Mining Monero: everything you need to know

One of the longest-standing cryptocurrencies is Monero (XMR), known for its strong privacy features. If you are worried about keeping your cryptocurrency transactions private you should put Monero at the top of your list.

It’s also good to know that Monero is easy to mine, and that you can relatively quickly make a profit when you mine Monero. To find out how just read our thorough guide which will outline how you get started mining Monero, and what you need to do to maximise your Monero mining profits.

Towards the end of this article we’ll discuss an important aspect of mining Monero – how to mine Monero using a cloud mining solution.

Why mining Monero is a good idea

Of course, everyone who mines a cryptocurrency is doing it because they want to make a profit – very few people mine cryptocurrencies for any other reason. Choosing the right cryptocurrency to mine is important, and for a lot of miners privacy is a key aspect of the ideal cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin is not known as the most privacy-focused of coins, but Monero is different – Monero has a range of privacy features built-in ensuring more private transactions. For example, if someone sends you Monero coins you will not be able to check what the source of the coin transfer is.

This is also true if you send coins – nobody would know that it was you who sent the coins, the recipient will only know if you say so. Also, if you don’t know the address of a person there is no way to find out how wealthy they really are. It’s a great feature of Monero.

The best methods for mining Monero

Like many other cryptocurrencies, mining Monero involves finding the solution for complex cryptography puzzles – using your CPU (central processing unit) or one or more GPUs (graphical processing units). Many coins can no longer be mined using a CPU, but Monero can still be mined with a CPU so you can use your regular desktop PC for mining activity.

Of course, for maximum mining takings, we suggest you choose a GPU instead because you will be able to mine faster that way. In particular we suggest using a GPU from AMD, but we’ll give you more details on the best GPUs to use later in this article.

Monero is similar to other cryptocurrencies in that mining Monero via a mining pool is the best way because it means you get paid on a regular basis, rather than needing to wait until an entire block is solved. In short, a mining pool basically adds up all the solving (hashing) power of hundreds or thousands of miners so that blocks are found faster – and rewards are earned faster.

By illustration, just imagine trying to mine Monero on your own: in effect you are running against a pool of miners that have a hash power that is thousands of times faster than yours – which means the pool can solve blocks thousands of times faster too. In essence you are relying on luck to be able to successfully solve for a full block.

So, the best way is to mine Monero in a pool, using GPU cards with AMD chips.

Everything you need to start mining Monero

It’s all about hardware really, and to get good results you should really set up a custom mining rig with dedicated GPUs, and not rely on a desktop PC or your laptop. Why? PCs and laptops won’t be able to mine as fast as a dedicated rig, which means you earn less through the mining process.

The other essential item you need for mining Monero is a wallet: you can use a Monero wallet that you download from the official Monero website if you want to.

In summary there are four things you should get in place before you start to mine:

  • Your hardware, including a GPU rig which uses Nvidia or preferable AMD cards.
  • A Monero wallet, it’s combination of private and public keys ensures your XMR coins are safe, and lets you keep track of transactions and mining earnings.
  • Internet that you can rely on, and enough data allowance to send 15GB per day. Your connection must be 24/7.
  • Enough power on the grid, though few mining rigs will overload a household power grid it is still worth checking exactly how many watts your mining rig will be consuming

Other things you need to think about before mining XMR

Keep in mind that a mining rig can cause other issues too. Watch out for high electricity bills to start off with, and also keep in mind a mining rig will make noise and generate heat. This is the case for GPU-based XMR mining rigs too.

Another thing you should be careful about is the latency of your internet connection, because if you and another miner both find a block at the same time it will be the miner that responds faster that gets the reward. So, if your internet connection latency is high you run the risk of missing out on block rewards and it could mean that you’ve spent hours mining for no reason. In addition to low latency you also need at least 500MB of data capacity per device, every day.

Setting up for XMR mining

In this section we will explain how you should set up your Monero mining rig.

  1. Download the Monero mining software

    You need a file called xmr-stack, which is available from a Github release page. You can choose from two different versions, one is from a user called psychocrypt, the other from a user called fireice-uk. However, you should always download the latest version.

  2. Installing your mining software

    It’s easy really, all you need to do is to first download the .zip file saving it somewhere you’ll remember. You can extract the zip file where it suits you, but keep in mind that your AV package might block it as a threat. It is normal, and you can bypass this threat from your virus software. Ensure you add an exclusion for the mining software, so your AV package doesn’t keep bothering you.

  3. Find xmr-stak.exe

    When you’ve extracted all the files you need to look for one specific file, which sits alongside a total of four other files. The file you want is xmr-stak.exe.

  4. Sign up to a mining pool

    Like we explained earlier, mining in a pool is easier and you can get paid more regularly. However, you need to join a pool first which will give you the benefit of a regular payout. Note that mining pools charge a small fee for their service. It’s worth doing your own research to find the best mining pools with the lowest fees.

  5. Configure the mining software

    You need to configure xmr-stak.exe, but it’s simple really – just run xmr-stak.exe which is the configuration wizard. It’ll ask you some questions, ensure you complete these carefully. One of these is a password section, and you will also be asked for an identifier of the rig you plan on using.

    Furthermore, you need to enter the port you want to utilise – TLS or SSL and make sure you tap “n” for “no” when presented with Nicehash, you don’t want to use Nicehash. Also decline the use of multiple pools with a “no”.

    When you’re done the mining software will automatically try to connect to the pool you are using and you can start to mine XMR. Note that, during setup, xmr-stak.exe will create three more files for configuration. This includes pools.txt, nvidia.txt and cpu.txt.

  6. Starting up the Monero miner

    You can make a shortcut to the miner so it starts up automatically. Just drag and drop a shortcut to xmr-stak.exe. This will auto-start the miner as Windows boots. It is easy to get to the startup folder in Windows 10, tap Start and then Run and type in shell:startup.

Considering mining Monero using a cloud mining pool

Want to start mining straight away without buying anything in the way of physical equipment, paying an energy bill or worrying about keeping your rig cool and ventilated? Cloud mining might be the best option for you.

In terms of advantages cloud mining means that you do not need to pay electricity costs and you don’t need to order hardware (which might take a while to arrive anyway). There’s also no need to deal with high levels of heat and fan noise isn’t an issue.

On the flipside, cloud mining does have disadvantages, including the fact that you will earn less (the cloud mining vendor needs to cover its costs) alongside the risk of getting scammed or defrauded by a cloud mining vendor. Also note that nothing prevents a cloud mining pool from stopping payouts, or completely stopping all operations, if profits drip below an acceptable level: it could be written into your mining pool contract. Finally, you’ll never own the mining equipment.

Some of these disadvantages can be mitigated if you make the right choice of cloud mining vendor. So, you need to choose a provider alongside the mining algorithm as well as the amount of hashing power that you require. Watch out for the provider’s reputation, how long your contract is for, the algorithm in use and of course the total hashing power.

There are a couple of reputable mining vendors out there, one is IQMining.

Calculating Monero returns

We have a simple calculator for Monero which can help you figure out how much you can make mining Monero. You can include a range of factors including hash rate, the power consumed as well as any fees charged by the mining pool.

Just tap calculate to work out what you’ll earn on a yearly or even a daily basis. Just keep in mind that there are manyvariables when it comes to mining, so our calculators is just a suggestion – your profitability will change quickly if, for example, the value of XMR changes quickly.

Common questions around mining Monero

How long does mining 1 unit of XMR take?

Mining using a CPU like the AMD FX8320 will take one year, this is based on a hash rate of 330 hashes per second.

Does the raspberry pi support mining XMR

Yes, you can mine XMR with a raspberry pi but keep in mind that the pi is not powerful enough to quickly solve blocks, so it is simply not profitable to try and use a pi for mining XMR.

Should I bother trying to mine XMR?

It is worth thinking about your expectations around mining XMR, and how much money you can invest in capital equipment. However, you can use a calculator to work out what you can earn and then think about whether it’s worth it for you.

What are the legal questions around mining Monero?

There is nothing that prevents you from mining Monero, it is legal, but keep in mind that you may have tax to pay on your mining earnings, depending on where you live.

Is it possible to mine without paying anything?

You can mine without joining a pool, but you will struggle to complete blocks. Mining in a pool is the better option, but there will always be a cost – nothing is for free.

Can I use a mobile phone to mine XMR?

Technically it is possible to use something like an iPhone to mine XMR, but we don’t recommend it  - you won’t make much progress when mining and you are also at risk of overheating your phone.

How safe is it to mine XMR?

There are no major safety issues when mining XMR but you do need to keep note of the details.

Which is the best country to be located in if I want to mine XMR?

We can offer two suggestions: Iceland is very cold which is helpful for reducing cooling bills. Another country worth considering is Georgia because it has a good tax climate and the blockchain market is well established in Georgia.

Why is mining XMR a good idea?

Well, many people can mine Monero profitably, and by mining you could be sure of an ongoing stream of income, paid every day.

Can I create a Monero mining pool of my own?

It’s possible yes, you need to understand how to create a Monero mining pool. The file you need to read is which is located here.

A brief introduction to Monero

XMR, or Monero, is an open-source cryptocurrency which is mainly focused on providing additional privacy, over and above the typical decentralisation goals of cryptocurrencies. Though the creators of Monero had good intentions some issues have surfaced: for example, hackers have targeted XMR because they wanted to try and crack the privacy abilities of Monero.

In a unique twist to Monero, every XMR coin can be replaced by another XMR coin which means that Monero has a real advantage compared to other cryptocurrencies such as BTC.

Over time Monero’s developers have made a range of improvements to XMR, including changing the database structure which supports the XMR blockchain – it’s made the blockchain more flexible and more efficient.

Another step in Monero’s development was establishing a minimum size for ring signatures which meant that every Monero transaction is private – by mandate. RingCT, another improvement, means that the actual transaction amount is also hidden. It’s all in the interest to make Monero more secure and more private.

Monero is still making efforts to try and ensure that it’s initial goals of ensuring transaction privacy and transaction confidentiality remains at the centre of the coin, while blockchain efficiency and overall ease of use takes a back seat.

The team behind XMR

Monero is completely open source, nobody owns the code – and no organisation has central control over XMR. No company owns or controls Monero either. The developers who are interested in Monero tend to give their contributions for free. These contributions or suggestions can be funded via a system where the community can support specific ideas that need funds to proceed – it’s called FFS.

Understanding the Monero hashing algorithm

CryptoNight is the hashing algorithm which enables users to mine Monero. There are numerous features of CryptoNight that are worth thinking about. Most importantly the speed between the processor and the memory modules in use is important with this hashing algorithm because it is highly memory bound.

As a result, GPU mining power has less of an advantage over CPU mining power in the case of CryptoNight, compared to other mining algorithms. This was seen as an advantage. ASIC miners pose a different threat altogether, and that is why Monero has moved XRM to the latest version of CryptoNight – version 7.0.

What is an XMR fork?

Monero goes through an upgrade every six months to upgrade its protocol. Each hard fork introduces new features to Monero – for example, the ability to conduct transactions which are bigger and more resource intensive while still remaining private. Other examples include the support for Ledger Nano S as well as the ability to make transfers that are multi-signature.

Interestingly, in the battle against ASICs, Monero’s last fork made a change to the CryptoNight algorithm which meant that every existing ASIC rig was made useless from that day onwards. Chinese company Bitmain’s Antiminer X3 was so powerful that Monero felt it needed to act.

The person who create Monero, Riccardo Spagni, said that the change in the way the cryptocurrency functions was intended to ensure that it will be more resistant to attempts to mine it via ASICs. It is the extensions used by Monero which boosts the effectiveness of CPU mining for Monero, so there is a planned unfair advantage for CPUs. Spagni will be less against ASICs if there was an extension that could be implemented widely to ensure that ASIC mining hardware is also relatively democratic, rather than distorting mining abilities.

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