The Importance Of Bitcoin Mining
Bitcoin mining is a complex process that can be difficult to understand and execute. Even frequent users of Bitcoin are not fully aware of exactly how the mining process works. Mining is a competitive and challenging activity. Many computer enthusiasts around the world enjoy it. Although there are many nuances to the process, here is a simple breakdown of exactly how Bitcoin mining works.
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Mining And The Blockchain
Each Bitcoin transaction is stored as a unique piece of data. To keep the Bitcoin system running effectively, these transactions need to be recorded. Groups of transactions from a set period of time are stored in blocks. The general Bitcoin ledger is called the ‘blockchain’. The job of miners around the world is to secure all of the data on the blockchain.
This process is done by turning each transaction into a coded sequence, which is called a hash. Hashes are much shorter than the original address of the transaction. They are created by running that original address through a mathematical formula.
Each hash in a block is directly determined by the previous hash on that block. This links all the transactions together. This is very important for security reasons. Changing just one character in a Bitcoin address will result in a completely different hash. Since all the Bitcoin transactions are linked together, if a transaction is altered, everyone will know. This is because the hashes for the entire blockchain will change. Every working miner will immediately be able to spot the faulty transaction.
Miners use computer software to create these hashes and seal off blocks in the blockchain. Creating a hash can be done in seconds, thanks to this type of software.
However, there are a limited number of Bitcoins that will ever be in existence. The system has certain requirements to keep the mining process competitive. Each hash must begin with a specific combination of zeroes. Miners must continue to generate hashes using separate, unrelated pieces of data until they find a hash that works. These pieces of data are called nonces. This process can be time consuming, as just creating one hash can take several tries.
Miners are rewarded with 25 Bitcoins for every hash that they create. This motivates miners around the world to keep working on such a complex and difficult process. Miners in hundreds of countries around the world work in constant competition with each other to develop new hashes. To keep the process proportionally difficult to the amount of miners that are currently
working, the Bitcoin network will self-adjust the difficult factor of the hashes. This also keeps the rate of block solving consistent over time.
The technology used to mine Bitcoins has evolved tremendously over the past several years. Initially, there were very few miners, working with low-quality equipment. Their earnings and the speed with which the Bitcoin was solved was extremely consistent. However, increased competition soon made it difficult for anyone to solve a block on their own. Miners started to work together to solve blocks, and split the earnings among themselves. The reward available for solving a hash is also going to go lower as the system progresses. Eventually, miners will be paid in transaction fees associated with each block.
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