let you manage your Bitcoin addresses via a public key that serves as your identity (think bank branch account numbers) in the world of cryptocurrency.
While public keys can be known to anyone — and Bitcoin’s open feature means everyone can see the transactions you’ve made — wallets also provide a private key that must be kept with great security. It works like your wallet password, and only with it you will be able to move the amounts you accumulated.
There are several options for Bitcoin wallets (and other cryptocurrencies), some being entirely based on the online environment and others using hardware to provide an additional layer of security for the user. Sites like Bitcoin.org have systems that suggest the most viable option depending on your level of experience with the market and what security features and amenities you consider essential.
Now that you have the hardware on hand and a wallet to store your earnings, it’s time to choose mining software. In addition to ensuring your machine’s connectivity to the blockchain network, many programs also bring statistics about your average work yields and statistics about your machine, such as current temperature and used processing power.
Check out some examples of available programs:
- CGMiner: one of the oldest mining software, it was written in C and is compatible with most hardware. The program is based on a single command line and features cooling fan control, performance monitoring and remote interface usage capabilities;
- BFGMiner: Known for its customization, it is also written in C and has compatibility with FPGA/ASIC hardware, bringing complete monitoring options. The interface may be a little understated, but it’s known for its focus on efficiency and allowing you to fine-tune every step of the process (provided you know what you’re doing);
- EasyMiner: a good option for those starting out in the mining world, Easyminer is an opensource program that bets on a graphical and intuitive interface as its differential. With support for mining miner, cudaminer, ccminer, cgminer and ASIC for Bitcoin, it lets you customize whether you want to work individually or within a pool. Its main disadvantage compared to other options is that it works exclusively with Windows;
- Awesome Miner: option for those who have more than one machine dedicated to Bitcoin mining, it supports over 50 engines, including names like Ccminer, Bminer, XMRIG AMD Miner, SRBMiner and SgMiner. Compatible with Windows and Linux, it also has an online interface that allows access by smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices.
Is it worth mining at home?
Now that you know what I need to mine Bitcoins on my own, it’s time to do some math before putting your plan into action. Even if you have the resources to invest in the necessary equipment, it is not worth putting them into operation if it will only result in losses.
To help you make that decision, sites like NiceHash have calculators into which you enter details of the hardware used and the amount charged for electricity usage in your region. At the end, it gives a forecast of what profit you might make at the end of a week or a month — leaving out possible reinvestments that need to be made in worn-out appliances.
Even if everything looks positive, you have to take into account that, in the current state of Bitcoin, the currency is not exactly profitable for individual miners. Cryptocurrency mining has become a huge business to which companies dedicate veritable farms of devices that alone can surpass 400 hashrate points (the speed at which your machine can process data) — in the best case, a home PC achieves a score maximum of 90.
Thus, other alternatives may prove more interesting for those who want to invest in this market: instead of mining yourself, for example, you can invest in the stock exchange in companies specialized in carrying out this process. It’s also worth looking at other cryptocurrencies instead of Bitcoin: despite having lower ratings, names like Ether, ZCash, Monero and even the Bitcoin meme currency allow you to use more modest hardware in your mines and can represent a more attractive investment for your mine. profile.
Source: The Balance, Bitcoin.org, Sardine Investor, NiceHash
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