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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.
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. Got to www.bitcoin.org and download the Bitcoin client for your Operating System. Install it the client will begin to download the blockchain. Downloading the blockchain can take a long time and will be over 6GB of data. If you have data caps, I would recommend ordering a copy of the blockchain on DVD to keep from going over as it is growing exponentially. Once the client is up to date, click “New” to get your wallet address. It will be a long sequence of letters and numbers. One of most important things you can do is 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 by clicking the link on the top of the page. 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.
Now that you have a wallet and the client, you are probably roaring to go, but if you actually want to make Bitcoin (money), you probably need to join a pool. A pool is a group 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 50 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.
The pool that I’m involved in is called Slush’s Pool so I will be giving instructions on how to join there but feel free to look at other options. 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.
If you are mining with an ASIC, please go to our Mining with ASICs page. The following will only pertain to GPU miners.
Most of the mining programs out there are pretty complicated to setup and will frustrate your average user. Recently a great program has come out to get the most basic of users started. The program is called GUIMiner. Click the link and download the program (Be careful, some of the ads are set up to look like the file download). Install and run the program and add in your information from Slush’s Pool. Remember that the user name is actually the worker name. The worker name will be your user name, dot, worker ID (username.worker ID) and the password from that worker ID.
Mac users should look into using Astroid
Now that you are set up, you can start mining. If you feel like you want to make more Bitcoins, you might want to invest in mining hardware.
To see how much your current hardware will earn mining Bitcoins, head over to the Bitcoin Profitability Calculator.