One aspect of Proof-of-Work (PoW) cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin is that they can be generated via mining. Mining is a process where a computer solves cryptographic hashes to group transactions into blocks and add them to the blockchain. When a block is found, the miner or miners who worked together to find it receive a block reward. Mining secures the cryptocurrency network and the rewards are distributed to miners to give them an incentive to keep maintaining the network.
With powerful enough processors, some people can make a living from mining, although most individuals today usually do it for side income or as a hobby. Bitcoin has an extremely high mining difficulty and requires equipment that costs thousands of dollars to mine profitably, and even then you would only get fractions of a Bitcoin unless you have an entire farm of powerful equipment.
However, with cheaper cryptocurrencies with lower difficulties, it is possible to mine on your personal computer with a CPU or GPU and get a stream of coins flowing in every day. While the coins might not be worth much, for some, it is a fun way to earn cryptocurrency without having to do anything but leave their computer on. In the long run, these coins can add up. And if crypto appreciates over the long term, or if the market rallies like it has in the past, these mined coins could gain significant value.
One problem with mining is that it is somewhat difficult for inexperienced users. It requires fairly in-depth computer and programming knowledge to successfully mine using specialized software such as cgminer. This is where desktop mining apps like Honeyminer and MinerGate come in, which are easy ways to mine cryptocurrency without any experience. These can be installed and used to start mining with a few clicks. These programs show you which parts of your computer are mining, how fast they are mining, your earnings so far, and projected earnings. All of this information is contained in a streamlined GUI.
The ease of use comes with several downsides. These sort of miners take a cut from user earnings so miners are earning less than they should be. Also, mining can damage a personal computer via overheating, although these mining programs show a temperature gauge which makes monitoring easy. Additionally, mining on a personal computer can use so much processing power that the entire computer slows down. Finally, mining with a personal computer usually uses more electricity than the money it produces.
Regardless, mining on a personal computer can be worth it despite these downsides due to the fun aspect of learning and the possibility of future cryptocurrency price increases. Apps like Honeyminer and Minergate might be the fastest way to start mining; someone who decides to start mining can have it running within a minute even with zero experience.
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