Now that you have Bitcoin mining hardware, your next step is to join a Bitcoin mining pool.
What is a Mining Pool?
Mining pools are groups of cooperating miners who agree to share block rewards in proportion to their contributed mining hash power.
While mining pools are desirable to the average miner as they smooth out rewards and make them more predictable, they unfortunately concentrate power to the mining pool’s owner.
Miners can, however, choose to redirect their hashing power to a different mining pool at anytime.
Pool Concentration in China
Before we get into the best mining pools to join, it’s important to note that most mining pools are in China. Many only have Chinese websites and support. Mining centralization in China is one of Bitcoin’s biggest issues at the moment.
There are about 20 major mining pools. Broken down by the percent of hash power controlled by a pool, and the location of that pool’s company, we estimate that Chinese pools control ~81% of the network hash rate:
The list below details the biggest Bitcoin mining pools. This is based on info from Blockchain’s pool share chart:
We strongly recommend new miners to join Slush Pool despite it not being one of the biggest pools. It was the first Bitcoin mining pool and remains one of the most reliable and trusted pools, especially for beginners.
Antpool is a mining pool based in China and owned by BitMain. Antpool mines about 25% of all blocks.
BTC.top is a private pool and cannot be joined.
BTC.com is a public mining pool that can be joined. However, we strongly recommend joining Slush Pool instead.
Bixin is another mining pool that is based in China. It is a public pool, but unless you speak Chinese we do not recommend joining this pool.
BTCC is a pool and also China’s third largest Bitcoin exchange. Its mining pool currently mines about 7% of all blocks.
DiscusFish, also known as F2Pool, is based in China. F2Pool has mined about 5-6% of all blocks over the past six months.
ViaBTC is a somewhat new mining pool that has been around for about one year. It’s targeted towards Chinese miners.
8. BW Pool
BW, established in 2014, is another mining company based in China. It currently mines about 5% of all blocks.
Bitclub Network is a large mining pool but appears to be somewhat shady. We recommend staying away from this pool.
Slush was the first mining pool and currently mines about 3% of all blocks.
Slush is probably one of the best and most popular mining pools despite not being one of the largest.
Bitcoin Mining Pool Comparison
|Slush Pool||Czech Republic||2%||No|
The comparison chart above is just a quick reference. The location of a pool does not matter all that much. Most of the pools have servers in every country so even if the mining pool is based in China, you could connect to a server in the US, for example.
Get a Bitcoin Wallet and Mining Software
Before you join a mining pool you will also need Bitcoin mining software and a Bitcoin wallet.
Mining Pools vs Cloud Mining
Many people read about mining pools and think it is just a group that pays out free bitcoins. This is not true! Mining pools are for people who have mining hardware to split profits.
Many people get mining pools confused with cloud mining. Cloud mining is where you pay a service provider to miner for you and you get the rewards.
If you just want bitcoins, mining is NOT the best way to obtain coins.
Buying bitcoins is the EASIEST and FASTEST way to purchase bitcoins.
Get $10 worth of free bitcoins when you buy $100 or more at Coinbase.
Which Countries Mine the most Bitcoins?
Bitcoin mining tends to gravitate towards countries with cheap electricity.
As Bitcoin mining is somewhat centralized, 10-15 mining companies have claimed the vast majority of network hash power.
With many of these companies in the same country, only a number of countries mine and export a significant amount of bitcoins.
China mines the most bitcoins and therefore ends up “exporting” the most bitcoins.
Electricity in China is very cheap and has allowed Chinese Bitcoin miners to gain a very large percentage of Bitcoin’s hash power.
It’s rumored that some Chinese power companies point their excess energy towards Bitcoin mining facilities so that no energy goes to waste.
China is home to many of the top Bitcoin mining companies:
F2Pool, AntPool, BTCC, and BW.
It’s estimated that these mining pools own somewhere around 60% of Bitcoins hash power, meaning they mine about 60% of all new bitcoins.
Georgia is home to BitFury, one of the largest producers of Bitcoin mining hardware and chips. BitFury currently mines about 15% of all bitcoins.
Sweden is home to KnCMiner, a Bitcoin mining company based in Stockholm. KnCMiner currently mines about 7.5% of all bitcoins.
The US is home to 21 Inc., a Bitcoin mining company based in California.
21 runs a large amount of miners, but also sells low powered bitcoin miners as part of their 21 Bitcoin computer.
Most of the hash power from the 21 Bitcoin computers is pointed towards 21’s mining pool. 21 Inc. mines about 3% of all bitcoins.
The countries above mine about 80% of all bitcoins.
The rest of the hash power is spread across the rest of the world, often pointed at smaller mining pools like Slush (Czech Republic) and Eligius (US).
A Note on Pools
While we can see which mining pools are the largest, it’s important to understand that the hash power pointed towards a mining pool isn’t necessarily owned by the mining pool itself.
There are a few cases, like with BitFury and KnCMiner, where the company itself runs the mining operation but doesn’t run a mining pool.
Bitcoin miners can switch mining pools easily by routing their hash power to a different pool, so the market share of pools is constantly changing.
To make the list of top 10 miners, we looked at blocks found over the past 6 months using data from BlockTrail.
The size of mining pools is constantly changing. We will do our best to keep this posted up-to-date.
If you cloud mine then you don’t need to select a pool; the cloud mining company does this automatically.
Why are Miners Important?
Bitcoin miners are crucial to Bitcoin and its security. Without miners, Bitcoin would be vulnerable and easy to attack.
Most Bitcoin users don’t mine.
However, miners are responsible for the creation of all new bitcoins and a fascinating part of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Mining, once done on the average home computer, is now mostly done in large, specialized warehouses with massive amounts of mining hardware.
These warehouses usually direct their hashing power towards mining pools.
Despite recent controversy, Antpool remains the largest Bitcoin mining pool in terms of its Bitcoin network hash rate. Antpool holds roughly 15% of the total hash rate of all Bitcoin mining pools.
Antpool mined its first block in March 2014, meaning that it emerged roughly four years after the first mining pool; Slushpool.
Antpool is run by Bitmain Technologies Ltd., the world’s largest Bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer, and a large portion of their pool is run on Bitmain’s own mining rigs.
Antpool supports p2pool and stratum mining modes with nodes that are spread all over the world to ensure stability (US, Germany, China etc.).
Also, Antpool’s user interface is surprisingly slick considering that the underlying company thrives mostly off of hardware sales.
How to Join Antpool
The pool is free to join and the process is simple.
First, you need to acquire Bitcoin mining hardware. Then you need to download mining software. If you need help deciding, I suggest you take a look at our hardware and software guides.
Hardware is important because it determines the size of your contribution to the pool’s hash rate. Software is important because it enables you to direct your hardware’s hash power towards the pool you prefer. So make sure to make the right choice in order to optimize your rewards.
Finally, sign up at antpool.com to get started.
What are Antpool’s Fees?
Antpool claims that it does not charge any fees for using its pool. Although there is some truth to this claim, it is not 100% correct.
While Antpool does not directly charge fees, it also does not disclose the Bitcoin transaction fees that are collected. Basically, clients are left in the dark. Currently, every Bitcoin block has a 12.5 BTC reward which Antpool does share with you when it finds a block.
Lately, however, Bitcoin transaction fees have been rising and an additional 1-2 bitcoins are collected per block by pools. At this time, Antpool keeps 1-2 bitcoins form transaction fees for itself, which are not shared with miners who have hash power pointed toward the pool.
It can be argued that these rates prevent the service from being usable for small-time and big-volume users. Consequently, some users on bitcointalk.org heed that the undisclosed fees make the service unwise to use for the time being.
What is the Payout Threshold?
The pool does not appear to have a payout threshold and pays out every day around 10 AM UTC.
The minimum withdrawal amount is 0.0005 BTC (other sources say 0.001 BTC).
Can you do Solo Mining on Antpool?
Solo mining means you mine for bitcoins without joining a pool. So if you use Antpool you are not solo mining by default.
Generally, you will receive more frequent payouts by joining a pool.
What is the Controversy around Antpool?
Antpool has refused to enable arguably beneficial upgrades to Bitcoin for reasons based on claims that have been largely disproved. Notably, this has taken place with somewhat of a vindictive attitude.
More specifically, the controversy revolves around Segwit – a feature that requires miner activation to be enabled. Despite the fact that most Bitcoin users want this feature activated, Antpool, among other pools, appears to be blocking this feature.
Antpool began signalling for Bitcoin Unlimited in early March 2017 for reasons that have not been elucidated by Bitmain CEO (and cofounder Jihan Wu).
Antpool claims that it will only signal for Segwit if there is a hardfork, which is a proposition that most users oppose. Furthermore, allegations that the owner refuses to sell hardware to Segwit supporters have also begun to circulate.
By using Antpool, you allow the pool to decide your hardware’s approach to these matters, meaning that the pool that you used dictates the type of Bitcoin protocol that your hardware employs. If you wish to decide which implementation your hardware should signal for, you can use a pool that leaves the choice to its users, like the Slush mining pool.
According to BlockTrail, Bitfury is the third largest Bitcoin mining pool and mines about 11% of all blocks.
The main difference between the Bitfury pool and other mining pools is that Bitfury is a private pool.
Bitfury, the company, makes its own mining hardware and runs its own pool. So, unlike Slush or Antpool, Bitfury cannot be joined if you run mining hardware at home.
Bitfury 16nm ASIC Chip
Unrelated to its pool, Bitfury sells a 16nm ASIC mining chip.
Although Bitfury controls a large portion of the Bitcoin network hash rate, its committed to making Bitcoin decentralized :
BitFury is fundamentally committed to being a responsible player in the Bitcoin community and we want to work with all integrated partners and resellers to make our unique technology widely available ensuring that the network remains decentralized and we move into the exhash era together.
Valery Vavilov, CEO of BitFury
BTCC Mining Pool Review
BTCC Mining Pool is run by BTCC, a Bitcoin company based in China. The company also runs a Bitcoin exchange, wallet, prints physical bitcoins and more!
BTCC runs servers all over the world so your mining hardware can connect easily to the BTCC pool.
So even though BTCC is based in China, don’t be worried that you can’t use or join the pool:
Our mining pool currently has customers from the United States, South America, Europe, China, and Africa.
Bobby Lee, BTCC CEO
One great thing about BTCC pool is that it shares Bitcoin transaction fees with its miners.
In every Bitcoin block, around 1-2 BTC worth of transaction fees are also rewarded to the pool.
Some pools keep these fees for themselves and DO NOT share with their miners! BTCC evenly splits the transaction fees among its miners, just like it splits the 12.5 BTC reward.
Slush Pool Review
Slush Pool is run by Satoshi Labs and was the world’s first ever Bitcoin mining pool. It’s advanced yet also a great pool for beginners.
How to Join and Use Slush Pool
Slush Pool is easy to join.
Slush Mining Pool URLs
According to Slush’s website, there are the current URLs for the mining pool. You will want to point your software towards the URL location closest to you. This will maximize your mining profits.
USA, east coast:
What are Slush Pool’s Fees?
Slush Pool charges 2% of all payouts.
This may seem like a lot but unlike other pools it shares the transaction fees with its miners. At current levels, these amount to 1-2 BTC more per block.
Satoshi Labs runs Slush Pool. They also make the Bitcoin TREZOR hardware wallet and Coinmap.org.Это интересно:
Hashflare Best Mining Pools Settings SHA-256! – Coin Sites
- Immediate payouts if hashpower is purchased from bitcoin
- Unlimited contract length
- Partner program
- Maintenance fees for litecoin and bitcoin
- In case of wire transfers they charge a commission fee
- Short FAQ section
Hashflare turns cryptocurrency mining accessible to everyone. There is no need to buy expensive and complex mining equipment, Hashflare wants to make mining accessible for all users around the globe no matter of age or background. The clients only need to select a desired hashpower and start generating revenue right away with the Hashflare cloud mining service. Earnings with cloud mining becomes more predictable with Hashflare than it used to be during traditional bitcoin hardware mining. The hashrates starts from as little as 10GH/s, so new clients does not need to invest a lot of funds to join the cloud mining business.
The Estonian Hashflare is has been founded in 2014 in Tallinn and providing cloud mining services since the beginning of 2015. The technology behind is powered by the HashCoin team that is dealing with blockchain solutions and hardware since 2013. They have been producing ten thousands ASIC miner devices for mining bitcoin, litecoin and other digital currencies. Hashflare partnering with HashCoins ensures continuously developing new mining hardware that is up to date with the newest blockchain technology. The innovations are financed from the companys own share capital, but they also have special investors who provide additional funding to the startup.
The founders of the company are two Estonian digital entrepreneur. Ivan Turygin has a Business Administration degree and has several years experience in cryptocurrencies. Beside running Hashflare and HashCoins he is also the founder and CEO of Burfa Capital, an Estonia based consultation agency. The other founder of Hashflare is Sergei Potapenko also has a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from the Tallinna Technical College. Beside Hashflare he is owning a company with a much different profile: Siberian Timber, that is importing redwood pine for the UK market.
The Hashflare miners are located in a hi-tech, modern facility, where the room temperature and moisture is constantly monitored according to industry standards. This ensures maximum hashpower capacity without the danger of overheat.
Hashflare on Social Media
bitcoin, litecoin, ethereum, zcash, dash
Hashflare, Tartu mnt 43, Tallinn 10128, Estonia
Scrypt, SHA256, Ethash, Equihash and X11 algorithms are all running on the GPU equipment provided by Hashcoin. The contracts are all available from 24 hours contract time up until lifetime accesses, except for Ethereum and Zcash where the length of the contract is maximized in 1 year.
The cloud mining results at Hashflare show up on the client accounts immediately after payment confirmation and the client receives the first payout just 24 hours after the first block mined. Clients can choose the withdrawal methods from bitcoin, credit cards and wire transfers.
The Hashflare mining contracts can be signed from one day up to unlimited time. Clients may use Hashflare services as long as they wish to do, there is no time limit applied. Users allocate their hashpower directly to the mining pool they wish to serve in.
At Hashflare, users can join any mining pool they with to do, so the most profitable combination of cloud mining activity can be reached for any client. Then the mined cryptocurrencies are distributed among the Hashflare customers based on their share they bought at the company (PPS method).
At registration, Hashflare asks for the country of residence and for the date of birth as well beside the usual user name and password. This information is only used in case of security questions asked if they think the account has been compromised.
Hashflare also provides detailed, real-time statistics about the mining activity.
They are running a partner program, where the clients can earn up to 10% commission on each purchase of the recommended new user makes.
Fees and Pricing Schedule
As Hashflare provides cloud mining for 5 different algorithms, the pricing is tailored to each cryptocurrency individually. Users may start cloud mining as little investment as $1.20.
The fees are based on hashpower and also they apply certain maintenance fee also based on the supplied hashpower during a 24 hour window. Maintenance fees are only applicable for Scrypt and SHA256 mining, users mining Ethereum, Zcash or Dash cryptos does not pay any maintenance fee at all. Although on the other hand, these later three currency contracts are only avaliable for 1 year term. Zcash cloud mining has only limited supply at the moment as they only maintain the mining activity until it is profitable for the users.
Cloud mining prices are expressed in the form of minimum hashpower provided:
- Bitcoin with SHA256 algorithm costs $1.20 per 10 GH/s,
- Litecoin with Scrypt algorithm costs $8.20 per 1 MH/s,
- Ethereum with Ethash algorithm costs $2.20 per 100 KH/s,
- Zcash with equihash algorithm costs $2.00 per 0.1H/s,
- Dash with X11 algorithm costs $3.20 per 1MH/s.
Hashflare charges a maintenances fee of $0.01 for 1MH/s litecoin hashpower and $0.004 for 10 GH/s bitcoin hashpower daily, after each 24 hour long mining period. These maintenance fees are not billed to the customers, but deducted directly from the mining results at daily payouts. The fees are deducted in bitcoin based on the daily BTC/USD exchange rate provided by Hashflare.
The cloud mining company accepts wire transfers in USD and EUR, although they charge an extra 10 EUR commission fee on all purchases below 50 EUR. VISA and Mastercard are also accepted payment methods but they apply a 3000 USD limit per daily purchases for these. Due to customer protection, on the accounts where the hashpower is purchased with credit cards, there is a 14 day holding period, when the accumulated mined currencies cannot be withdrawn from the account. The immediate payouts are appearing on those accounts where the hashpowers are purchased from bitcoin.
Hashflare only allows withdrawals beyond the minimum set for bitcoin at 0.0004BTC and for ethereum at 0.0007ETH. At withdrawals they only charge the transfer fee to the blockchain that is 0.0003 BTC and 0.0006 ETH respectively paid to blockchain.
Hashflare.io User Experience
Hashflare.io has a space themed website where it is easy to navigate. The landing page provides all the necessary information for the cloud mining service they offer.
Clients like the user friendly interface and the low initial cost of the cloud mining that Hashflare provides. Although sometime issues arise, according to the user feedback the support team handles all problems quickly and diligently. The Helpdesk is operated through Zendesk platform, so they make sure all issues are taken care of. The FAQ section does not have too many prewritten questions, but includes the most frequent ones and also has a search functionality so users can find solutions quicker.
Hashflare care about security. For DDOS protection they are using CloudFlare services and they also recommend for users to use two factor authentication. The website is available in 11 different languages, beside English, Russian, German and Portuguese, the Greek, Turkish, Japanese, Chinese customers can read the pages on their mother tongue.
Hashflare has a very strong hardware background with the cloudminers supplied by HashCoin. They offer cloud mining for five different cryptocurrencies. The contracts last as long as the mining activity – after the maintenances fees charged – is profitable for both bitcoin and litecoin. Hashflare is a good cloud mining choice for those who want to try crypotcurrency mining but doesn’t want to invest too much money upfront as their minimum plan is starting from $1.20. Due to their fee structure however cloud mining on a big scale at Hashflare can become very expensive.
- immediate payouts if hashpower is purchased from bitcoin
- unlimited contract length
- partner program
- maintenance fees for litecoin and bitcoin
- in case of wire transfers they charge a commission fee
- short FAQ section
Hashflare.io Review – 28 Total Ratings with 4.80/5 possible Rating Points. Service Providerdebian jessie bitcoin-qt.
Best Bitcoin Cloud Mining Pool Profitable Sites
96Pro and Contra
- Immediate payouts if hashpower is purchased from bitcoin
- Unlimited contract length
- Maintenance fees for litecoin and bitcoin
- In case of wire transfers they charge a commission fee
92Pro and Contra
- Mining farms are spread across various locations for security reasons
- Custom mining plans are available
- Maintenance fee on the SHA256 contracts
- X11 and Ethereum contracts doesn’t have a lifetime access, but valid for 2 years oly
82Pro and Contra
- P2P rigs can be rented from miners
- Free pool selection
- High fees
- No fancy design
New York, USA
92Pro and Contra
- 14 different altcoins are available in their mining pool
- Transparent pricing structure
- Withdrawals are available from 0.01 coins, including bitcoins too
- Only bitcoin cloud mining is available
76Pro and Contra
- Interesting side projects Cloud SETI and medical researches
- Immediate payouts
- High maintenance fees
- Basic website
78Pro and Contra
- High paying referral program
- Low fees
- Lack of information on the company
- Clients are unable to select mining pools
72Pro and Contra
- Low cloud mining price and maintenance fee
- Possibility to trade hashpower
- Multiple cloud mining providers belongs to the same company
- Only bitcoin and litecoin is accepted as payment methods
72Pro and Contra
- Bring your own device program
- Credit card payment and wire transfer is available
- Client must ship the mining equipment on own cost
- No co-hosting option
68Pro and Contra
- Option to trade hashpower
- Possibility to mine multiple altcoins in the pool
- Complex product structure is technical, not for newbies
- Only bitcoin payment option is available
54Pro and Contra
- Possibility to trade hashrates
- Possibility to buy mining rigs
- Most of the website requires registration with BitMain passport
- PACMiC contracts and payouts are complex and might be difficult to understand
58Pro and Contra
- Straightforward pricing structure
- No maintenance fee
- Lack of information on services and owners
- No wallet
54Pro and Contra
- Free 50Gh/s hashrate upon signup
- Unlimited lifetime service
- High risk of scam due to unlimited upside potential
- Virtual mining, not bitcoin mining
Chiang Mai, Thailand
46Pro and Contra
- Vault paying interest
- Google Play app
- High fraud risk
- Maintenance fee
SHA stands for Secure Hash Algorithm and the 256 refers to the algorithm output length in bits. A Secure Hash Algorithm’s input data can be anything and provide a unique encrypted string. The most famous application is bitcoin, but there are a lot of other usages of the SHA-2 hash function in security applications and protocols, including SSL.
With the proof of work (POW), the majority of the network must confirm that the generated hash is a valid one. This is done through the mining activity.
The algorithm was first published in 2001 by the National Security Agency, which is a national intelligence agency of the United States. The SHA256 algorithm as part of the Secure Hash Algorithm family is widely documented and supported.
Which coins are using SHA256?
The first and most famous cryptocurrency with applying SHA256 algorithm is bitcoin. Bitcoin’s hard forks, like Bitcoin Cash is using the same algorithms as well. But there are other cryptocurrencies employing SHA256 algorithm.
The second cryptocurrency which started using SHA256 algorithm was Namecoin in 2012, which acts as an alternative decentralized DNS.
Peercoin has been introduced in 2012, which is the first cryptocurrency to use POW and POS functions. In PoS-based cryptocurrencies the creator of the next block is chosen via various combinations of random selection and wealth or age (i.e. the stake). In contrast, the algorithm of proof-of-work (PoW) based cryptocurrencies (such as bitcoin) rewards participants who solve complicated cryptographical puzzles in order to validate transactions and create new blocks.
NXT coin launched in 2014, specifically designed as a flexible platform to build applications and financial services around its protocol.
Which hardware can you use for mining with SHA256 algorithm?
You can build a cryptocurrency mining rig using SHA256 algorithm based on CPUs, GPUs, and ASIC miners.
Due to the nature of the algorithms, Application-Specific Integrated Circuit chips (ASICs), the mining hardware which is created solely to solve the hashing function of this specific algorithms is the most cost-efficient way to run your mining equipment. These dedicated mining hardware equipment is specially designed to make the cryptocurrency mining profitable with the most efficient energy usage and computational chips. Because of this, the price of the ASIC miners are relatively high due to both the research and development part and also because of the increasing demand for these hardware. Nevertheless, the shops selling ASIC miners ofter run out of stock even just based on pre-orders as most people try to get their hands on new equipment until the difficulty increases to that level that the profitability is impacted. ASIC miner is powerful hardware which consume a lot of electricity when running the mining equipment.
You can run the SHA256 algorithm with mining rigs based on your own PC and laptop. However CPUs and GPUs, due to the high difficulty rate it would take ages until you would find the first block running these machines.
- widely documented and supported
- it is possible to use CPU, GPU, and ASIC
- it is only profitable to mine with ASICs
- less energy efficient compared to other algorithms