You have probably heard by now that you can mine Bitcoins but maybe you have no idea what that means or how to get started! Well you are probably not alone but rest assured it isn’t THAT complicated and anybody can do it if you follow this simple guide. You don’t even have to understand what is actually happening when you are mining, it just takes a bit of initial configuration to get started.
Why mine Bitcoins?
The benefit of mining for Bitcoins rather than purchasing them is that you are effectively generating money with your hardware and depending on your electricity costs this will probably work out cheaper than actually purchasing them. However it now takes some powerful hardware to make it worthwhile as the difficulty level has been constantly increasing. This means you will need a powerful graphics card (or multiple cards!) in order to generate a Bitcoin or part of one within a reasonable time frame. It is likely that as time goes by even powerful GPUs will not be able to mine effectively due to the rise of specialised ASIC devices which are able to mine at far higher speeds and use less power in the process.
Getting started with GPU mining
First of all you will want to visit this site to check how well your graphics card can perform. It is measured Mhash/s which is how many millions of hashes per second your card can do, the higher the value the better. If your card is Nvidia or rather old then it is unlikely mining with it will be worthwhile, chances are you will end up spending more on electricity than you will gain. You may wish to purchase a new card, from the hardware comparison page you will be able to see what performance you can expect before you make a purchase. The cards of choice right now seem to be the 7950s and 7970s however if you can find a second hand 5850 for example it may be worthwhile.
Calculating potential earnings from your hardware
After finding your GPU(s) on the hardware comparison page you can use a calculator to estimate how many Bitcoins you can earn per day, week or month and their value in USD. This is important in order to assess profitability however bear in mind that as the difficulty increases and/or the price of Bitcoin changes your profitability can rise or fall quickly. You can use the calculator here to estimate this, just enter in the relevant details. The calculator also includes other Cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin which may be more profitable for you to mine.
Setting up your machine to mine Bitcoins
In order to do the mining I recommend using GUIMiner as it is very easy to use and quick to set up. You can download it here. You will also need to join what is called a mining pool, this is where people work together to solve a block and then split the rewards. It is the only practical way to mine now unless you have some serious hardware! I use Coinotron but there are many others to choose from. Once you have joined the pool the next step is to enter the details into GUIMiner. You will need to enter your pool’s server address, port, your username and password. You may also want to add some extra flags in order to improve performance though GUIMiner tends to come with good settings by default. Once ready hit “start mining” and watch the coins roll in (or more likely small parts of coins!).
Any rewards you get from mining will be stored in your account with the mining pool. You can then withdraw them to your own wallet for safe keeping though you will most likely have to reach a minimum withdraw limit before doing so.
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