Beginner’s Guide to Mining Bitcoins

Last updated on December 18th, 2017 at 06:06 pm

One of the biggest problems I ran into when I was looking to start mining Bitcoin for investment and profit was most of the sites were written for the advanced user. I am not a professional coder, I have no experience with Ubuntu, Linux and minimal experience with Mac. So, this is for the individual or group that wants to get started the easy way.

1. Get a Bitcoin mining rig

Bitcoin mining is a very competitive niche to get into. As more and more miners come on board with the latest mining hardware the difficulty to mine increases each day. Before even starting out with Bitcoin mining you need to do your due diligence. This means you need to find out if Bitcoin mining is even profitable for you.

The best way to do this is through the use of a Bitcoin mining calculator. Just enter the data of the Bitcoin miner you are planning on buying and see how long it will take you to break even or make a profit. However, I can tell you from the get go that if you don’t have a few hundred dollars to spare you probably won’t be able to mine any Bitcoins.

Once you’ve finished with your calculations it’s time to get your miner. Make sure to go over our different Bitcoin mining hardware reviews to understand which miner is best for you. Today, the Antminer S9 is the newest and most powerful miner.

  • Select miner

  • Released
  • How much electricity does your miner consume?Power consumption
  • Power efficiency
  • How "fast" can your miner mine BitcoinsHash rate
  • Dimensions
  • Weight
  • This does not include hardware cost, electricity cost, or changes in BTC rate and mining difficultyRevenue in vacum*
  • Price
  • Our rating of the miner taking into account all specifications aboveOverall rating
  • Antminer R4

  • Antminer R4
  • August 2016
  • 845W±9%
  • 0.1 J/GH +9%
  • 8.6TH/s±5%
  • 20 x 3.9 x 8.7 inches
  • unknown
  • Based on BTC rate and mining difficulty on August 28th 20160.29 BTC/month
  • Estiamted $1000
  • 88%
  • Read review
  • AntMiner S9

  • antminer s9
  • June 2016
  • 1375W ±7%
  • 0.098 J/GH
  • 12.93 TH/s
  • 13.7 x 5.3 x 6.2 inches
  • 10 lbs
  • Based on BTC rate and mining difficulty on July 1st 20160.5 BTC/month
  • ~$2000
  • 95%
  • Read review
  • Avalon 7

  • Avalon 7
  • November 2016
  • 850W-1000W
  • 0.29 J/GH
  • 6 TH/s
  • 13.4 x 5.3x 5.9
  • 9.5 lbs
  • 0.14 BTC/month
  • $880
  • 81%
  • Read review
  • AntMiner S7

  • Antminer s7
  • August 2015
  • 1293W
  • 0.25 J/GH
  • 4.73 TH/s
  • 11.8 x 6.1 x 4.8 inches
  • 7.5 lbs
  • Based on BTC rate and mining difficulty on July 1st 20160.15 BTC/month
  • $599
  • 83%
  • Read review
  • AntMiner S5

  • antminer s5
  • December 2014
  • 590W
  • 0.51 J/GH
  • 1.155 TH/s
  • 11.7 x 5.3 x 6.1 inches
  • 6.6 lbs
  • Based on BTC rate and mining difficulty on July 1st 20160.05 BTC/month
  • $199
  • 79%
  • Read review
  • Avalon 6

  • Avalon 6
  • August 2015
  • 1100W
  • 0.29 J/GH
  • 3.5 TH/s
  • 13.9 x 5.1 x 5.9 inches
  • 9.5 lbs
  • Based on BTC rate and mining difficulty on July 1st 20160.12 BTC/month
  • $700
  • 76%
  • Read review
  • Antrouter R1

  • Avalon 6
  • September 2015
  • This miner barely takes up any powerNegligible
  • Negligible
  • 5.5 GH/s
  • 3.3 x 2.2 x 1.1 inches
  • 0.2 lbs
  • This miner is a solo miner. It has a small chance of mining a block but does not generate monthly revenue.Probably nothing
  • $39
  • 70%
  • Read review

As a side note it’s important to state that in the past it was possible to mine Bitcoins with your computer or with a graphics card (also known as GPU mining). Today however, the mining niche has become so competitive that you’ll need to use ASIC miners – special computers built strictly for mining Bitcoins.

2. Get a Bitcoin wallet

First thing you need to do is get a “Bitcoin Wallet“. Because Bitcoin is an internet based currency, you need a place to keep your Bitcoins. Once you have a wallet make sure to get your wallet address. It will be a long sequence of letters and numbers. Each wallet has a different way to get the public Bitcoin address but most wallets are pretty straight forward about it. Notice that you’ll need your PUBLIC bitcoin address and not your PRIVATE KEY (which is like a password for your wallet).

If you’re using a self hosted wallet (i.e. you downloaded a program to your computer and are not using an internet based service) there’s one additional very important step. Make sure you have a copy of the wallet.dat file on a thumb drive and print a copy out and keep it in a safe location. You can view a tutorial on how to create a secure wallet here. The reason is that if you computer crashes and you do not have a copy of your wallet.dat file, you will lose all of your Bitcoins. They won’t go to someone else, they will disappear forever. It is like burning cash.

3. Find a mining pool

Now that you have a wallet you are probably roaring to go, but if you actually want to make Bitcoin (money), you probably need to join a mining pool. A mining pool is a group of Bitcoin miners that combines their computing power to make more Bitcoins. The reason you shouldn’t go it alone is that Bitcoins are awarded in blocks, usually 12.5 at a time, and unless you get extremely lucky, you will not be getting any of those coins.

In a pool, you are given smaller and easier algorithms to solve and all of your combined work will make you more likely to solve the bigger algorithm and earn Bitcoins that are spread out throughout the pool based on your contribution. Basically, you will make a more consistent amount of Bitcoins and will be more likely to receive a good return on your investment.

When choosing which mining pool to join you will need to ask several questions:

  • What is the reward method? – Proportional/Pay Per Share/Score Based/PPLNS
  • What fee they charge for mining and withdrawal of funds?
  • How frequently they find a block (means how frequently I get rewarded)?
  • How easy it is to withdraw funds?
  • What kind of stats they provide?
  • How stable is the pool?

To answer most of these questions you can use this excellent post from BitcoinTalk. You can also find a complete comparison of mining pools inside the Bitcoin wiki. For the purpose of demonstration I will use Slush’s Pool when mining for Bitcoins. Once you are signed up with a pool you will get a username and password for that specific pool which we will use later on.

Follow the link to go to their site and click the “Sign up here” link at the top of their site and follow their step by step instructions. After you have your account set up, you will need to add a “Worker”. Basically, for every miner that you have running, you will need to have a worker ID so the pool can keep track of your contributions.

4. Get a mining program for your computer

Now that you’ve got the basics covered we’re almost ready to mine. You will need a mining client to run on your computer to that you will be able to control and monitor your mining rig. Depending on what mining rig you got you will need to find the right software. Many mining pools have their own software but some don’t. You can find a list of Bitcoin mining software here.

I’m using a mac so I will use a program called MacMiner. The most popular program I’ve found for a PC are BFGMiner and 50Miner  . If you want to compare different mining software you can do this here.

5.  Start mining

OK, so hopefully now everything is ready to go. Connect you miner to a power outlet and fire it up. Make sure to connect it also to your computer (usually via USB) and open up your mining software. The first thing you’ll need to do is to enter your mining pool, username and password.

setting up bitcoin mining pool

Once this is configured you’ll basically start mining for Bitcoins. You will actually start collections shares which represent your part of the work in finding the next block. According to the pool you’ve chosen you will be paid for your share of coins – just make sure that you enter your address in the required fields when signing up to the pool. Here’s a full video of me mining in action:

Conclusion – perhaps it’s better just to buy the coins?

To conclude this article here’s something to consider. Perhaps it would be more profitable for you to just buy Bitcoins with the money you plan to spend on Bitcoin mining. Many times just buying the coins will yield a higher ROI (return on investment) than mining. If you want to dig into this a bit deeper here’s a post about exactly that.

Happy mining!!

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551 Comments on "Beginner’s Guide to Mining Bitcoins"

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Audiner
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Audiner

I bought PC for gaming but now I’m thinking for extra income, I would like to know if I can use my PC to earn Bcoins, and how can I do that? any suggestion? specs intel g4400 3.3 ghz, 8gb ram, 1050ti 4gb gpu, 500watts tru rated PSU

Once I have enough money I would like to buy mining rig, newbie here

Steven Hay
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Steven Hay
Hey Audiner, No, you won’t be able to mine bitcoins on a PC. You need special hardware for Bitcoin mining, called an ASIC. See here for more details: Is Bitcoin Mining Worth It? Of course, you can use the PC to do work for people who will pay you in BTC. Here is an article on earning BTC for doing work online: How to Get Bitcoins – A Guide to Earning Bitcoins Fast and Free in 2018 Finally, you can use your PC to mine altcoins. I’m not sure you’ll make quick money but, if you have cheap enough electricity,… Read more »
Emma
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Emma

where can I buy the antminer?

Steven Hay
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Steven Hay

Hey Emma,

The best option is to buy it directly from the manufacturer, when they have a new batch available. Right now the S9 is not available:

https://shop.bitmain.com/antminer_s9_asic_bitcoin_miner.htm

Eric
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Eric

So what is the best way to handle US income tax if you are a miner? Report it as tips/wages, setup a LLC or treat yourself as self employed?

JMR
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JMR

Any action taken specifically for the purpose of gaining income outside of employment makes you an independent contractor in the eyes of the IRS. You can setup an LLC if you want but it is not necessary if you comply with your states regulations for IC work. Just save 20% and file a Schedule C and you’re fine. Hope it helps.

Steven Hay
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Member
Steven Hay

Hi Eric,

That’s a tough one for me to answer. I’ve only mined as a hobby and I don’t live in the US. I’d say that you should see an accountant who understands Bitcoin if you’re committed to paying your taxes.

howard
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howard

Trading on Cryptocurrency is the most secured online trading in the world approved by federal governments..is a life changing chance platform in investment online with rest assure of making huge profits…I will also advice any trader to study enough and do some good research before investing or trading,I made $74k with a good smiling shock on my face in two weeks on my first trade…This a real life story investment and making money with ease..

Matt
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Matt

Hello, I still dont understand why a rig that has say 10 – 1070 or 1080 gpu is not effective enough to mine bitcoin. What is in the antminer that makes it better at mining?

James
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James

Antminers are specifically designed – and made – for mining bitcoin, they run an algorithm that is very different from those that are run on gpu mining rigs, and they [Antminers] are more profitable at gernerating a return on investment (ROI) … but their downside is that they are a lot noiser to run and consumer a lot more electric.

Steven Hay
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Steven Hay

Hi Matt,

Well, the chips in an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit – the application being mining) miner are designed only for the purpose of mining a specific algorithm…

Whereas a GPU is designed to perform multiple applications – processing graphics obviously, but they’re also capable of applications like mining, physics processing and machine learning.

A general purpose machine will be less efficient at a task than a machine specifically built for only that purpose.

Buck
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Buck

The 1070 and 1080 are decent gpu miners but not as powerful as asics miners.

Amanda
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Amanda

Thank you!! This is put together perfectly for a beginner.

peter
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peter

what is the real benefit to your client for finding a block for him?

Steven Hay
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Steven Hay
Hi Peter, OK, if you’re a miner and find a block, then everyone who has used or is using the Bitcoin network to send transactions will benefit. People whose transactions are currently pending will benefit the most if you include their transactions in your block, thereby confirming them. People whose transactions have already been confirmed will benefit by having your new block laid atop the block in which their transaction was mined, further confirming it. Finally, people who are still waiting for the transaction to be included in a block will benefit, as there will be fewer pending transactions competing… Read more »
Onur
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Onur

Hey!
Is it profitable to mine with a phone?

Steven Hay
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Steven Hay

Hi Onur,

No, phones are too low-powered to be useful for mining. You will just run down the battery without making hardly any money.

Clifton Bradeley
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Clifton Bradeley

Hi Steven and Zsofia,
Great advice BTW. I have a Macbook pro I use. I take it to different places. Would I need a new Mac and leave it in one place to mine? I heard you say you have a Mac. What exact set-up do you have? Has mining been successful for you?

Steven Hay
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Steven Hay
Hey Clifton, Maybe Zsofia has a Mac but I don’t. I have mined in the past, mostly Peercoin and Vertcoin with an old AMD GPU. I’d say that it’s been quite successful, given that Vertcoin’s price has been spiking lately. I probably made back my power costs 100x – 1000x over by now. One thing mining requires is a steady internet connection. I’d guess that by taking your laptop around, you’d lose of mining time when it was out of range of internet connections. Also, you can’t expect much of a return – if any – using a laptop to… Read more »
Bill
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Bill

I’ve been reading and learning about mining and have a basic knowledge, but a few questions. I was hoping to run a mining operation in an out building at my house, by wifi network to my home computer. My understanding is that I can use an ASCIC machine without a computer. Will the heat put out by the machine be adequate since I have no heat in the building ? Are there other issues I haven’t thought of ?

Steven Hay
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Member
Steven Hay
Hi Bill, I’m not sure which ASIC you intend to run but my understanding is that generally these devices plug into a router which connects them to the internet. They need a constant stream of data from the blockchain and to the pool. I’m sure you could get a WiFi router to connect the ASIC through the internet connection in your house. You’ll need a computer on the network to set the miner up on your chosen pool and for monitoring. You’ll probably need it again for troubleshooting and changing things in future. The ASIC will put out a lot… Read more »