I’m a techy guy: in my old life I worked in the video game industry and I know my way around a computer. However, like most people, I knew nothing of cryptocurrency mining and have always thought of cryptocurrencies as a bit of a gimmick – albeit a very profitable one. Despite knowing very little about how cryptocurrencies work, I decided to become a 21st century digital miner for one reason and one reason alone: passive income.
It began with the thought of my laptop sitting there unused all day while I’m outside attending to the familiar flow of chores and not-so-emergencies that constitute farm life. Then, I thought about all the electricity that we generate from our solar panels that we don’t use and can’t store.
What if I could turn my abandoned laptop into a money-making machine?
Well, it’s not really a get-rich-quick kind of thing, but here’s the gist of it: you can let your computer run unattended day and night mining cryptocurrency, and get paid for it! We’re talking in the regions of 1-2 euro per day if you cash in your currency, but the fun part of this is – who knows what they’ll be worth in the future?
If you’re interested in giving it a try please read on. I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible but you will need a certain level of computer literacy if you want to mine cryptocurrency.
What’s cryptocurrency? How do you mine it?
Cryptocurrencies are virtual currencies that are stored on a blockchain, which is protected by cryptography, keeps track of the transactions, and ensures these digital coins are not double-spent or counterfeit. Cryptocurrencies are based on the idea of decentralisation, which means there isn’t one bank or person in charge; instead, the currency’s “ledger” is maintained by a network of people.
In simple terms, this encrypted ledger of transactions needs to be checked by “someone”, through complicated computer maths, and that’s where mining comes in.
Let’s use the familiar Bitcoin (BTC) as an example. Every time someone buys or sells a Bitcoin, an encrypted line is added to this virtual ledger. In order for cryptocurrency to work, all of these transactions need to be verified somehow. Through dedicating some computer power, we can connect to the Bitcoin ledger, do some work, and when we’ve done a certain amount, the system pays some Bitcoin to us as a reward for our effort.
There’s hundreds of cryptocurrencies out there that can be mined (some can’t). Some will be worth enough money to generate a steady income – some may be an investment (a coin that may be fast to mine now and worth little, but shows promise for the future).
However, don’t let all these fancy words scare you off. It’s really not that hard to mine for cryptocurrency if you’re a little computer savvy. There’s two main ways to do it depending on your computer/laptop –
- through your machine’s CPU (processing power)
- through its GPU (graphics processor).
Generally, unless you’ve got a gaming rig or a computer you use for professional video editing, you’ll want to focus on CPU mining.
Why is this relevant to off-gridders?
Well, there’s several aspects of cryptocurrency mining that can be interesting for off-gridders. Firstly, it’s not always easy to have an income when you live in a remote or rural place, and this is a pretty effortless way to bring in some extra cash or get into some fun investing.
Secondly, unlike city dwellers who pay for their electricity by the kW, if you’re running solar then the cost of running your laptop or computer on full power 24/7 is nil. The main disadvantage of cryptocurrency mining is the cost of electricity on-grid. City people thinking about mining have to keep in mind the cost of powering the computers vs the potentially small profits of mining, so in the city if you want to make this truly profitable you have to be careful of your power consumption. I can keep my laptop plugged in all the time, and my electricity bill is just as invisible as it was before.
Thirdly, you will need an internet connection, but hardly any data is used. It’s mostly your computer that’s doing a lot of thinking, but it’s not downloading any large files.
Last but not least, there’s the idea of supporting people in their efforts to create secure, private currencies and moving away from the old centralised banking system.
How do you do it?
The first step is choosing which currency you will be mining. If you have no idea where to start there’s several websites that will help you make this choice; one of them is whattomine.com, but my favourite is cryptunit.com.
These calculators take your “hashrate” as the main input, which is essentially a measure of how fast your PC can get through a particular algorithm, and give you an estimate daily earning for several cryptocurrencies – these values (like in USD) are generally estimated based on the conversion value of the day. When you mine, you get paid in the currency you are mining, not US dollars.
Since you don’t know your hashrate yet, we’re going to get an estimate from Monero Benchmarks. I use this website because it has a vast selection of CPUs, but as you can see it is made for mining Monero (XMR) which uses an algorithm called RandomX. This is just to give us an idea though, so simply search for your CPU model and take note of the value under “H/s”.
For example, for my Intel i7-4500U GPU (which is in an old laptop), I see the hashrate is about 744 H/s.
Now I can take that number to CryptUnit.com.
Making sure to select the right options (CPU, RandomX, your CPU’s H/s number) we are now offered a selection of coins and relative values in USD.
Here it’s up to you to do some research on which coin you would like to invest your time in.
For the purpose of this article we’re going to pick the top of the list, Wownero (WOW). Click here to find out more about the coin and how to create a wallet for it.
Next, you will need to join a “pool” of other miners and share the rewards of processing a block. It is possible to mine “solo”, but not recommended due to the high difficulty of getting rewards. To find these pools, use MiningPoolStats, which gives you a list to choose from.
Things you want to keep in mind when choosing a pool are its location (the closer to you geographically, the better), the cut the pool keeps (its fee, usually 0.9%-1%), and the payment threshold – this is how much currency you have to mine before it is paid out to your wallet. It’s also usually best practice not to pick one of the first 3 pools in order to keep the mining decentralised. There is no inherent advantage or disadvantage to picking a large or small pool.
Once you’ve chosen your pool, there will be instructions on its website on which software to download (probably XMRig or some version of it).
Once your mining software is up and running, you can forget about it and wait for the rewards to reach your digital wallet!
The only thing to watch out for – it’s quite an addictive hobby. Before you know it you’ll have a digital coin collection and you’ll be checking graphs and stats every day!
Help and Advice
Let us help you get started! Join us for a video chat consultation. We offer troubleshooting and technical advice on setting you up with cryptocurrency mining and optimizing your laptop or computer.
The most difficult part is definitely the set up process, but once that is done, it’s mostly sitting back and waiting for the rewards to come rolling in. Although we cannot give you financial advice and we don’t have a crystal ball that can predict which currencies will increase in value, we can help you set up your small cryptocurrency mining operation. We can also assist you with optimizing your laptop so that your mining can be more profitable.
If you would like to book a consultation contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and yes – we accept payment in cryptocurrency! 20 euros per 30mins.